Amherst teacher dies at 31 after battle with cancer


AMHERST, Va. (WFXR) — The Amherst County School District is in mourning. Elementary school teacher Jessica Murdock died recently after fighting a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

She was 31 years old.

Jessica is remembered as the kind of person who lights up a room.

Six years ago, she had the son of a friend and coworker, Heather Davila, in her first grade class. Davila told WFXR that Jessica was crucial in helping her son Brody with a learning disability.

“At that time, he couldn’t even open a book correctly. I mean, he was pretty severely dyslexic,” said Davila. “Within just a few weeks of entering that class, it was very apparent that he was struggling, and more so than just your basic struggle.”

Jessica acted quickly to get Brody the help and testing he needed, and it made all the difference.

“He received his IEP when we got back from Spring Break of his first grade year, which is super early intervention, and has just made a world of difference,” said Davila. “I mean, he is pretty much a B student now. Reading is not his toughest subject.”

Jessica was also there for Heather as a friend during Brody’s struggle.

“Jessica was just right there with me the whole time. I mean, she literally held my hand in a meeting,” said Davila. “It just all hit me at one time. I just sobbed and cried and they were just right there, patting my shoulder and like, it’s going to be okay.”

Jessica was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia this past summer. Brody and Heather prayed for her.

“As time went on and things did not go as everyone of course had hoped and prayed, it was just devastating. I mean a very, very sad, sad time.”

Heather says Jessica kept her classroom welcoming and her lessons innovative. She was well loved by the students and adults at her school.

Jessica’s husband Justin tells WFXR that it was always Jessica’s dream in life to be a wife, mother, and teacher, and she got to do all three in a short period of time.

Jessica’s sister set up a GoFundMe to help the family with outstanding medical expenses.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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