Remembering Dr. Katherine Koonce

| Alumni

2023-BLOG-Headshot-Katherine-Koonce-v01It is with broken hearts we say a sorrowful farewell to our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Katherine Koonce (Ed.D. 2015), who passed away this week during the tragic shooting at The Covenant School, where she served as head of school. Katherine was a precious Christian woman, wife, mother, educator and dear friend.

The moment I met Katherine, I knew immediately I was in the presence of someone truly special. Yes, she was absolutely brilliant. Yes, she was driven to be the best she could be. But more importantly, and simply put, Katherine loved Jesus.  She was dedicated to her Lord and to His service and saw her role as a leader and educator as a calling, not a job.  She knew He was calling her to follow Him to make a difference in the lives of children and their families, and what a difference she made! I am a far better person for having known Katherine Koonce. 

I will never forget when Katherine shared with me that she felt God was leading her to The Covenant School. She sincerely felt this was His plan for her life.  Little did we know at the time that God’s plan included using this beautiful, courageous woman to race into the face of danger to save the very children He was calling her to serve. She lived her calling to the fullest and showed the world the love it takes to lay one’s life down for others.

I am honored to share the following treasured memories from fellow classmates in her class of 2015 Ed.D. cohort.

The journey of working through the Trevecca doctorate program included multiple life challenges, and each of us in the cohort faced those barriers our own way. I remember Katherine as one of the most determined, wanting to finish the race and do it excellently.  She continually showed a willingness to learn, engage and support the cohort members. This determination exemplifies what instructional leadership requires and why Katherine has my utmost respect. Unfortunate and horrible circumstances tested Katherine's grit and courage when her staff and students needed her the most. In the face of adversity, as Katherine demonstrated in class, she showed the world what it is "to be rather than to seem." My deepest condolences to her family and the school she served, as she was an education leader, especially when it mattered the most. 
Dr. Woody Burton

The cohort model for Trevecca's doctorate program creates lasting bonds between students. We spent three years together doing coursework, and in that time, we grew together as a family. Katherine Koonce was a valued member of our Cohort 15 family. She took her coursework seriously, and she was clearly focused on leading a God-centered life as an educational leader who took personal responsibility for her students' learning and well-being. I am not surprised that Katherine was moving toward danger when she was tragically shot at her school. She would have never thought twice about doing whatever was necessary for her students, staff and school. Katherine will be missed, and my prayer is that some ray of hope will spring from this horrific tragedy. It is time for us to have a real conversation about keeping children safe in one of the places where they should feel safest. 
Dr. Joshua Mason

As a classmate at Trevecca, Katherine was a kind and thoughtful team member. She had a passion for learning all she could to support children in her care. She wanted to develop Christian minds in the context of the private school setting where educators are free to talk about their faith. Her heart for Christ and her students showed in the way she spoke about them. Her tragic loss will be felt for many years. 
Dr. Christine Tennyson

When I saw the photo, my heart quickly sank with sadness when I realized it was indeed my Trevecca colleague, Dr. Katherine Koonce.  We completed our doctorate degrees together.  She was always passionate about students, considerate of others and smart.  She also had a funny bone and shared her loving personality with those around her. May you rest in peace, my dear colleague. Your foot stamp on this earthly side will continue to be seen and felt, and will impact many to come. 
Dr. Bernice Russell

Kathrine and I befriended while in Cohort 15 of the Ed.D. program.  The members of Cohort 15 are more than friends, we are family. Over the course of three years, I had the pleasure of participating with her in many group activities throughout the coursework.  Her work ethic and motivation skills were stellar.  If you were in a group project with Katherine, the work was held to her high expectations. She was the person who always made you want to be better. Katherine was the epitome of a servant leader who deeply loved the Lord, her family and the children under her care.  
Dr. Tavia McLeod