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Kentwood Teacher Remembered: ‘I Pretty Much Owe Ms. Brush My Life’

KENTWOOD, Mich. – The East Kentwood School community is mourning after losing a beloved English teacher over the weekend.

On Sunday, Bonnie Brush, 43, was killed after her vehicle rolled over along US-23 in Washtenaw County.

Within minutes, word of her death traveled back to West Michigan. Several people took to social media expressing their grief.

“Deeply saddened to hear the sudden passing of one of EK’s most beloved teachers, Bonnie Brush,” one person on Twitter wrote. “She really meant a lot to us all.”

Arreile Long, a student at the school, said she took three classes with Brush.

“I won’t be able to go to her classroom next year and just eat my lunch in her classroom and talk to her like I needed to,” Long said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Back in December, Long’s two sisters were the victims of a high-profile double murder-suicide in Grand Rapids.  She said that during her time of grief, she would stop by Brush’s classroom, angry at the world, looking for someone who would listen.

“She helped me realize, OK, I can’t be mad at everybody,” Long said. “As she always said, ‘You can’t let the outside determine the inside.’”

She said Brush would give her advice and that the teacher helped her recover from losing her sisters in such a horrific way.

“She’s been there for more than just me. So many students; countless students,” Long said. “She was so many people’s favorite.”

In one word, Long describes Brush as, “Hilarious.” She said if someone went into the teacher’s classroom in a bad mood, that Bush would sit down next to them and tell jokes.

“I had her two years ago and I still remember our vocabulary words because she made it fun,” Long said. “She made it easy. She was different.”

While on summer vacation, Long spent most of her time Monday planning a candlelight vigil for the woman who she said helped students better their lives.

“She helped so many people. It shouldn’t be an issue for me to take a few moments, a few days out of my summer vacation, to honor her,” Long said.

The vigil will take place on Wednesday by the baseball field at East Kentwood High School at 6:30 p.m.

“You’ll never meet another Ms. Brush. It’s going to be hard for everyone,” Long said. “I pretty much owe Ms. Brush my life.”

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