Jean Kirk Kuczka: Tribute to the Slain St. Louis Teacher

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Jean Kirk Kuczka was named as the health teacher who was shot to death by an active shooter at Central VPA High School in St. Louis, Missouri.

The 61-year-old teacher’s bio reads:

I cannot imagine myself in any other career but teaching. In high school, I taught swimming lessons at the YMCA. From that point on, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I believe that every child is a unique human being and deserves a chance to learn. I also believe that Health is the most awesome subject in school, because, without your health, you cannot live to your fullest potential. I love teaching Health and Physical Education and guiding students to make wise decisions. Respect is my favorite word!

Michael Sack, St. Louis police chief, said in a press conference on Monday, October 24, 2022, that officers “arrived within minutes of the call going out” and immediately made entry into the school.

Kuczka and an unidentified female juvenile lost their lives. Six other people were injured.

Student witnesses told local journalists terrifying stories of hiding in classrooms, jumping out of windows, and hearing gunshots in the school. The shooter has not been identified, and the motive remains unclear.

Two other students are among the wounded; one person suffered cardiac arrest, according to KSDK-TV.

The chief confirmed that eight people were wounded, and two people were dead. The suspect is also dead. Some people were shot, and some struck with shrapnel.

Here’s what you need to know:

Kuczka Was the Married Mother of Five Children & Had Seven Grandchildren

The teacher’s faculty bio says;

After earning her bachelor of science in education, she began teaching physical education at Seven Holy Founders in Affton, MO. For the next 16 years, Jean developed a physical education program for the K-8 SHF students. Wanting to teach strictly middle school children, Jean began her SLPS career at Carr Lane in 2002. At first, she taught physical education, but wanted to pass on her passion for health, so she developed a health program for the middle school.

After health became a state-required course for high school, Jean transferred to Central Visual and Performing Arts High School where she has taught Health, Personal Finance, and Physical Education since 2008.

According to the bio, she lived in Dittmer, Missouri, with her husband and one of her five children. “She enjoys spending time with her 7 grandchildren and is an avid bike rider,” the bio says. “Each year she participates in JDRF’s Ride to Cure to raise money to find a cure for juvenile diabetes, a disease her 29 year old son has been living with for 19 years.”

On Facebook, Kuczka’s posts focused on her family, pets, bike riding, and Diabetes causes.

Kuczka Was Remembered for Her ‘Grace’ & Kindness

Tributes flowed for Kuczka.

Xiao Moli wrote:

I am SO sick and tired of hearing about these babies being sent to school and not coming home. I am saddened and disappointed that in this day and age we have to talk about teachers who have to both educate and become first responders.

Jean Kirk Kuczka was a teacher that supported me well into my adulthood. Her grace and her kindness extended well beyond the four walls of class and she will be missed. I am sorry to the parents who have to deal with the traumas their children have now been inflicted with. I am also sorry to the parents who lost their children and those injured. I am not the kind of person to grieve the loudest as if I’m the only person whose life has been touched, but it is a painful reality to myself and those who had the pleasure of being educated by her. It’s a loss to everybody those children included.

“My mom loved kids,” her daughter Abbey said to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “She loved her students. I know her students looked at her like she was their mom because a lot of them didn’t have a good home life.”

Abbey said her mom was teaching cross country at another school.

“This was her first year of empty-nesting, and she was looking for something extra to do,” Abbey Kuczka said. “She was definitely looking forward to retirement though. She was close.”

Kuczka, a Star Athlete in High School, Helped Southwest Missouri State University Win a National Championship

Kuczka was first named as a shooting victim by Fox3Now.

According to the television station, she was a “standout athlete” in field hockey at Lindbergh High School, where she graduated in 1979.

She then attended Southwest Missouri State University on a field hockey scholarship and helped the team win a National Championship.

She was honored in 2010 by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, according to Fox3Now.

‘You Are All Going to (Expletive) Die,’ The Gunman Said, According to a Teacher

Math teacher David Williams told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the school principal used a “code phrase” over the loudspeaker around 9 a.m. that “indicates a school shooter in the building.”

Williams then heard gunfire outside his classroom, and a window on a classroom door was “shot out,” the newspaper reported.

“You are all going to (expletive) die,” a man’s voice said, he told the Post-Dispatch.

According to Sack, students who were fleeing the school shooting told arriving police officers that the shooter was armed with a long gun.

Officers heard gunfire and ran to it. They located the shooter and engaged the shooter with exchange of gunfire, Sack said. The suspect was struck and was later pronounced deceased. No officers were injured.

Eight people from the school were transported to local hospitals. An adult female shot to death. A teenage female at the scene was pronounced deceased from gunshots, according to Sack.

“Our department responded to an active shooting incident this morning at Central VP School. A suspect was taken into custody,” St. Louis police tweeted on October 24, 2022 before the shooter was pronounced dead. “WE ARE ASKING THE PUBLIC TO PLEASE AVOID THE AREA OF S. KINGSHIGHWAY FROM SOUTHWEST TO ARSENAL UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. THIS INVESTIGATION IS ONGOING.”

Raymond J. Parks, a dance teacher at the school, the shooter was dressed all in black and pointed the gun at him but did not fire. He doesn’t know why, according to The Post-Dispatch.

The shooter banged on a classroom door but couldn’t get inside, a student witness told the Post Dispatch.

It might have been even worse, but the shooter’s gun jammed, student Taniya Gholston, 16, told The Post-Dispatch.

He said he was “sick of this damn school.”

The school was locked. The suspect was 20 years old, according to KSDK News.

A recording captured gunshots going off inside the school, according to Fox 2 Now.

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