Katherine Koonce, the head of The Covenant School in Nashville who died in the mass shooting there on March 27, 2023, was remembered as a “beautiful soul.”
Koonce, 60, was among six shooting victims killed on March 27, 2023, including three elementary students and two other staff members, according to Nashville police.
The other victims were identified by police on Twitter as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all 9, along with 61-year-old Cynthia Peak and 61-year-old Mike Hill.
Nashville police named the suspect as Audrey Hale, 28, a former student at the school. Hale was shot and killed by police at the scene, authorities said.
Here’s what you need to know about Nashville mass shooting victim Katherine Koonce:
1. Dr. Katherine Koonce ‘Taught Me So Much,’ a Man Wrote in a Tribute
Dean Russ Crowe paid tribute to Koonce on Facebook.
“This beautiful soul, Katherine Koonce, taught me so much-two things I think about very often,” he wrote. “She was the headmaster of the school in Nashville and one of the adults that was murdered. Today is such a tragedy. I know her entrance into heaven was abundant. But here we on earth we are devastated. Please pray for her husband and family. And for all the families who thought today was just another Monday and counting down to Spring Break. It’s just horrible.”
2. Katherine Koonce Wrote on Facebook That She Was the Former Academic Dean at Christ Presbyterian Academy
On Facebook, Koonce wrote that she was “Head of School at The Covenant School” and “Former Academic Dean at Christ Presbyterian Academy.” The school is also located in Nashville and serves students from ages preschool to 12th grade.
Koonce “studied Leadership and Professional Studies at Trevecca Nazarene University, studied “Masters Education at Georgia State University,” and studied at LSU and Vanderbilt University, according to her Facebook page.
Koonce was from Brentwood, Tennessee, and lived in Brentwood, Tennessee, her Facebook page says.
3. Katherine Koonce Recently Celebrated Her Daughter’s Engagement
Koonce’s top public post on Facebook was about her daughter’s engagement.
“My recently engaged daughter, Anna Koonce, and I capped off our summer with a wonderful mother-daughter trip to Skyterra Wellness Retreat in North Carolina,” she wrote in July 2022.
“it was an amazing week of outdoor activity, pickleball, hiking, exercise, healthy gourmet meals, spa treatments, and wonderful time together. I hope this becomes an annual event!”
She also filled her page with pictures showing her on vacations with her family.
4. Katherine Koonce Wrote That Covenant School Participated in the ‘Miracle’ of Students’ Development
The school’s website quotes Katherine Koonce, as saying, “At the Covenant School, we are about more than simply educating our students — we are participating in the miracle of their development and seeing them transform into who they will be.”
Koonce’s statement continued: “Impactful teaching methods and programs, daily all-school chapel, and school-wide service-learning are the backdrop for the real work — helping children become who God intends them to be.”
Koonce wrote, “As we capture our children’s attention and their minds for learning, we also want to capture their hearts in relationships that challenge their thinking and help them learn critical skills. Our graduates attend the finest schools in the Nashville area, where they not only excel academically, but also act with character that comes from authentic faith in Jesus.”
The school’s motto is, “Shepherding Hearts, Empowering Minds, Celebrating Childhood,” according to its website.
5. Koonce Was a Competitive Pickleball Player
In May 2022, The Covenant School featured a video on Facebook of Koonce teaching 4th grade students about pickleball. The school wrote, “Do you know that Dr. Koonce is a competitive pickleball player? She gave our 4th graders a run for their money today in P.E. Our 4th graders loved playing with our Head of School! She knows every single one of them personally! #covenantknights.”
In 2021, Prolite Sports posted on Facebook about sending pickelball paddles to Koonce for her students. The company wrote, “PROLITE loves being involved in growing the game, 1 community at a time!! We consider it ‘Icing on the Cake’ when we get a chance to help kids become involved!! Melissa Powell sent us a little note and picture of how we are making a difference in her home state of Tennessee. Melissa notes ‘This is Katherine Koonce. She comes to my clinics, plays with a Rebel. She is head of The Covenant School in Nashville. She is ecstatic that PROLITE sent her some paddles for her students. Way to go PROLITE!”'”
In May 2020, while the school was closed because of the pandemic, The Covenant School shared “a short message from Dr. Koonce about love.” Koonce said in the video, featuring her dog. “Hi guys, hi TCS boys and girls and parents. I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you. This is my dog Shadow. One of my dogs. … But I was thinking about you guys when I was watching S not very smart, but that’s OK too. And the thing I wanted to tell you guys, is just like Shadow isn’t always what I want in a dog, he’s my dog. And I will always love him and I will always protect him and care for him and there’s just not anything that Shadow can do to make me not love him anymore.”
Koonce added, “And he’s a dog. And so I wanted to remind you guys as we are going into summer and we’re finishing up the school year, that there is nothing that you can do that will make God not love you. There’s nothing that you can do that would make God love you more or less because he loves you because he is love, not because you are good. … I wanted to be sure you remembered that. God loves us because we are his children. And while I want you to do your best and while I want you to obey your parents and I want you to do the things you know you should do, it doesn’t make you more loved in God’s mind and in God’s heart.”