Peoria elementary school teacher dies from rare pneumonia

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Peoria elementary school teacher and theater performer died Monday from Legionnaire’s Disease, a rare and severe form of pneumonia.

Brianna Wood, 32, was a third-grade teacher at Harrison Community Learning Center and performed at Peoria Players Theatre and Corn Stock Theatre.

Those who knew her said she was energetic, spunky, and passionate about making a difference.

Wood had previously taught at Harrison from 2016 to 2018 and had just returned to Harrison for the 2021 school year.

“I was so excited to have her come back home. She said this is the place she needed to be, to service our low-income students. Harrison was her passion,” said Fabian Daniels, principal of Harrison Community Learning Center.

The school had only been in session for two weeks, but Daniels said her students were already calling Wood their ‘favorite teacher.’ She said Wood’s students are devastated, and it’s been a traumatic experience for them.

“They cannot comprehend she is not coming back. Many of our students already experience trauma in their lives, and hearing that news started bringing up some of their past trauma,” she said.

Daniels said they are grieving as a school family, one day at a time.

“They don’t teach you this in textbooks, how to deal with the loss of a staff member, but she’s more than just a staff member. She was a part of our school family,” she said through tears.

Daniels said the school will be honoring her with a memorial.

“When she first was here, her maiden name was Cross, and now she’s married, and it’s Wood, so we wanted to do a memorial of a wooden cross,” she said.

A celebration of Brianna’s life will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Peoria Heights Congregational Church. The visitation will be the same day at 10:30 a.m.

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