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'She was a mother to everyone': Arkansas educator remembered for her big heart

Dana Barnett was only 49 years old when she lost her life due to complications from from COVID-19 on Feb. 3.

CLARENDON, Ark. — THV11 continues to share the faces of COVID -- telling the stories of those we've lost to the virus beyond the numbers that hit us every day. 

Now, we share the story of Dana Barnett, an Arkansas educator. 

A woman, described by her own daughter, Jayna Barnett, as "a mother to everyone."

"It's kind of hard to put into words, but one thing that I have realized is that she impacted the lives of so many people," she said.

Whether it was students, co-workers, or someone she just met at the grocery store -- Jayna said her mom had a special kindness in her heart.

It's a trait that led her to the Clarendon School District, where Dana called home for the last five years.

"She started out being a substitute teacher there. She liked their school district so much and just felt like she needed to touch the lives of a lot of the kids there, so she decided to take a position within the school," she said.

Even though her nametag read "paraprofessional," Jayna said her actions went above and beyond.

"She worked every single football game and basketball game, whether it was working the concession stands or she was just attending to watch her kids play," she said.

That deep support for her students never wavered, no matter the time of day, according to Jayna.

"There were several times that she's had to take kids home after school because maybe they didn't have a ride home or they wanted to go to a game that night or that weekend. She would go pick them up whenever she's on her way there," she said.

But that big heart of Dana's left the world too soon, after she lost her life from complications due to COVID-19 on Feb. 3.

"It was really hard not being able to see her and being able to touch her," Jayna said.

The 49-year-old had tested negative for COVID four times before being hospitalized in late January, where an antibody test showed the virus in her body.

Soon after, Jayna said she was diagnosed with double pneumonia.

"They did eventually let us end up going to see her when they knew she was getting in very critical condition, so I'm very thankful for that," she said.

The 24-year-old, who is now wishing she could hear one more piece of advice from her best friend, has some wisdom of her own to share.

"People should realize that this virus is not a just a hoax, that it's real, and to cherish your time with your loved ones," Jayna said.

Just to show how much of an impact Dana had on her students, Jayna said right in their backyard is a bird bath a couple of kids made her years ago. 

If you would to support the family, there is a GoFundMe set up for them.

There will also be a benefit dinner in honor of Dana on March 5 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at American Legion across from Park Ave. Elementary. 

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