The sound of students humming in mourning echoed through the B Hall at Coleman Junior High on Friday.
They, along with faculty and staff, were also seen hugging tightly in support, signing posters with thoughtful messages and leaving flowers around the campus to memorialize Mandy Carter.
The color white was also worn by several individuals in honor of the first-year Waxahachie ISD teacher, while others left sticky notes around her classroom with thoughtful memos.
One note read, "Mrs. Carter was the best, most wonderful and beautiful and funny/most kind person I ever knew."
Another handwritten note stated, "Dear, Mrs. Carter, I wanted you to know that I will miss you. You were everybody's favorite and a lifesaver."
The solemn display comes three days after Carter was involved in a tragic car wreck at approximately 9:37 p.m. Tuesday. According to a Waxahachie Police press release, Carter's maroon Nissan Frontier and a Freightliner semi-truck collided in the 400 block of East U.S. Highway 287 Bypass.
Waxahachie first responders arrived on the scene and quickly began rendering first aid to Carter, who was then transported by air ambulance to a Dallas-area hospital.
Carter succumbed to her injuries Thursday.
The cause of the accident is currently under investigation.
Carter grew up in Waxahachie ISD and graduated in 2001, intending to return to the district and serve the community that supported her.
She initially took a paraprofessional position at Finley Junior High and worked under Melanie Coleman and Miranda Janssen, who also work at Coleman Junior High on the same hallway as Carter's classroom.
"She was our little ray of sunshine in the hallway," Coleman said while standing in the hall they shared. "I don't know where she got her strength from, but she has overcome a lot in her life, and I felt like she was in the best place she had ever been."
This school year was the first as a full-time educator for Carter, who celebrated the signing of her WISD contact with a Facebook post on June 14, 2018.
Carter noted that her lone goal when she began the pursuit of a teaching degree was to "teach in WISD, the district I grew up in."
She wrote, "Just goes to show hard work and determination pay off, and that sometimes you have to take a step backward to excel to where you want to be. Don't be afraid to take that leap of faith, you never know when you will fly."
Carter began her first year as a full-time teacher in the English language arts and reading department at Coleman. She transitioned into a math role in January, which was her dream job.
And it showed.
Her love for math was quickly recognized Friday, as her door was covered in mathematical symbols with cut out pink and red hearts, along with the quote, "Kindness is what counts."
"She was living the dream and was so good at it," Coleman elaborated. "Her students were performing really well, and she liked to talk about it. She was such a great teacher."
Jose Rivera had Carter as a teacher and expressed her laid back attitude. He noted she always ensured her students completed assignments — no matter how long they needed.
Rivera noted Carter always made class fun and made sure to influence the students to work by making them laugh and give rewards.
"Even if you weren't the best student or weren't good in her class, she'll love you, and she didn't get onto you for not doing your work," added student Nate Jones. "She'd try to help you."
"She always made her students laugh and would go out of her way to help more than anything," emphasized student Dylan Terrell.
"Out of all the things, she loved us the most," said student Zachary Pearrow. "She would make sure you were having a good day, and if not, she'd find a way to make sure you'd have a good day."
Several students agreed that they found it easy to express their struggles with Carter and found comfort in her care.
"She knew how it felt, and she's been there," Jones said. "She went through struggles. Any other struggle we had, she had. She was always there to talk to."
He added, "She wanted her students to have the best day they could ever have."
Pearrow piggybacked, "She always made sure everyone had a smile on their face."
April Wilson met Cater in the fifth-grade and the two stayed acquainted over the years. They both had children at the same age and, at one point, their children attended class together.
"She had the warmest heart, always smiling and full of life," Wilson expressed over the phone. "She just wanted to pass it onto the kids. All of her kids that I have run into are just devastated. She made a difference in all the kids she taught."
Coleman Junior High art teacher Rae Whitehead detailed took to Facebook to detail the emotional day on campus and the impression Carter left.
"She is leaving such an amazing legacy for us all, not just the students walking in her room, or the teacher that saw her in the halls... but the world that will forever be impacted because of those of us that were blessed by her," Whitehead stated.
It was also not just the teachers or students at Coleman that appreciated Carter's efforts in education.
Carter was recognized Monday evening during the regular session of the WISD Board of Trustees for her leadership in the organization "The Original Gentlemen," a group of at-risk male students at Coleman that staff and community leaders help teach etiquette and life skills.
Carter and her next-door teacher, Ryan Essl, advised the group to prepare them for their future endeavors and provided a support system for the students.
WISD board president Dusty Autrey regularly volunteered with the OGs, and witnessed the impact Carter had on the young male students.
"She was an intricate part of the WISD family and will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family," Autrey expressed over the phone. "Her contribution and impact to the OG program at Coleman — along with the contribution from Ms. Essl — will be remembered as one of her greatest contributions."
Fellow teachers also remembered Carter always had a Dr Pepper in her hand. In fact, her favorite soda was given out to students on Friday as they visited the memorial table covered in flowers and cards to her family.
Her peers also recalled Carter, who is on the shorter side of the height spectrum, would often jump up to give taller students a high five. She was famous on campus for playfully scaring her co-workers as they turned corners, even hiding in classrooms for the ultimate prank.
The teachers noted she loved tacos with ketchup but, most of all, she cherished her four children and her husband of two years, Darren Carter.
Darren wrote on Facebook about the love he and Mandy shared was like none he'd ever known before.
He also noted he will honor her love by following her example of kindness, mercy and compassion.
"I loved her very deeply, and she loved me as she always said, 'to the moon and back,'" he stated. "She impacted my life, and I will never be the same. She leaves a legacy of love and selfless sacrifice."
A candlelight vigil will be held in Carter's memory at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at in the parking lot of Coleman Junior High that faces U.S. Highway 77. Those interested are encouraged to park in lot along Indian Drive, which faces HEB.
If anyone is interested in donating candles for the vigil, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is also a Meal Train established to help the Carter and Shinpaugh families over the coming weeks. For more information on the Meal Train program or to signup for a date, visit http://bit.ly/2Egof8f.
A GoFundMe has been established to support the family with various costs at http://bit.ly/2WbPJpy.
The organizers of the Meal Train, candlelight and GoFundMe thank the community for its support.