TIPTON COUNTY, TN (WMC) - The summer break has been marred by tragedy for students and staff at a Tipton County high school, as a Brighton High School teacher was killed in a freak accident on July 4.
Michelle Rankin died near her home in Lauderdale County in an ATV accident. Now, the whole community is mourning her death.
"July 4th, 2018 is going to have a whole new meaning," said Cliff Marion, Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church Covington.
Within hours of learning of Rankin's death, Marion made plans for a prayer vigil. He said about 150 people came to the church on Independence Day night to lift the Rankin family up in prayer.
"She was not afraid to be bold in her witness and to challenge others to rise above the world around you," Marion said. "Michelle would do anything to put somebody in a position to be successful."
Rankin taught agriculture courses at Brighton High School for 12 years.
"She was going down her road after checking some cows, and a deer jumped out from the tree line right near where she was and literally knocked her right off the 4-wheeler," Marion said, "She fell and hit her head on the road."
Social media displays an outpouring of love and support for Rankin, pointing to her as an inspirational educator and church member who touched the lives of everyone she encountered.
"Michelle was a loving mother and an amazing teacher," said Dr. John Combs, Superintendent of Tipton County Schools in a written statement. "Although her time at Brighton High School was only 12 years, the impact she made on the students and staff there will be legendary. We are so saddened by her loss, and our prayers continue to be with the whole family during this heart-breaking time."
"Brighton High School is mourning the loss of an outstanding teacher but more importantly a great friend, mentor, and Christian woman," wrote Christi Huffman, Brighton High School Principal.
Marion said he believes it's no coincidence that Rankin sang at church just last Sunday. It's something she does twice a year and the lyrics appeared prophetical about the days to come.
"To me, I think God gave her one more gift before he brought her home," said Marion.
Rankin leaves behind a husband and two children.
Her visitation will be Friday night at First Baptist Church Covington from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. The funeral will be on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. also at the church.
A fund has been set up for her family at Regions Bank in Covington. The family will later decide what to do with the funds.
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