Yellow and green balloons floated above a crowd gathered outside Dunbar Elementary School Wednesday as family, friends and colleagues clutched candles, held hands and remembered Jacara Sproaps.
"She loved her school," said Janice Sproaps, mother of the 38-year-old Dunbar principal who was killed last week, along with her boyfriend, Maurice Partlow, outside her home in the Gravois Park neighborhood of St. Louis. "She just wanted the best for all of you."
Community leaders stood alongside Sproaps' parents on the steps of the school at 1415 N. Garrison Ave., and called for an end to gun violence. Pastors, who organized the vigil, led the group in prayer before directing attendees into the street to release the balloons, chosen to reflect Dunbar's school colors.
Teachers in attendance, including LaKesia Richmond-Brooks, remembered Sproaps' guidance and dedication.
A Dunbar teacher who started out as a teaching assistant, Richmond-Brooks said Sproaps was instrumental in helping her receive her certification.
"Teacher Appreciation Day was always Teacher Appreciation Week," Richmond-Brooks said. "From Monday to Friday, she celebrated us."
"We adored Ms. Sproaps," she added. "I adored Ms. Sproaps."
A funeral will be held Tuesday at Believers Temple World Fellowship. A GoFundMe account has been set up to raise money for Sproaps' 18-year-old son, Jairis, who was injured in the shooting.