Under a sea of red balloons, dozens gathered outside of Kimball High School Wednesday night to remember a mentor credited with helping countless teens move on to college.
As the Assistant Director of School Operations for Education, Hanan Ali-Lacey worked in about two dozen different Dallas ISD schools as a mentor who helped prepare students for life after high school.
Sunday, she was killed when another driver struck her car.
“It’s been hard here at the school. The atmosphere is down. Everyone’s heartbroken,” said friend and fellow educator Mar-K Craddock.
In front of more than 100 students, teachers and community members, former students took the stage one by one to share tributes.
“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today, because she believed in me along with all of the other teachers that were at Kimball,” said a 2015 grad who credited Ali-Lacey with multiple college acceptance letters and a full-ride scholarship.
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It's a legacy that other former students, who've gone on to work for Education is Freedom, will carry on.
Though many fought back tears, Ali-Lacy’s parents, Alicia and Earnest Ward, wore smiles seeing just how many lives their daughter touched.
“This is so beautiful. This is so beautiful. These students are here, and we’re all grieving, but they’re celebrating her life. They’re celebrating her legacy. And even as a very young person, look how much impact that she made as a young person,” said Alicia Ward.
“All I know is that she’s going to be missed, but she won’t be forgotten. That’s what’s important. That’s what’s more important to me,” said Earnest Ward.
Ali-Lacy leaves behind a husband and two young boys.