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GREENWOOD, Ark. – Police officers and firefighters in an Arkansas town helped teachers say goodbye to a colleague who died unexpectedly by serving as substitute teachers during the funeral.

“Ms. Nelms was a supporter of the fire and police department,” Fire Chief Stwart Bryan told KFSM. “Now that the school’s in need, we wanted to help the school out. We wanted to make sure all the teachers were available to attend the funeral.”

Jennifer Nelms was a paraprofessional for 5th graders at East Hills Middle School in Greenwood, Arkansas. She wasn’t feeling well August 19 and left school early.

“So she thought, ‘I’m going to go home. I’m going to sleep. I’m going to clean my house, and I’ll see you Monday morning,'” recalled Karen Benjamin, who worked in the same classroom as Nelms.

Nelms died the next day from complications with Lupus, KFSM reports.

Police officers and firefighters say they’re glad they were able to help her co-workers say goodbye.

“It’s certainly an honor to be in the class that she taught in, and she was a great person, obviously loved by a lot of people and students, and she’s going to be greatly missed,” said Police Chief William Dawson.

Nelms is survived by a husband and two young sons.