PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A Maryvale school is mourning the loss of a kindergartener, who police say was murdered at the hands of her father.
Teachers and administrators at Spitalny Justine Elementary are sharing pictures and memories of 5-year-old Nasha Smith.
“It’s going to be a really hard process explaining to kindergarten and first-graders why one of their classmates is suddenly not here anymore,” says special education teacher Ryann Konstantelos.
Konstantelos says Nasha was a “pitbull firecracker” who was sassy and sometimes sneaky.
“She always wanted to be the center of attention but, yet she was the most loving and compassionate little nugget I’ve ever met,” says Konstantelos.
Nasha’s teacher also took pleasure in watching the 5-year-old make great strides in her classroom. Konstantelos says there’s no doubt Nasha’s mother, Dasia Patterson, played a big role in her success.
“Mom truly cared not just about education but their social and emotional wellbeing,” says Konstantelos. “It’s obvious by the way she raised these girls, they were beautiful and intelligent girls.”
The Cartwright School District sent a letter to parents saying officials now have a team of counselors and psychologists at Spitalny to help students and staff through this difficult time.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help with the family's funeral expenses.
“She was definitely a huge personality in our classroom,” says Konstantelos. “Our classroom’s just going to be a lot more empty without her.”