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Husband, students mourn tragic loss of beloved CMSD teacher

Husband, students mourn tragic loss of beloved CMSD teacher
Posted at 11:44 PM, Nov 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-06 23:44:52-04

CLEVELAND — Family members and students are mourning the loss of a Cleveland Metropolitan School District teacher tragically killed earlier this week.

Danielle Chronister, 33, died after being hit by a dump truck on her way to school Wednesday.

Police said Chronister was crossing Chester Avenue at East 21st Street just before 8:00 a.m. when a dump truck turned right and struck her. She was knocked to the ground and the truck’s rear tires ran her over. She was transported to MetroHealth Medical Center where she died.

RELATED STORY: CMSD teacher struck, killed by dump truck while crossing intersection at East 21st and Chester

Da’nira McClary, 21, was a student in Chronister’s science class. She’s now a full-time student at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. She said Chronister was more like a best friend than a teacher.

“She was always so.. heartwarming. You walk into a room, you instantly knew she was in there because she was just so happy,” said McClary.

A bubbly personality, a picture perfect smile, and her kind, selfless nature made Chronister a favorite among CMSD students.

She taught science at the district’s MC2STEM High School, and previously taught a film class as a long-term sub at Cleveland High School for Digital Arts.

“It doesn't seem real. It seems completely unreal,” said Ben Chronister, Danielle Chronister’s husband.

Ben Chronister is an English teacher and was on his way to work Wednesday morning when he got the call about his wife’s accident.

“To go from kissing her goodbye to about an hour and a half later or so, finding out that she was dead. I mean, you know, there's really nothing that preps you for that,” said Ben Chronister.

Now, he’s holding onto the memories of the love he describes as goofy, weird, and fantastic.

“We balanced each other. And it was kind of perfect,” said Ben Chronister.

He’s also leaning on the students who loved her as much as he did for support.

“You can tell how much, like how big of a passion being a teacher was to her. Like, if you had a bad day, you came in her class, more than likely your day was going to get brightened up,” said Marvin Watts, a former student of Danielle Chronister’s.

Watts, 21, was a student in the film class Danielle Chronister taught. He’s now a full-time student studying motion pictures at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

“The impact I think she had the most on the community is showing that teachers, especially high school teachers, can just be normal people you can trust, like outside of teaching. She was she acted like a normal person, and she gave actual life advice,” said Watts.

The Chronisters also made a huge impact on former student Destiney Tuttle, 19. She will be transferring to Kent State University in the spring semester to study fashion.

“She was practically a mom to me. I have called her mom since pretty much the day I met her. Mr. Chronister, her husband–I've called dad since day one. They've helped me through a lot of stuff,” said Tuttle. “They help me through everything, all my stuff. They are the reason that I'm still in college. They pushed me forward to keep going towards my dreams, and that's why I took a semester off because they both encouraged me to go explore my passion.”

Tuttle said learning about her former teacher’s death broke her heart, but takes comfort in knowing that her love for teaching and for her students will live on.

"The only thing that I see positive out of the situation would be the GoFundMe they started. And because she knows it's going back to her students and that's where her heart lies the most. She loved teaching and I that's the only reason why I'm even at some sort of peace with anything that happened," said Tuttle.

Ben Chronister and their family started a GoFundMe for a memorial scholarship in Danielle Chronister’s name which will help students at MC2STEM High School pay for college and follow their passions as she did.

“All she wanted was for her students to have the kind of life that they wanted to have to let them make choices, to let them achieve their dreams and goals and a scholarship is one very tangible and very helpful way of getting there,” said Ben Chronister.

But even though his wife’s legacy will live on in the scholarship named after her, Ben Chronister still wishes he could speak to her one last time.

“I would tell her, you know, ‘I love you and I wish–I wish she could be here.’ And she liked it when I told her stories. And I wish–I wish I could tell her another story. That's really what I want.”

The GoFundMe for the Danielle Chronister Memorial Scholarship Fund can be found here.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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