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Sumter School District mourns loss of coworker, friend

Arthena Woods, who led the District's Title I program, is remembered as kind and funny with a smile that would brighten anyone's day.

SUMTER, S.C. — At the Sumter School District office Thursday, the hallways were a little quieter.

The voice of Arthena Woods was missing, after she passed away on Monday.

Keasha Grant, an employee with the district, had made a routine of stopping by Woods' office.

"It's like an instant calm when you sit at her desk," Grant said. "When I came in on Wednesday morning, oh gosh, that just sent me over the edge, I think, and I thought I was going to be a little calmer, but I wasn't."

Credit: Keasha Grant
Arthena Woods

Woods, 43, died of natural causes, according to the Richland County coroner.

Friends say she was a mother with a kind personality and a smile that would brighten anyone's day.

"In addition to that, she was really funny," Grant said.

At Sumter Schools, Woods led the Title I program, working to help students in need get resources to achieve success.

Brian Alston, a school board member, shared one of his memories from Title I Day at Sumter Schools.

Credit: Brian Alston
Arthena Woods wearing 'miracle worker' shirt.

"She had on a shirt that said miracle worker, and that is ultimately what she was to our district, a miracle worker," Alston said. "Every day, I can say that she imparted wisdom into the lives of our students and into our community."

District Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox expressed sadness over Woods' death in a statement.

"The Sumter School District family is mourning the loss of Arthena Woods who served as our Director of Title I since 2014," the statement said. "She was our friend, our team member, and a member of our Sumter School District family. Arthena truly left a lasting impression on the lives she touched. Our deepest condolences are extended to her family."

Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday.