Collier Charter Academy teacher dies of COVID-19 in the hospital

A beloved school teacher in Southwest Florida, who was a dear wife and mother, has died.

The family of Jayla Smith, a Collier Charter Academy kindergarten teacher, confirmed Tuesday their wife and mother died of COVID-19 recently in the hospital.

Smith was admitted to the hospital to be treated for COVID-19 Aug. 4 and was then placed on a ventilator Aug. 14 before her death Aug. 20. Smith leaves behind her husband, Cory Smith, and their three sons.

(Center) Jayla Smith with her husband and their three sons. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

Jayla and Cory Smith were meant to be together forever.

“We grew up together,” Cory said. “We were in the same grade and from the same small town in southern Illinois.”

The two recent celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary in June. They had their three boys together, combined with a lot of love.

“I can’t really think of anybody who didn’t really love her to death,” Cory said.

“She would always tell me how much she loved all of us boys, all of her kids,” son Hunter Smith said. “She would’ve literally done anything for us.”

Jayla would do anything for her family and anything for the students she taught at Collier Charter Academy.

“They would literally hug on her and say how much they loved her and stuff like that,” Cory said. “And honestly, I don’t really think that’s the case with every teacher. I think she was actually something extra special.”

We asked Cory if Jayla was vaccinated for COVID-19. He said he understands both sides as to why people get the shot or do not. He told us, as for sharing his wife’s medical history, that’s not something he wants to do.

Jayla had recently finished her teacher certification program. It arrived in the mail Monday, days after she died.

“She was on a ventilator for almost a week at the end, so she couldn’t communicate like during that time, but we still got to message back-and-forth a bit before that.”

“It’s rough,” Hunter said. “It’s something that I’d always think about, you know, I just daydream about it, being able to tell my mom that … showing her how I can be successful, and now, I mean I’m not gonna be able to see that reaction from her.”

Reporter:Gail Levy
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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