BARDSTOWN - To those who worked with them, Kathy and Samantha Netherland were two people who had tremendous passion for their respective crafts.
Kathy, a special education teacher at Bardstown Elementary School, was known as an enthusiastic woman who loved teaching. Her daughter, Samantha, a sophomore at Bardstown High School, was a student who excelled academically and had dreams of becoming a marine biologist.
Shockwaves ran through Bardstown City Schools and the community Tuesday when word spread that both were found dead at their home. State police ruled that the deaths were homicides.
"Both Kathy and Samantha will be sorely missed," Superintendent Brent Holsclaw said.
Processing their deaths has been difficult, Holsclaw said, because there are so many unknowns as to what happened.
"You try to have plans in place," Holsclaw said. "But when these events happen, it's not easier, even though you tried to plan as best as you could. But we're focusing on meeting the emotional needs and providing support for students and staff members."
The district is offering counseling. Counselors were at all Bardstown City Schools Wednesday ready to speak with students and staff members about the Netherlands. The district is also in the early stages of planning a public memorial.
For the past seven years, Kathy Netherland worked in special education at the elementary school. She primarily worked with fifth-graders. "Kathy was an energetic teacher," Principal Paul Bowling said. "She put a lot of energy into helping her kids and was very passionate about what she did.
During a recent interview with the Standard, Kathy discussed how ecstatic she was for her daughter, who had recently been accepted into the Gatton Academy for its class of 2016.
"I'm very excited for her," Kathy said. "This was her goal and her dream and despite everything that has happened over the past year with the loss of her father (Robert Netherland), she did this on her own. I couldn't be prouder of her."
Kathy also discussed how determined her daughter was, recalling an instance when Samantha was in the fourth grade and spent almost seven hours writing a personal narrative for her writing portfolio. Samantha sat on the couch handwriting several pages of the assignment until she was pleased with the final product.
To her teachers, Samantha was the epitome of a good student. An honor roll student, Samantha was involved with the Young Leaders Institute with the Bardstown-Nelson County Chamber of Commerce, the BHS Academic Team and the Women in Science Club. She also served as the sophomore secretary on the student council and treasurer for the Tri-M Honor Society.
"Samantha was an outstanding, wonderful young lady," Principal Chris Pickett said. "She was gifted academically and musically. She was someone you wanted to be friends with."
The 16-year-old sophomore had dreams of becoming a marine biologist. During a recent interview with the Standard, Samantha said her dream was to work at a place like the Newport Aquarium in northern Kentucky.