Volusia County educator, paramedic sibling pass away after COVID-19 battles

Volusia County is mourning the loss of a teacher’s aide and paramedic who leaders say were siblings and died after contracting COVID-19. 

In a heartfelt post, Sheriff Mike Chitwood announced the death of the brother-sister duo. Shayla Pennington was a teacher’s aide at Sugar Mill Elementary School. Gerald “Jerry” Jones was a longtime paramedic.

School board member Carl Persis said it was a big loss for the district. Although it was her first year at Sugar Mill, he says she taught at several schools in the district for years.

“That love she had for children just ran sincerely deep in her heart,” he said.

His wife, Susan, was a principal at Pine Trail Elementary School where Pennington worked before being assigned to Sugar Mill.

“And the students just really loved her. The teachers depended on her, so I know this is a big loss to the school,” she said.

Parent Jamie Jarrard met her at Pine Trail, where Pennington helped her daughter with speech therapy when she was young. She said they formed a lasting relationship.

“She kept in contact with us and made sure that Hailey was gonna be OK, our daughter, and asked about her all the time,” Jarrard said.

Sue Urban said she met Pennington’s brother, Jerry, when she was training to become a paramedic. She said he became a mentor.

“He actually molded me into the paramedic that I am today,” she said.

She said he was positive, kind and funny.

“He definitely would not want us to be grieving over his death. He would want us to be celebrating his life,” she said.