MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Students in Merced are mourning the loss of a beloved educator who passed away suddenly from cancer.
Maria Pulido was a 3rd-grade teacher at Peterson Elementary.
She tragically passed away on May 15th from pancreatic cancer.
Fellow teachers say her room, number 18, will never be the same.
"One minute she was here and the next minute she had taken leave and we didn't see her again," said fellow 3rd-grade teacher, Maria VanZile.
She said it's been a rough couple of weeks without Ms. Pulido.
Fighting back tears, she describes what she'll miss the most.
"It's just very difficult when you're used to going into someone's room in the morning on the way to work before you go into your classroom," said VanZile.
She said Pulido was a great teacher and an incredible friend to those around her.
"She wouldn't judge you. She wouldn't look down upon you. She would always give you positive feedback," VanZile said.
When the kids heard of Ms. Pulido's passing, they decided to raise money by selling lemonade to build a memorial garden in Ms. Pulido's honor.
"We decided to move the garden right outside her classroom. And have it in an area where kids would see it every day. And take a moment to reflect and to remember her legacy," said 5th grade teacher Ashley Linden.
Her colleagues say her legacy is extraordinary. And they hope students embody those qualities.
"Kindness, love, respect for others, and I hope they carry on that tradition, not just this school year but throughout their life," said VanZile.
It was just last year, almost to the same day, the elementary school lost another teacher to breast cancer.
The principal said they have grief counselors for students who have been having a hard time with this sudden loss.