JERSEY CITY, N.J. (PIX11) — Family, friends, and loved ones gathered Wednesday for the funeral of a beloved Jersey City kindergarten teacher and mother whose life was cut short in a homicide.

Luz Hernandez, 33, was a devoted teacher who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of her students, as well as her own children, according to her family. As a sign of her involvement in their lives, Wednesday’s funeral procession passed by the BelovED Community Charter School, where she taught, so that the school community could share in the final goodbye.

Teachers and school staff members, some holding flowers, lined the street as the hearse carrying Hernandez drove past the school. Those closest to the hearse placed their flowers into the vehicle.

“She was always happy,” said Spanish teacher Oscar Zapata. “She was the light of the school.”

The students, meanwhile, stayed inside. School officials decided it would be too difficult for the children. Hernandez’s two older children are in sixth grade and fourth grade at the school.

“She was an amazing mom. She was always with her kids,” Zapata said.

Hernandez’s body was found in a shallow grave in Kearny on Feb. 7, one day after she unexpectedly did not show up for work and police were called. Her death was deemed a homicide, as investigators found evidence of blunt force trauma to her head, as well as compressions to her neck. 

Hernandez’s estranged husband, Cesar Santana, was arrested in Florida on Friday. He’s accused of desecrating/concealing human remains, according to officials. Authorities have also issued an arrest warrant for another man, Leiner Miranda Lopez, on the same charge, but have yet to apprehend him.

Family members and the community are now rallying around Hernandez and Santana’s three children, ages 3, 9, and 12.

“Suddenly, the person who was the provider for them is not there,” said Bret Schundler. “We want to provide all the support we can to the family to meet that need for the children.”

A GoFundMe page was set up to help support the children. The donations will be put toward a scholarship fund, according to organizers. They have raised nearly $38,000, as of Wednesday afternoon.

Hernandez was set to earn her graduate degree in education in the coming spring as she continued to dedicate her life to children, her family said. A separate memorial service at the school where she taught will be held at a later time.