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'One of the best teachers in the world': Former students mourning loss of Austin teacher

Christina Garcia-Mata, 39, was swept away by heavy rains and fell while hiking in the Franklin Mountains.

AUSTIN, Texas — Former students are remembering an Austin ISD teacher who was killed while hiking in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso this week.

Authorities said 39-year-old Christina Garcia-Mata was swept away by heavy rains and fell down a mountain, injuring herself. Officials responded to a report of a missing hiker at around 4 p.m. Monday and found Garcia-Mata's body about two hours later.

Garcia-Mata was a long-time teacher at Akins Early College High School in South Austin. According to the school paper, The Eagle Eye, she had taught at the school since 2006, teaching Teen Leadership, SEL, U.S. History and AVID. 

Now her former students are grieving her loss and fondly remembering her.

Credit: Akins Early College High School
Christina Garcia-Mata

"Oh, my heart is so saddened by this news! Mrs. Mata and Mr. Mata were such a big influence at Akin when I went there 10 years ago," Breana Chapa said. "Praying for her family especially her son and husband."

"Very sad news. Her and Mr. Mata were beloved by my classmates while I was there. Both energetic, positive and selfless. Each would make time for a one-on-one with any student that asked, hands down. Her legacy is far and wide through family, friends and 15+ graduating classes," Frank Cruz said.

"[She] influenced all of us to be better people and be positive and loving. I will truly miss her," Tommy Andrade said.

"One of the best teachers in the world," Caitlin Jester said. "She loved her students and you knew it. Everyone loved her."

Other former students also said Garcia-Mata always pushed her students to be their best and that the Akins community "won't be the same" without her "huge smile and positive spirit."

The Eagle’s Eye reported Akins Principal Tina Salazar sent an email notifying the community of Garcia-Mata’s death, calling the news "stunning and devastating." Counselors will be available at the school’s library for students and community members.

A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help Garcia-Mata's family.

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