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September 12, 2012 04:54 PM

Former Instructor: Connors Was Always Smiling

Twenty-four-year-old Amanda Connors was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon in front of a salon on 41st Street by 38-year-old Tyrone Smith. 

Before she was the manager at the 41st Street Cost Cutters, Connors was a student at the Stewart School of Hairstyling and graduated four years ago.

Stewart School of Hairstyling is a place cosmetology students go to learn the finer points of style, but if you ask her former instructor, Connors had something that cannot be taught.

"She is definitely a girl of integrity,"  Senior Instructor Penny Thompson said.

In her 29 years of teaching, Thompson has shown thousands of students how to cut and color.  She will tell you some caught on faster than others.

"Yes, yes, let me tell you they stick out in your head, some of those!" Thompson said as she laughed. "The good thing about Amanda is she stuck out, but positively, all good stuff."

Thompson never forgot about this particular student, whom she said was a positive, upbeat and hardworking young woman with a promising career ahead of her.

"She just had a great smile. You saw it a lot," Thompson said.

After leaving this classroom, a lot of Stewart's students make their way to Cost Cutter's for their first jobs. Thompson's heart sank even before the name of the victim was released.  Somehow she knew it was Connors who stood up to Tyrone Smith. 

Though she lost her life, Connors potentially saved others and now Sioux Falls Police are calling her a hero.  It does not surprise Thompson, who said that was just Connors' style.

"I don't know what courage Amanda had to face at that moment," Thompson said, pausing for a moment.  "Until you're in that moment, who knows what you would do?  But, once again, she did everything right.  Just like she's always done."

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