ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Former students of Susan Montoya, the teacher killed in last weekend’s hot air balloon crash, say she left a lasting impact on their lives. “She didn’t want you to barely work your way through the class, she wanted you to earn your grades. We have friends from classmates all the way clear to North Carolina and all of us are heartbroken,” former student Stephanie Nunn said.

Montoya, her husband John, and three others died last Saturday. Investigators say when the balloon plummeted, it hit a power line and burst into flames. She worked at Georgia O’Keefe Elementary.

Two former students in Montoya’s English class say she was known for her compassion and dedication and made sure students would succeed. “My grade point average was at the bottoms when I first got there, but I graduated with a 3.7 thanks to her,” former student Quenton Cummings said.

Albuquerque Public Schools says the co-workers chipped in to pay for the balloon ride as a farewell gift because Montoya was about to start a job at a new school.