PALM DESERT, Calif. -

Loved ones, students and staff at Palm Desert High School will say their final goodbyes to math teacher Jill Thomas Grant at a public memorial service at the school starting at 11 a.m. Friday.

The 41-year-old Aztec alumni was believed to have been murdered by her live-in boyfriend Michael John Franco after her body was discovered in Indio two days before Christmas. Franco is pleading not guilty in her murder.

"It was a shock, a real shock. It's unbelievable that something like this could happen to someone on staff, a friend," said Principal Bob Hicks.

"I'm still furious at what's occurred and I'm deeply saddened by my sister's death, and I miss her immensely," said Grant's brother Michael Thomas.

Thomas told us in the wake of his sister's death, there was an outpouring of phone calls that flooded the FitzHenry-Weifels Mortuary.

"It just became really apparent to us that there were just so many people who would want to be able to pay their respects," said Thomas.

The family decided to include Grant's students and the community by holding a public memorial service in the high school gymnasium, the campus where grant taught for nearly two decades.

"It's a place where we can give tribute to Jill and there will be a place where you can write a message to her and leave it with her and her family," said Hicks.

Principal Hicks expects hundreds of people will fill the gym to remember the teacher he says was loved by so many. It's a chance to honor their "Aztec Angel" and come together to find closure, "so that we remember Jill as the woman that she was and that we can help carry on her memory in some way shape or form," said Hicks.    

"It makes me feel really good that the community is out there sending us their love and support. It makes me feel really good that my sister had such an impact on the Valley," said Thomas.

Counselors will be available for students and staff at the memorial service and also when students return to school Monday from winter break.