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Teacher collapses in classroom, dies

Psychologists, social workers at Biltmore Elementary to help students, staff

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Biltmore Elementary School teacher collapsed in her classroom Tuesday and later died at the hospital, police said.

Mildretta Chapple, 43, was a fifth-grade teacher at Biltmore Elementary, according to the school's website. Parents and students described her as a kind and patient teacher, who left a positive impression on hundreds of children. 

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office incident report, Chapple was teaching in her classroom when she collapsed. Several of her students ran to a nearby classroom and banged on the door of another fifth-grade teacher, who ran to help Chapple.

He tried to perform CPR and called 911. 

Chapple was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital about 12:30 p.m. by Jacksonville Fire Rescue. She died at the hospital just after 1:30 p.m., the report said.

A nurse told police that Chapple had a history of high blood pressure.

Parents told News4Jax Wednesday that Chapple was one of the best teachers they had ever seen and she always wanted her students to succeed. 

"She was an awesome teacher. If it hadn't been for her, my daughter wouldn't have been promoted to the next grade level. She was great," said Crystal Hand, the mother of one of Chapple's former students. 

Angelina Jones' son, Andre, was Chapple's student last year. Andre came back to the school to thank Chapple for helping him succeed, but he missed her by just a few hours. 

"I told him this morning and he was like, 'No, mom. Really?' I was like, 'Yes," Jones said. "She was an excellent teacher. She was sweet, loving. She cared about her students."

The loss has devastated the entire Duval County School District, where Chapple had worked for 10 years.

"The entire community of Biltmore Elementary School and Duval County Public Schools is deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of one of its staff members," DCPS spokeswoman Laureen Ricks said in a statement.

Ricks said that specially-trained school psychologists and social workers were at the school Wednesday "and will provide continued support as needed."


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