JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman who was found dead Saturday in her Westside home was a science teacher at Atlantic Coast High School.
Current and former students on social media identified her as Vivian James. Atlantic Coast High School PTSA also posted Sunday afternoon on Facebook about the teacher’s death.
“It is with a very heavy heart that we share news of the passing of one of our teachers, Vivian James. Grief counselors will be on campus next week to help our students and faculty as we mourn her loss. We will post more information as we get it,” the post reads.
Parents told News4Jax an automated voicemail from the principal of Atlantic Coast High, who shared the news of James’ death, also went out Sunday afternoon.
James was described as an outgoing, happy, dedicated teacher and neighbor who always went out of her way to help people. Students and teachers said she was the life of campus. They said James used song and dance to get students up and moving and keep them involved.
Connor Davis, a junior at the school, said James helped him come out of his shell through dance and movement.
“She was very funny and a very outspoken person,” Davis said.
Atlantic Coast High TV production instructor Chad Cushnir shared with News4Jax numerous videos that showcased James’ bubbly and adventurous personality.
“So when I first came to Atlantic Coast, I was here as the science department head and it was very interesting by getting a chance to order all the scientific equipment," she can be heard saying in a video interview for a TV production story. "So it’s very nice and rewarding to be a part of that inaugural experience. Go Stingrays!”
City Councilwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson posted a lengthy thread on Twitter, praising James, who taught Priestly Jackson’s daughters, as “a chemistry teacher of the mold of the scientist in Hidden Figures.”
Good teachers are blessings that remain with us throughout our lives...and every now and then divine fate brings a teacher into our lives who will be an angel and a light. Ms. Vivian James was that for our daughters, Imani and Kya. She was a chemistry teacher of ...— B.A.Priestly Jackson (@Priestjax) December 29, 2019
According to Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office records, the 49-year-old woman’s death is being investigated as a murder.
Police were called Saturday morning to the home on Glen Alan Court near 103rd Street. An officer at the scene told News4Jax that the Sheriff’s Office was notified after a friend came to check on her, and that person called 911.
An investigator at the scene said it’s believed the woman, who lived alone in the house, had been dead for 48 hours. The cause of the woman’s death was not released, and homicide detectives are investigating the circumstances. Detectives said they suspect foul play.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477).