JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The scores of students who sat in Carol Vivian Slack’s classes during her 40-year tenure as a teacher in Duval County Public Schools would likely remember her performing all the characters’ voices as she read aloud from books like James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate factory.
Slack passed away on January 17, 2021, at the age of 76.
A life-long resident of Jacksonville, Slack began her career with Duval County Public Schools in August 1970 and retired in June 2010 from Crystal Springs Elementary School.
Throughout her professional life and after retirement, close friends of Slack said she was very active in politics and education advocacy.
“She was always an advocate for teachers and education,” Slack’s long-time friend Kathleen Campbell said. “She was published frequently in the editorial page of the Times-Union, she went to Tallahassee with DTU and visited legislators on behalf of teachers. She went to Orlando for FAA, she was always a very strong advocate for teachers and public education, even after her retirement.”
The leader of Duval Teachers United released a statement on Slack’s death.
“It is so hard to summarize in a few words Carole‘s dedication and commitment to our students, community, and public education. First love was what she did in the classroom to educate and inspire all of her students. With her work with the union, she was at every meeting trying to be an advocate whether it was a legislative session or helping us with Candidate screening, lobbying the school board and standing up for what was right for the classroom and always for what was right for our students. Even in her retirement, she was still an advocate by writing letters to the editor and mobilizing teachers and para[professional]s to stay active and have a strong voice for their working conditions and their students. Her love for her students and her career was 100% pure and always wanted the best for those that she taught. Carol will truly be missed and was one of a kind.”Terrie Brady, President, Duval Teachers United
Slack began her career during a tumultuous era in American History, as school desegregation sparked unrest throughout the south. Close friends of Slack recounted to News4Jax that her work with young minority children on behalf of the Jacksonville Urban League, at times, put her in danger.
“Her co-workers at the time they were doing the riots in Jacksonville,” said Campbell. “It was during the time of the axhandle and the sit-ins and they actually smuggled her out in the backseat of their car to safety because they didn’t want her to get in her car and try to drive home on her own through the protests that were going on downtown.”
The reach of Slack’s former students ranges far and wide, even now to Jacksonville City Hall.
“She helped shape my life, my mother at school,” said 8th District Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman. “She managed to keep up with me and encouraged me through adulthood. I’m going to miss her.”
Slack’s friends said she’ll be remembered as a selfless, humble person who never lost her fervent dedication to public education. They said she was also fascinated by Jacksonville’s history and loved animals, particularly dogs. They said she was always willing to go the extra mile to help students and friends with anything they needed.
A memorial event is scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday at Trinity Baptist Church located at 800 Hammond Blvd on Jacksonville’s Westside.