Beloved former science teacher remembered for adventurous spirit, empathy for students

Caroline Kent passed away Aug. 31

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – No matter where they went, Travis Kent says it never took long for someone to recognize his mom, former Rockledge High School chemistry teacher Caroline Kent.

“(They) would say, ‘Miss Kent, Miss Kent,’ and they would come and track her down,” Travis Kent told News 6.

In a 30-year career with Brevard Public Schools, Caroline Kent taught countless sophomore and junior high schoolers about the periodic table and stoichiometry — lessons some of her students still remember decades later.

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“I can remember so many times where she was bright-red in the face laughing,” said Jameel Mohammed, a Rockledge High School grad who was a student in Kent’s class from 2001-2002.

“She was really funny,” Travis Kent said. “I mean, she was she was a chemistry teacher so she had a lot of tools at her disposal. She would do wacky science experiments of lighting things on fire and she’d have all these chemicals and stuff like that.”

Photo courtesy of Travis Kent. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Former student Sean Kutzner remembers a story when Kent refused to order a specific chemical for the AICE exam because she knew it was a volatile substance.

“(Kent) said, ‘There’s no way my kids are handling that, that’s one carbon atom away from rocket fuel!’”

Kutzner says her persistence eventually prompted the course leaders to allow a safer substitute for the exam.

“She was not afraid to stand up for what she knew was right as the expert,” Kutzner said.

Her empathy for her students and love for outdoor adventure were evident in the comments below the announcement of Kent’s death on Facebook on Aug. 31.

Photo courtesy of Travis Kent. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

“She never took life too seriously and she always knew how to have a good time,” former student Sid Ferrell told News 6.

A celebration of life was held Sunday afternoon in Merritt Island. In lieu of flowers, Kent’s family asked to consider donating to a local food bank or the Brevard Humane Society.

Kent was an avid surfer who took up the sport after retirement and even went on an international surfing trip earlier this year.

“She was incredibly active. She loved skiing, snow skiing and waterskiing. So she was very, very active, she made every day count,” Travis Kent said.

A paddle-out ceremony was held Saturday morning in Cocoa Beach to honor Kent’s legacy.

Photo courtesy of Travis Kent. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Kent had a lifelong love for horses and even competed in equestrian competitions.

As if that wasn’t enough, Kent was also an accomplished scuba diver, venturing into underwater caves and springs in her younger years.

Since his mom’s death, Travis Kent says many of her former students have described how Ms. Kent inspired them to pursue science after graduation.

“I think students know that students can tell when a teacher cares and when they don’t care,” Kent said. “My mom really cared. She really cared about them on both on a chemistry course level and on a human level, too.”

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About the Authors:

Katrina Scales is a producer for the News 6+ Takeover at 3:30 p.m. She also writes and voices the podcast Your Florida Daily. Katrina was born and raised in Brevard County and started her journalism career in radio before joining News 6 in June 2021.

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.