Josh Slack is a family man. His family is from Lufkin, his co-workers are like family, and he has a beautiful family of his own.
Although he is no relation to the family associated with Slack Elementary, Mr. Slack attended school there for his 5th and 6th grade years. His brother, Jared, attended 1st through 6th grade at Slack Elementary. His mother’s family are the Montes family from Lufkin and his dad owned a wrecking yard at one point.
Mr. Slack graduated from Lufkin High School in 1997. He played a little football and baseball, but he also worked at Randall’s Grocery. He attended Angelina College for two years and then went to Stephen F. Austin to receive his degree. During the summer months, Mr. Slack worked at the paper mill in Lufkin.
His first job out of college was to teach 5th grade math and science at Brandon Elementary.
“I graduated on Saturday and started work on Monday,” he said.
Mr. Slack always wanted to be in the business of educating students.
He said, “I’ve always wanted to teach. When I was in 5th grade, Joyce Vann at Slack Elementary had me tutor a kid in math in the afternoons. From there I’ve always wanted to teach. I thought I didn’t have any other choice – either coach or teach. I wanted to do high school from the get go. I was originally a mathematics major and kinesiology minor.”
Mr. Slack married a local girl, Amber Camp.
He said, “Amber and I dated my senior year. She was a junior. We reunited my senior year in college and got married four years later.”
After teaching for a couple of years, Mr. Slack went back to school to get a Master’s degree.
He said, “Mom never being satisfied with the status quo, I guess that’s the Montes side of the family, after my second year of teaching she told me ‘you’ve got to go back’. Mom pushed. At the time I was thinking, I don’t have the passion for it, but I’ll go back. I started my Master’s third year teaching. Always pushing do better, do better, do better.”
Do better he did. Today, Mr. Slack is the Assistant Principal at Coston Elementary.
“I’m happy to come to work every day. You never know what’s going to happen. Your plan can always change,” said Mr. Slack.
Especially when working with a principal like Kathy Jost.
He said, “Working for Kathy is amazing.”
Mrs. Jost encourages Mr. Slack to step out of his comfort zone on many occasions. The campus is known for making learning fun. They implement the Ron Clark House System that connects students across the campus with those they might have never known. At the class “sorting” party, the staff dresses up in their class color and have a huge celebration.
Mr. Slack said, “At school I’ve dressed up in that suit (for those who went to Convocation, you will instantly remember the man in “that suit” the tie-died suit amongst a sea of purple t-shirts – that was Josh Slack!), multiple dresses. Kathy “voluntold” me to wear a dress. Amber’s mom has made princess dresses for my wife and daughter for Halloween. My first year here Kathy wanted me to wear a dress. So, I did it on my own terms. I told her ‘I’m going to bring my own.’ You never know what she’s going to have in store for you!”
Getting to Coston is a story in and of itself. Mr. and Mrs. Slack lived in College Station while Amber finished her degree. They moved to the Galveston area in Texas City for her to attend UTMB Galveston. All along the way, Mr. Slack worked at various schools and coached.
At one point, Mrs. Slack was driving long distances to work downtown Houston at St. Luke’s. When she was offered a position at the VA Clinic in Lufkin, the couple decided to move home.
Mr. Slack said, “I finished up my year and sold the house. I had gotten a job in Diboll to teach 8th grade math and coaching. I stayed there for three years. I got burned out of coaching.”
He then became an Assistant Principal at Livingston Junior High where he stayed one year and then became the Assistant Principal at Diboll High School for two years. All along the Slacks were building their family together and had a girl, Haylee and a boy, Jacob.
Then Amber became pregnant with Jaxson.
Mr. Slack said, “June of that summer, we went to go find out the sex of the baby. This is when we found out he was missing his tibia. We’re going to send you to Houston.”
He knew the job at the high school was too demanding, especially a small high school where he was expected to attend every event.
He said, “I interviewed to work at ACE. I was told Kathy might give me a call. I interviewed. I had to make the decision. I wanted time to be at home. Kathy would tell me ‘don’t worry about anything. I’m making sure everyone spends time with their family.’”
Coston Elementary was a perfect fit for Josh Slack. During the course of beginning a new position, they were tending to baby Jaxon.
“We stayed in Houston for a week to get his blood sugar regulated and do genetic testing. We had to amputate his leg last December. We made several trips to Dallas to Scottish Rite. That place is amazing. They fit the mold for his prosthetic. They had to make sure the fittings were right. We worked with physical therapists. It didn’t take him that long. Within about two months he was up walking. He just turned two, and he has to get it lengthened every two months. He is everywhere! He has gotten to the point where he does not want to take it off,” said Mr. Slack.
With all that is happening with his family, Mr. Slack is grateful for his work family.
He said, “We have a good staff that works well together. We’re always looking to improve – never satisfied. It’s a good school. I like it because I consider this my neighborhood as well.”
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Mr. Slack is most thankful for his family both at home and work, and his students.
He said, “My favorite part of the job is interacting with the kids. I like to see their progress.”
Mr. Slack, thank you for caring and demonstrating that care every day. We know you’ll be cheering on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day and hugging those sweet children of yours that are certainly life’s best blessing.