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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Alafia Elementary names new principal



TierneyjacksonVALRICO -- The Hillsborough School Board on Tuesday appointed a replacement for Alafia Elementary principal Ellyn Smith, who asked for a transfer last week after months of fighting parent complaints.

Lisa Tierney-Jackson, left, will assume the top job at the A-rated Valrico school when classes resume after winter break. She leaves the principal’s post at Cypress Creek Elementary, which she has held since 2005.

Tierney-Jackson started her career as a teacher at Alafia, which will become her third principal assignment. She also served as Wimauma Elementary principal from 2001 to 2005.

She could not be reached Tuesday, because she was out sick.

The appointment of a new principal is welcome news to many Alafia parents, who have criticized Smith for months. They blamed her leadership for high teacher turnover, low morale and concerns about student safety and behavior, among other problems.

“We’re just tired. We just want to move on,” said parent Amy Dreyer, adding that while she doesn’t know anything about the new principal, she is hopeful. “We just want to have our kids at a good school.”

The district recently conducted a school assessment at Alafia, which identified a “very stressful work environment.” It recommended steps to improve the atmosphere at the school.

But Smith ultimately decided to resign the post. Her husband, Ashley Smith, said that many at the school still support his wife but that she felt the situation had become an unfair distraction for students.

District officials stressed that the transfer was her decision.

For now, Smith will help fill in vacancies at the district offices, Elia said, including some created by a round of transfers set off by her departure.

The vacant principal post at Cypress Creek will be filled by Roy Moral, currently principal at Wimauma Elementary. Jeff Millman, a principal on special assignment to the textbook depository, will take over the post at Wimauma. All the changes take effect Jan. 5.

Elia said she expected to announce a permanent position for Smith at the School Board meeting in January.

Letitia Stein, Times Staff Writer


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:08am]


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