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Locals in the running to lead Hernando County's new Winding Waters K-8 school

BROOKSVILLE — The three finalists for the top job at Hernando County's newest school include two local administrators and a principal from Illinois.

The hopefuls for the principal post at Winding Waters K-8 are: Bev Chapin, principal at Eastside Elementary School; Jamie Young, assistant principal at Powell Middle; and Liz Bretz, principal at Sangamon County Learning Academy, an alternative school in Springfield, Ill.

Fourteen applicants met the minimum qualifications for the job, including six internal hopefuls.

Of the local candidates, Chapin has the most administrative experience in Hernando. She took her first assistant principal job at Deltona Elementary in 2001, moved up to principal in 2005, and was reassigned to Eastside in 2008. Chapin started in Hernando in 1996 as a teacher at Moton Elementary.

Young is in her third year at Powell. She previously served as assistant principal for two years at Eastside.

Bretz has been at her current post since 2007. The Sangamon County Learning Academy serves nontraditional and truant students in grades 8-12. The school aims to provide "individualized educational and supplemental services" so students can return to their home school or enroll in vocational programs, according to its website. The current enrollment is about 50.

Prior to that, Bretz served as an assistant principal for an elementary school in Riverton, Ill. She has about seven years of elementary school teaching experience.

The other internal hopefuls were Rob Dill, assistant principal at Challenger K-8 in Spring Hill and the lead administrator for Quest Academy for the Gifted; Lillian DiTucci, assistant principal at Explorer K-8 in Spring Hill; Troy LaBarbara, assistant principal at Central High in Brooksville; and Carmine Rufa, assistant principal at West Hernando Middle in Brooksville.

A committee of five current Hernando school principals scored the applicants using a rubric based on Florida Leadership Standards, considered letters of reference and a timed writing sample, then recommended the finalists for superintendent Bryan Blavatt to interview, said Laurie Pellito, coordinator of human resources.

Candidates answered questions in categories such as instructional leadership, human resources development, ethical leadership, decision-making strategies and community and stakeholder partnerships.

Blavatt is expected to make a decision after spring break, which continues through March 20.

"It's important to take the time to find a good match, someone who can grow with the school," Blavatt said.

Winding Waters is next door to Weeki Wachee High, on U.S. 19 about 5 miles north of State Road 50. The K-5 portion of the school will open in the fall, and those students will likely begin to fill in the middle school grades in 2012.

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or

Locals in the running to lead Hernando County's new Winding Waters K-8 school 03/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 11, 2011 6:31pm]
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