More than a dozen schools throughout Hillsborough County will start the year with new principals at the helm. Several of the administrators are at new schools, while others are new faces in familiar places. Seven schools in the South Shore and Brandon area have new principles for the 2009-10 academic year. Meet the administrators, whose names were provided by the school district, who will lead schools this year. Kevin Smetana and Traci Rader
Carl Green Brandon High
Students at Brandon High School might have some competition on the basketball court this year. Carl Green, the school's first-year principal, enjoys playing in pick-up games at the YMCA in his free time. He should fit in well at Brandon, where there is a high standard for athletics. "That's the way things are with me," Green said. "You get on a team. You really don't know everybody on the team, but if you play long enough you sort of understand each other." Green spent 24 years in the Navy. He started out enlisted, but retired as Lieutenant Commander. The 55-year-old administrator spent the past two years as principal at Middleton High. He worked at Brandon during the 2006-07 school year as an assistant principal for curriculum. Green said he intends to continue the tradition of achievement at Brandon. He said he wants to "make sure that whatever happens in the future, our kids have an opportunity … to be successful when they graduate."
Dave Brown Strawberry Crest High
A self proclaimed "homegrown product of Hillsborough County schools," Dave Brown has spent his summer preparing to open Strawberry Crest High School in Dover. Brown comes from Leto High, where he spent five years as an administrator. After serving on Freedom High's inaugural administrative staff, Brown knows a thing or two about opening a new high school. It can be tough for students to leave their previous schools, he said, but he has seen less reluctance this time. The school draws its student body from Plant City, Armwood and Durant high schools.
Brown also expressed excitement about working with students to start new traditions at Strawberry Crest.
"To be able to come here and blaze your own trail and be a part of the foundation — you don't get that opportunity very often," said Brown, 44.
Brown, a graduate of Robinson High School, also served as an assistant principal at East Bay High School and a teacher at Bloomingdale High School.
Catherine Lennard-Shields Stowers Elementary
The motto at Stowers Elementary School this fall is simple: "Expect Success." Catherine Lennard-Shields, the principal at the new school in Lithia, says her team can get the job done.
She's excited for the chance to help start something new. "The best part of opening a new school is that opportunity to build a community of learners, to create a school culture that is successful," said Lennard-Shields, who was an assistant principal when Symmes Elementary opened in 2001. Lennard-Shields, an East Bay High graduate, is also working on her doctorate degree at the University of South Florida. Juggling both responsibilities won't be an issue, she said. "I really love what I do," said Lennard-Shields, 39. "I love working with families and schools and talking about how we can make school successful, so it's easy to balance when you really like what you're doing." She came to Stowers from Mintz Elementary, where she was principal for five years.
Maribeth Franklin Barrington Middle
Opening new schools is becoming second nature for Maribeth Franklin. The Tampa native is at it for the third time, this time as principal at Barrington Middle School in Lithia. An assistant principal at Randall Middle School during its first year, Franklin welcomed the opportunity to come back to southeastern Hillsborough County. "I wanted to experience it again," said Franklin, 43. Franklin hasn't had much free time lately, but when she does step away from the job, she enjoys traveling and reading at the beach. Along with Stowers Elementary principal Catherine Lennard-Shields, Franklin appreciates that the two schools are adjoined. Both say it will help the transition period when students move from one school to the other. After a long summer of moving in, Franklin is ready for school to start. "I'm excited to be back in the community," she said. "We're excited for Aug. 25 to get here."
Anna Voida Beth Shields Middle
For five years, Anna Voida and principal Tom Scott made a dynamic team at Beth Shields Middle School. Voida, the second in command, can easily rattle off the school's accomplishments during their tenure. Among them was moving the school from a low C grade to a high C, falling just 10 points shy of a B, Voida said. Now, as she prepares to take the helm at Beth Shields, Voida is busy setting goals of her own. She plans to help the school earn a B or higher by focusing on its academic academy. Led by teachers, the program gives students an opportunity to cover material they did not grasp during class. "I'm super excited and ready for kids and teachers," Voida said. "Moving forward, my staff is dedicated. A lot of the teachers have been here all summer preparing." Voida graduated from the University of South Florida and became a teacher in Hillsborough County in 1980. Aside from working as a classroom teacher in exceptional education, Voida was also a staffing and compliance specialist in area one. In 1999, she was the Teacher of the Year at Roosevelt Elementary and Administrator of the Year for the Council of Exceptional Children in 2008.
Amy Zilbar Bailey Elementary
Amy Zilbar began her career in financial planning. But she soon realized her love was elementary education. She earned a master's degree in elementary education in 1987 and began teaching elementary school in Port Charlotte the following year. In 1989, Zilbar became a teacher at Broker Elementary School in Hillsborough County. She also taught at Hunter's Green Elementary School for four years. Zilbar became assistant principal at Limon Elementary in 1999 and was named principal at Buckhorn Elementary in 2005. "I've definitely been blessed," said Zilbar of her professional posts. Zilbar, 45, said she's excited about leading the faculty and staff at Bailey. "I am ecstatic," Zilbar said. "We had a meet-and-greet two months ago and the energy from the faculty and staff was phenomenal. We are ready to get started."
Marlou Bates Frost Elementary
While in high school, Marlou Bates volunteered to help a special needs student in a nearby middle school. Those memories are what shaped her career. "The other students made fun of this girl because she was different," said Bates, who remembers the girl's face clearly. "But when they (saw) me stand by her and help her, other kids became her friend." Bates, who graduated from the University of West Florida, Pensacola, in 1987 moved to Hillsborough County soon after finishing school. She spent time teaching emotionally handicapped children at Sulfur Springs and Kenly elementary schools in Tampa before getting married and relocating to South Carolina. Bates returned to Tampa in 1991 and then resumed teaching at Kenly. At the same time, she earned her master's degree in administrative leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Bates became the administrative resource teacher at Mort Elementary in Tampa and took on the role of the emotionally handicapped learning disability teacher. She also taught emotionally handicapped children at Clair Mel Elementary until she became Oak Park Elementary's assistant principal in 2002.