Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New teachers are welcomed to Hillsborough County

TAMPA — Sara Malinka and Autumn McCarty sat in the nosebleed seats of the Armwood High School auditorium as leaders of the nation's eighth-largest school district welcomed them into the fold.

The message Wednesday was the same through an hour of speeches: It's different in Hillsborough County. Teachers and administrators collaborate. New teachers get all the support they could possibly want.

It hit home with Malinka, 22; and McCarty, 45 and entering teaching after a career in retail. Both are assigned to high-poverty elementary schools.

"I love all the support they offer to new teachers," said Malinka, who will teach third grade at Mort Elementary.

The new teacher welcome is a tradition, held during an orientation week that this year attracted close to 1,000 new teachers.

Superintendent MaryEllen Elia, who will begin her 10th year on the job, assured the teachers, "you're not going to be alone."

Deputy superintendent Jeff Eakins urged them to get to know their students and their families. "They are a human being. You need to care for them," said Eakins who, with his wife, joined the district 25 years ago.

Deputy superintendent Cathy Valdes reminded them of the importance of humor. "If you're not having fun, your kids aren't having fun," she said.

School Board Chairwoman Carol Kurdell, who's been in office 22 years, delivered a more sobering message: "We don't get a second chance with children."

And, to a one, they all advised the teachers to join the union, some acknowledging that in other school districts that pitch would never happen. "We're not normal," Valdes said.

Critics of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association say the group is overly friendly to the administration. The union collaborated with the district on Evaluating Effective Teachers, a Gates-funded project that delivered massive changes in the way teachers are evaluated. The new teacher mentor program, which speakers praised Wednesday, also came out of that initiative.

The union, for its part, says more is accomplished when teachers are at the table than when they are kept at a distance.

"We are a solution-driven union," said president Jean Clements, who also has spent more than a decade in her job. "Your voice through our union is strong. And it's listened to."

School begins for 200,000 Hillsborough students Aug. 19. McCarty, the teacher in the audience, already got a taste of the job last year, when she spent three months at Foster Elementary.

The job is sometimes terrifying, she said, but that's because she cares about it. She switched careers in part to set an example for her 13-year-old daughter.

"I got sidelined," she said. "Now I get to do what I always wanted to do."

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or Follow @marlenesokol.

New teachers are welcomed to Hillsborough County 07/30/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 10:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  2. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  3. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  4. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101