Thursday, February 22, 2018
Education

Top school volunteers named in Hernando School District

Three giving individuals have been named Outstanding School Volunteers for 2013-14 by the Hernando County School District.

Bryanna Leonard was selected in the youth category and Susan Opyoke in the adult category. Mary Verner is the senior adult honoree.

• • •

Bryanna, 17, is a Springstead High senior who volunteers at Explorer K-8 School.

"I help teachers, and I do a lot for Relay for Life (a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society)," Bryanna said. "They have summer school for autistic kids, and I volunteered there."

She has been involved at Explorer K-8 since she was a freshman. Her mother works at Explorer, and Bryanna said since she went there to meet her mother, she decided she might as well help out.

"I especially like the little kids," Bryanna said. "It's just fun, and it helps."

When she is with the children, she reads to them, plays with them and helps them with their lunches.

Interacting with special needs children has helped steer Bryanna to her intended career. She wants to work with them.

"That's why I want to do physical therapy," she said.

• • •

Opyoke, 42, can often be found at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics and has been there since her oldest son, seventh-grader Tyler Opyoke, now 12, was in kindergarten. She also has two girls, first-grader Hannah, 7, and fifth-grader Samantha, 10, at Challenger.

"I want to stay very involved with my children's education," she said.

Through the years, she said, she has seen the school's needs for funding and support.

"There's such a gap between what the state provides and what the school needs," Opyoke said.

The school is a beautiful facility, she observed, but "things are breaking now and need to be replaced."

She helps fill that gap.

While Sue Stoops was principal, Opyoke worked with her to establish a Facebook page.

"With the Facebook page, I opened up communication," she said.

Opyoke is also responsible for creating the Challenger/Community Partnership.

"She was able to spearhead raising $40,000 (plus) for our iMac lab," said current Challenger principal Michael Maine.

With the iMac lab in place, Opyoke is currently working with the help of Day Metal Products to introduce a marine biology lab.

• • •

Verner, 70, is such a beloved school volunteer that students and staffers refer to her as Grandma.

"They all want to be my adopted children and grandchildren," she said.

Verner worked for the school district for 35 years. Her retirement lasted one month, she said. "Then I came here. I work every day."

"Here" is Nature Coast Technical High School, where her daughter, internal account bookkeeper Ginger Kretzer, works. They work in the same area of the school.

Verner volunteers because she gets a lot out of it.

"It's rewarding, the love of the kids, the respect. I'm their problem solver. I'm their shoulder they can talk to," she said. "When you're around kids, you feel younger. I'm not a person to sit and do nothing. I have to be active. Kids help keep you young at heart, and I am definitely a people person."

 
Comments
How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

When students return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High for the first time next Tuesday, they will be greeted by additional counselors and law enforcement."There will be a plethora of counselors and services at the school," Broward Schools Superintende...
Published: 02/21/18
School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz appears to have been in line for a sizable inheritance. He’ll never get to spend it — except perhaps on defense attorneys.The amount could be enough to compel a judge to order him to hire a private lawyer, rather ...
Published: 02/21/18
Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

DADE CITY — A Pasco High School student was taken into custody Tuesday amid accusations of threatening violence against the school. The campus was not at risk, school district officials said. But they made clear they take each threat seriously, and t...
Published: 02/21/18
Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

LARGO — An Illinois teacher used confrontation. A campus safety monitor in Seattle attacked with pepper spray and physical force. An assistant football coach in Indiana shouted as he chased him into the woods.All were civilians who took down an activ...
Published: 02/20/18
Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

LARGO — Pinellas County School Board members are not happy about the prospect of having to hand over academic control at three struggling schools to a private company, and paying the firm up to $2 million on top of it. But that’s the course they must...
Published: 02/20/18
Lawsuit accuses FSU fraternity, national chapter of negligence in pledge’s death

Lawsuit accuses FSU fraternity, national chapter of negligence in pledge’s death

The parents of Andrew Coffey, the Florida State University student who died from alcohol poisoning after an apparent hazing episode last year, have sued the national Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and nine of its members for their son’s death.Coffey, who wa...
Published: 02/20/18
Upset by grade, Robinson High student threatens to shoot up campus, police say

Upset by grade, Robinson High student threatens to shoot up campus, police say

Schools nationwide are on heightened alert in the wake of last week’s fatal shootings in Broward County, and in the Tampa area, that means official warnings about social media posts and more calls for police action.Two Tampa boys, one 15 and one 16, ...
Published: 02/20/18
Schools, Tampa police warn against ‘misleading’ school security reports

Schools, Tampa police warn against ‘misleading’ school security reports

TAMPA — During a news conference Tuesday morning, Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan warned against misleading investigators with reports about school security."Spread the word," the school said in a t...
Published: 02/20/18
‘I would take a bullet for the kids’; Teachers struggle with life-and-death realities after school shooting

‘I would take a bullet for the kids’; Teachers struggle with life-and-death realities after school shooting

TAMARAC — The shooting was all over, but the emotional reckoning had just begun, and so on Saturday the teachers of Broward County in Florida packed their union hall to discuss what it meant to have become the nation’s human shields."Last night I tol...
Published: 02/20/18
Today: Senate to put its own stamp on Florida education proposals

Today: Senate to put its own stamp on Florida education proposals

The massive education measure known as House Bill 7055 has received plenty of attention during the legislative session, with its emphasis on decertifying teachers’ unions and using state-backed scholarship programs to steer kids away from public scho...
Published: 02/20/18