WESTCHASE — When school starts Monday, Westchase Elementary principal Joyce Wieland will be pulling double duty.
She'll welcome more than 1,000 students to the northwest Hillsborough campus with hugs and morning greetings. And in a new role, she'll oversee the county's exceptional student education program.
The promotion, announced during last week's School Board meeting, marks the fulfillment of a dream, said Wieland, who has been with the district since 1981.
"It was a career goal to be at the district level," she said.
It also means that Wieland will soon leave the school she has led since January 2005.
The district has not determined her last day or picked her successor, but the next principal of Westchase has big shoes to fill.
Wieland, 50, built a reputation as an administrator who was never too busy to return parents' phone calls, no matter the hour.
Westchase was an A school every year she was principal and among the state's top 100 elementaries.
And in January, it was a finalist for greenest school in America.
"We just hope that we'll attract someone as strong and as helpful and as fine a leader as she is," said Marcy Bunn, who sits on the school's PTA executive board and whose son will enter fifth grade on Monday.
For the interim, Wieland will conduct both jobs primarily from Westchase.
It's not the first time she has been asked to wear two hats. When Wieland left Dale Mabry Elementary for Westchase, she oversaw both schools for a time.
"Today's technology allows you to be able to communicate, to fax, to receive reports no matter where your location is," she said.
Wieland said she'll wait for students to settle into the new school year before announcing her promotion to them. But she already has an idea of what she'll say to the kids.
"One of the things I constantly teach is raise the bar, go higher than you possibly think you can go," she said.
"I've required my students to always reach for the highest possible and now I've shown them that you can continue to do it no matter how old you are."
Rodney Thrash can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 269-5303.