Susan Edgerley used to be all Westchase.
Whether the issue was a traffic roundabout on Linebaugh Avenue or a new east-west road, Edgerley did her homework and rallied the troops.
She was president of the now-defunct Upper Tampa Bay Alliance. She still has a seat on the Westchase Community Development District board of supervisors.
But being all Westchase holds a whole new meaning now that her daughter attends Robinson High School, about as far south as you can go without taking a swim in Tampa Bay.
As publicist for the school's Starlet dance team, Edgerley, 49, drums up support for a squad of girls who perform original floor routines while brandishing flags, sabers and rifles.
On March 27, she reports, they took second place at the Florida Federation of Color Guard Conference in Orlando, performing spectacularly to Requiem for a Dream despite a brief power outage in the gym.
She's also on the board of Robinson's International Baccalaureate's parents organization.
Even though Robinson is close to 20 miles away, she wants to make it as relevant to Westchase as any neighborhood school. "I'm trying to convince some of the parents that it (Robinson) is a part of the Westchase community because it is our IB school."
Such talk would have been unthinkable four years ago, when the Hillsborough County School District announced it was opening its third IB program in the back yard of MacDill Air Force Base and including Westchase in the boundaries.
Underenrolled Robinson stood to benefit from an influx of high-achieving students. But
Westchase families with IB-bound children had assumed their destination was the program at Hillsborough High School.
The Edgerleys were among them. Their daughter, Elizabeth, had transferred from Westchase's Davidsen Middle School to Williams Middle Magnet in the eighth grade so she would be on track for the Hillsborough program.
"Had we known (about the new boundaries), we would have stayed at Davidsen," Edgerley said.
After heated meetings with administrators, the school district offered the Robinson families direct bus routes from their neighborhoods, including one from Westchase Elementary.
Today, Edgerley estimates that 80 families in Westchase have signed on. Support group officers come from Town 'N Country and Countryway, contrary to the assumption that parents don't get involved in schools outside their neighborhoods.
Yes, the travel is hard — especially for the kids, who must somehow make time for college-level schoolwork. "They are on the bus at 6:20 and they don't even get home until a quarter to 4," Edgerley said.
It helps that Edgerley is from South Tampa, and still has family there. When there is a dinner at the school, Elizabeth can spend a couple of hours with her grandmother.
In fact, Edgerley's early resistance to Robinson probably had less to do with distance than the fact that it was, well, Robinson.
"I'm a Plant High School graduate," she said. "They were our rivals growing up." Academically, "I underestimated Robinson. I was going by my history, which was back in the '70s."
Now she's thrilled with the program, and her daughter. "She made this commitment, and kudos to her for knowing what she wanted and going after it."
Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 909-4602 or [email protected]