Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brandon High teacher leaves legacy of inspiring students

It was 2:30 in the morning when one of Heather Hall's former students got the news that she had passed away.

"I didn't know what to do," 16-year-old Rayquan Johnson said. "I couldn't sleep. I got up and I sat there and I cried."

The only thing he could think to do was to start a Facebook page to honor Mrs. Hall. When he got home from school the next day, more than 900 people had liked the page.

"Mrs. Hall was one of the most inspirational teachers of my life," Johnson said.

That opinion was widely shared at Brandon High School, where Mrs. Hall taught math and coached cheerleading. She was named the school's Teacher of the Year for the 2011-2012 academic year.

"When I was a freshman at Brandon, everyone was telling me, 'You've got to get in Mrs. Hall's class, she's the coolest teacher ever,' " said Johnson, who now attends Plant City High School.

Mrs. Hall passed away Nov. 13 from cancer. She was about a week shy of her 29th birthday.

She had been diagnosed with melanoma when she was a teenager but had been cancer-free for years. She was diagnosed with melanoma a second time in February 2011. Everyone fully expected her to beat it again, her sister Jennifer Moores said.

Mrs. Hall expected that too. She continued studying for her master's degree in education leadership at the University of South Florida, anticipating a long career in education.

But just a few weeks into this academic year, the cancer and the treatments left her too weak to teach. She did continue her duties as the head cheerleading coach at Brandon.

"She's done an awesome job as both a teacher and a coach," said Tibor Kovacs, the assistant principal for administration and athletic director at Brandon High. "She was an excellent teacher, and she'd go out of her way to help students who weren't getting it. And the cheerleading squad improved every year under her tutelage."

Mrs. Hall lived virtually her entire life in Plant City, and graduated from Plant City High School. She and her sister were raised by their mother, who was also a high school math teacher.

As a girl, Mrs. Hall had never aspired to a teaching career because she saw how hard her mother worked, Moores said. But as an adult, teaching became her passion.

"She never called her work 'work,' " said her best friend Ashley Maffei. "It was her life. She loved being around the kids, she could really connect with them and she loved helping them."

Besides her sister, Mrs. Hall is survived by her husband, Jarrett, her parents, Cheryl Bates-Switch, her father William Edward Bates, her stepfather, John Switch, and her grandparents Richard and Donna Kincade.

A 5K run to benefit Mrs. Hall's family is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 1 at Brandon High School. Registration is $15. For information, visit and click on the Heroes for Heather memorial 5K Run link.

Marty Clear writes life stories about area residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at

Brandon High teacher leaves legacy of inspiring students 11/17/12 [Last modified: Saturday, November 17, 2012 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bill Nelson knocks Rick Scott over Senate health bill


    Sen. Bill Nelson attacked Gov. Rick Scott, his likely 2018 rival, over today's trip to Washington.

  2. For starters: Rays at Pirates, with Hechavarria active, Robertson sent down


    UPDATE, 3:09: Rays have activated Hechavarria and sent down Robertson.

    Also, C Derek Norris was released; he had been DFA'd last week.

    The stellar view from the press box at PNC Park.
  3. LaVar Ball appears at WWE event, son LaMelo uses slur


    LOS ANGELES  -- LaVar Ball has brought his Big Baller Brand from the basketball court to the wrestling ring. 
    The outspoken father of NBA Draft No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball showed up with the newly-minted Los Angeles Laker and another son, 15-year-old son LaMelo, for a live segment on Monday's "WWE …

    LaVar Ball took off his shirt during a WWE broadcast.
  4. Facing defections, Senate GOP leaders delay health care vote


    WASHINGTON — In a bruising setback, Senate Republican leaders are delaying a vote on their prized health care bill until after the July 4 recess, forced to retreat by a GOP rebellion that left them lacking enough votes to even begin debating the legislation, two sources said Tuesday.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, talks with his chief of staff Sharon Soderstrom, right, and communications staff director Antonia Ferrier, left, as they walk to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017. Senate Republicans unveil a revised health care bill in hopes of securing support from wavering GOP lawmakers, including one who calls the drive to whip his party's bill through the Senate this week "a little offensive." [Associated Press]
  5. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    Former Florida Gov. and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their condo in downtown St. Petersburg on the market for $1.5 million. [Courtesy of Rhonda Sanderford]