Friday, January 19, 2018
News Roundup

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 marketplace.hcsocharities.com 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 [email protected]

Comments
Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

WASHINGTON — A bitterly-divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being dep...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
The Daystarter: WWII veteran’s missing dog tags returned; can bus rapid transit solve Tampa Bay’s transit woes?; Lightning’s slide continues; tips for attending Gasparilla Children’s Parade

The Daystarter: WWII veteran’s missing dog tags returned; can bus rapid transit solve Tampa Bay’s transit woes?; Lightning’s slide continues; tips for attending Gasparilla Children’s Parade

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• Thankfully, the cold snap is over. Today’s temperature will rise into the 60s, according to 10Weather WTSP. And the weekend will be beautiful: Saturday and Sunday will both b...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

ST. PETERSBURG — Transportation planners are set to unveil a new transit vision for Tampa Bay leaders on Friday morning: Bus rapid transit.Also known as BRT, it has arisen as the leading option in an ongoing study to find the best regional transit pr...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

CLEARWATER — Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.So since launching his campaign for City Council Seat 5 against well-known incumbent Hoyt Hamilton, Funk said he has knocked on 2,000 doors to introduce himself. Before the March 13 ...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

CLEARWATER — By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows he’s now considered part of the old-guard. Born and raised in Clearwater, his family roots stretch back here more than 100 years. Hamilton, 59, spent nearly his ...
Published: 01/19/18
Lightning falls to Golden Knights

Lightning falls to Golden Knights

TAMPA — The door to the Lightning dressing room remained closed a little longer than usual Thursday night, and that wasn’t surprising.After the kind of performance displayed in its 4-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, this had players-only meeti...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 18

Thursday’s scoreboardGirls basketballNortheast 64, Largo 24Boys soccerIndian Rocks Chr. 3, Berkeley Prep 2Palm Harbor U. 7, Tarpon Springs 0Girls soccerCountryside 5, Pinellas Park 0Palm Harbor U. 5, Tarpon Springs 1...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Police presence at Martin Luther King Jr. Day after-party raises ire

Police presence at Martin Luther King Jr. Day after-party raises ire

ST. PETERSBURG — One after another, speakers stepped to the lectern at City Hall on Thursday and described the same image: police cruisers on every corner in Midtown, uniformed officers lined up across the roadway, souring what should have been a joy...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Tampa Bay record lows burst pipes, threaten berry and fish farms

Tampa Bay record lows burst pipes, threaten berry and fish farms

In winters past, when they ran the irrigation system at Parkesdale Farms to preserve the berry crop in a protective shell of ice, the icicles measured inches.But on Wednesday night, one of the coldest nights in years, the icicles hung more than a foo...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Will the third time be the charm for these Tampa Bay townhouses?

Will the third time be the charm for these Tampa Bay townhouses?

ST. PETERSBURG — In real estate circles, it would seem an odd match — 54 townhouses in an office park and a group of Realtors best known for selling luxury single-family homes in Snell Isle. Yet the Strickland Property Group is convinced it can do wh...
Updated: 11 hours ago