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Marlene Sokol - Education reporter

Education reporter

I’ve been a journalist since 1983 at newspapers all over Florida. After 15 years as an editor in the Tampa suburbs I was assigned to cover the Hillsborough public school system, the same one that gave my two children a great education. That last part didn't happen by itself. I was an active volunteer and believe schools should accommodate parents' busy schedules. I’m not a fan of the 3 p.m. parent conference or 10 a.m. PTA meeting! On weekends I play tennis and volunteer at a youth soccer program. Call or email me with your tips about the schools. I use Facebook for family and Twitter for self-promotion. But I prefer my conversations one-on-one.

  1. Jan. 23• The Education Gradebook
    Sumner High School in Balm, shown here when it was still under construction last spring, was busy with COVID-19 this week. Eight cases have been reported since Jan. 16, making 79 so far for the school year.
  2. Laura Meehan, left, and Sarah Painter were honored Thursday as Teachers of the Year for Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, respectively.
  3. Members of the Tarpon Springs Jazz Ensemble from Tarpon Springs High entertained the crowd last January at Mahaffey Theater as Pinellas County announced its Teacher of the Year. This year's event will be virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  4. Seniors Debbie Vanderkuip and her husband Rick Vanderkuip, of Niagra Falls, Canada, right, check in with RN Trina Owens, center, at the Clearwater Health Department, 310 N. Myrtle Ave., on Tuesday, Jan. 5. 2021, in Clearwater, where they were seeking appointments to receive the first of two shots containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine as part of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County's distribution plan.
  5. Jan. 16• The Education Gradebook
    School COVID-19 cases are on the rise in southeast Hillsborough County. This past week saw 11 cases at Wimauma Elementary School and 12 at Sumner High.
  6. Waterset Charter School in Apollo Beach serves more than 1,100 students. More than 30,000 Hillsborough County students are learning at charter schools, which use public money but are operated outside the school system.
  7. Rob Nelson is the new principal of Sumner High School. Denise Wheatley has been promoted to principal of Roosevelt Elementary.
  8. Hillsborough County school superintendent Addison Davis has proposed drastic steps to tame the district's budget.
  9. Jan. 9• The Education Gradebook
    Ellen Cipriani, school crossing guard of the year for the state, poses for a portrait outside of Riverview Elementary on Sept. 16.
  10. Henry "Shake" Washington, left, defeated Tamara Shamburger, right, in her re-election bid for a seat on the Hillsborough County School Board. Shamburger challenged Washington's qualifications to run but lost.
  11. Josh King, 18, celebrates during one of several outdoor graduation ceremonies held in July at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. The Pinellas County school district chose the venue for all of its 2020 graduations because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  12. Supporters of President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally Wednesday in Washington, D.C., as Congress met to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win in November.
  13. Pinellas County School Board chairwoman Carol Cook at a recent meeting. More than 500 coronavirus cases were reported over the two-week winter break among Pinellas students and staff.
  14. Jan. 4• The Education Gradebook
    Tampa  Heights Elementary School is reopening on Jan. 4. The rebuilt school retained many design features from the original school, which burned in a 2017 fire.
  15. Rosemary Caldwell Collins, shown in this Facebook photo, died Dec. 22. She taught music at Clearwater High and was director of music at Trinity Presbyterian Church.
  16. Attorneys for the security services company GardaWorld are seeking records from a Tampa Bay Times reporter.
  17. Donnie Dewey, a business executive and Marine Corps vet creates high quality pine homework desks for children who are distance-learning, and do not have an appropriate place to work in their homes. He assembles the desks on his time off from his day job and is pictured working on a desk in his home workshop on Sunday December 6, 2020 Lithia.
  18. Dec. 19, 2020• The Education Gradebook
    Plant High School in South Tampa has more known COVID-19 cases than any other in the area for the current school year, with 84.
  19. Hillsborough County schools superintendent Addison Davis, left, at a recent meeting to update principals on staffing changes. This week, he wrote a letter outlining the district's continuing budget challenges.
  20. Students arrive at Burnett Middle School in Seffner on Aug. 31, when Hillsborough County reopened campuses after starting the school year online for the first week. A lawsuit challenging the district's mask-wearing rule has been dismissed.
  21. Student Alia Kench, left, speaks as her mother, Kari Turner, looks on during a Pinellas County School Board meeting Nov. 10 in Largo. In a video posted on Facebook by Sam Stefano, Kench is seen screaming for her mother who is being detained by police. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has been asked to investigate the incident, the school district said Tuesday.
  22. Hillsborough County School Board member Henry "Shake" Washington waves to the audience after he was sworn in Nov. 17. Standing next to him are his daughter, Jamia Washington, and his wife, Cheryl Washington.
  23. Dec. 12, 2020• The Education Gradebook
    Football fans stream into a Sept. 11 football game in St. Petersburg between Wiregrass Ranch and St. Petersburg high schools. Both schools have reported coronavirus cases in double-digits.