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. Three Tampa Bay area school boards swore in new members and selected chairpersons to lead them for the next year during special meetings on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. The new chairpersons are, from left: Lisa Cane, Pinellas County; Nadia Combs, Hillsborough County and Megan Harding, Pasco County.
  2. Students from Hillsborough High's Science Buddies service club work with kids at Seminole Elementary to see how many pennies they can support with aluminum foil boats on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022.
  3. A view of Pinellas County school district headquarters in Largo on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. The district will close Thursday because of Tropical Storm Nicole.
  4. Hillsborough County school district headquarters in downtown Tampa.
  5. Hillsborough County Public School teachers, with union president Rob Kriete, line up to address the School Board on Nov. 1, 2022.
  6. An appeals court found Friday that Al Hernandez, left, can remain on the Nov. 8 ballot for the District 1 Pasco County School Board seat after a lawsuit by candidate Steve Meisman, center. Meisman lost in the August primary. Hernandez now faces James Washington, right.
  7. Respondents to a survey about school use in Hillsborough County say McLane Middle School has a population that lives too far away from the Brandon campus.
  8. A mural at the entrance to James Elementary School in Tampa. The school is one of 11 that this year came off the Hillsborough County school district's list of schools rated D or F by the state. But a different 11 schools joined the list.
  9. La directora Miriam Tirado recibe un choca esos cinco de uno de sus alumnos de kínder al concluir un curso de educación física. clase el 13 de abril de 2021 en Henderson Hammock Charter School en Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD ]
  10. Glennis Perez, left, principal of Village of Excellence Academy, and Lakeisha Maddox, principal of Village of Excellence Middle School, appear before the Hillsborough County School Board on Oct. 25, 2022, to outline the schools' plans for improvement.
  11. Students at Forest Hill Elementary in Tampa complete worksheets after reading a chapter from the book Esperanza Rising. Reading and math scores declined in Florida and across the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. But officials say the numbers also show that Florida did better than other states in weathering the pandemic.
  12. Teacher Lindsay Blanc was suspended by the Hillsborough County school district two years later after she was accused of duct-taping a kindergartener over the eyes. She later worked for charter schools.
  13. The Chamberlain High Legacy Alliance displayed the school's new mascot on its Facebook page. Chamberlain teams will now be known as the Storm instead of the Chiefs.
  14. Kindergarteners transition between classrooms at Southshore Charter Academy on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Riverview.
  15. Principal Miriam Tirado receives a high five from one of her kindergarteners at the conclusion of a P.E. class on April 13, 2021, at Henderson Hammock Charter School in Tampa.
  16. These and other brochures on mental health topics will soon be available in Hillsborough County middle and high schools as officials respond to alarming numbers of students in need of help.
  17. Shelters like this one at Durant High in preparation for Hurricane Ian caused many schools to close, leading to two missed days in Hillsborough County. The school district will make up for them by canceling one day off for students and turning several early-release days into full days.
  18. A school bus passes Hillsborough High in Hillsborough County, where district officials are considering redrawing school attendance boundaries. A consultant could have a proposal ready as early as December, and changes could take effect next school year.
  19. Beulah Stang, a sixth-grade math teacher at John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg, carries a pillow and suitcase into the Pinellas County special needs shelter at the school on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 in St. Petersburg. The shelter had a capacity of over 700 people.
  20. Alejandro Riddick, 18, who recently moved from Philadelphia to Plant City with his family, carries a mattress inside one of Hillsborough County’s pet-friendly shelters in preparation for Hurricane Ian at Durant High in Plant City on Tuesday, September 27, 2022.
  21. As the hurricane approaches, ”have a plan and review that plan with your children,” says Michael Kelleher, supervisor of clinical care for the Hillsborough County School District. “Let them know how you’re keeping your family safe.”
  22. Families settled into their spots in the shelter at John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg as Hurricane Irma approached in 2017.
  23. Social conservatives objected to lessons that Hillsborough school district leaders said were developed in accordance with state law and that emphasize abstinence to prevent pregnancy and disease.

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