Thomas C. Tobin - Topics Editor

Topics Editor

I lead a talented team of journalists covering a diverse range of topics including education, religion, local nonprofits and the city of Clearwater. When I arrived in Tampa Bay in the mid-1980s from my hometown of St. Louis, Florida was just coming into its own as the economic, political and cultural powerhouse it is today. Since then I've covered local and state government, election issues, education and more. As the Times’ state reporter for two years, I got a chance to travel to a different corner of Florida every week. For a time, I delved into the world of Scientology. It’s been amazing to see our state and our region grow. I love to hear from readers. Give me a shout any time.

  1. Sarah Ann Painter, a fifth-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary in Clearwater, accepts the Florida Teacher of the Year award Thursday, July 22, 2021 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando. The award is given out each year by the Florida Department of Education.
  2. John Pack, 52, fishes from the Dunedin Causeway following Tropical Storm Elsa Wednesday.
  3. Students at Hernando County's Springstead High head into the school's stadium for a graduation ceremony during pre-pandemic times. This year's ceremony will be on June 19, one of several to be held in the county over the next few days.
  4. Students at Academy at the Lakes prepare for their graduation ceremony in 2019. The Pasco County school held its 2021 commencement on May 15.
  5. A student from the Northside Christian Class of 2013 waits to enter a commencement ceremony at Starkey Road Baptist Church in Seminole. Northside's Class of 2021 graduated May 28 in a ceremony at Suncoast Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
  6. After moving outdoors in 2020 because of the pandemic, most of the 2021 commencement ceremonies for Pinellas County public schools will return to Tropicana Field. Seen here is the Northeast HIgh class of 2018 waiting to ascend to the stage before getting their diplomas.
  7. Hillsborough County private schools join other schools in celebrating the 2021 graduation season.
  8. Newsome High graduates are seen just after a 2016 commencement at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. This year at the fairgrounds, guests and graduates at all commencement ceremonies for Hillsborough schools will be socially distanced and must wear masks. Each graduate will be allowed two guests.
  9. Tyler Rorah, 18, of Brooksville, receives a Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine shot from LPN Sonia Woods, right, while receiving his CDC (issued) Covid 10 Vaccination Card during his vaccination appointment on Monday, April 5, 2021, at Saint Leo University, which is serving as the host for the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution for East Pasco County.

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  10. People arrive for their vaccination appointments on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Pinellas County’s COVID-19 vaccine site, 1197 E Bay Drive in Largo. The site, which opened in February, is the county’s largest COVID-19 vaccine site.
  11. Doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are distributed for administration on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Greyound Spoke vaccination site at the Larry Sanders Sports Complex, 5855 S 78th St., in Tampa. Florida is the first state to have a “hub-and-spoke model” for the federal vaccine sites, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said Tuesday. The mini-sites are meant to get vaccines deeper into communities and reach people who don’t have transportation or who face other barriers to get doses at the main vaccine sites.
  12. Will Weatherford is former speaker of the Florida House and managing partner of Weatherford Capital.
  13. Nurse Joan Diehl prepares COVID-19 vaccinations Wednesday at the Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds in Plant City, one of four vaccine distribution sites in Hillsborough County. Because of high demand and a limited supply from the state, appointment slots filled up quickly.
  14. Boxes containing the COVID-19 vaccine are seen in a freezer at Tampa General Hospital Monday in Tampa. Tampa General Hospital was one of the first hospitals to receive the vaccine.
  15. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, watches as Ramon Docobo, Asst. Director of the Pharmacy at Tampa General Hospital, removes the COVID-19 vaccine from boxes Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Tampa, Fla.  (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
  16. The Medicare open enrollment period begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7 every year, giving millions of Americans a chance to adjust their coverage for the upcoming calendar year.
  17. The 138 Tampa Bay students selected as National Merit Semifinalists are among 16,000 high school seniors nationwide competing for some 7,600 scholarships worth a total of more than $30 million.
  18. Students move through the line toward the school entrance, on the first day of school for Hillsborough County students, at Hillsborough High School on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020 in Tampa.
  19. Students arrive by bus at a drop off circle on the first day of school before the start of classes at the entrance of Gulf High School on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in New Port Richey.
  20. Aug. 24, 2020• The Education Gradebook
    Students lock up bicycles at Gulf Middle School during the first day of school for Pasco County Schools on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in New Port Richey.
  21. Aug. 4, 2020• The Education Gradebook
    From left, teacher Tara Hernandez and students Angel Lozano and Dominic Cuahutenango wear masks and practice social distancing during a summer program this year at Redlands Christian Migrant Association Academy in Wimauma. Similar practices will be used when the regular school year starts in late August.
  22. Aug. 4, 2020• The Education Gradebook
    Sunlake High senior Anna Nelson cleaned out her locker on May 26 as the 2019-20 school year came to a close amid a shutdown due to the coronavirus crisis. A new year starts soon, with Tampa Bay area school districts having moved their start dates to late August as the virus continues to make scheduling difficult.
  23. Jul. 29, 2020• The Education Gradebook
    The 2020-21 school year will start Aug. 24, the Pinellas County School Board decided Tuesday evening, a move that buys the district more time to figure out the logistics of offering two kinds of schooling. The original start date was Aug. 12.