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Another principal move for Pasco County schools

Hudson Elementary leader Dawn Scilex heads to Gulf Trace Elementary.
 
Hudson Elementary School principal Dawn Scilex works with students in the first week of classes 2016, after she took over the long-struggling school. [Times | 2016]
Hudson Elementary School principal Dawn Scilex works with students in the first week of classes 2016, after she took over the long-struggling school. [Times | 2016]
Published May 31, 2019|Updated May 31, 2019

The hard-charging leader of long-struggling Hudson Elementary School is headed to Gulf Trace Elementary in Holiday, where she’ll take over as the school’s second principal ever.

Dawn Scilex, who took over Hudson in 2016 to raise it from an F state grade, was named as Hope Schooler’s replacement on Friday — two days after students left for summer break.

Scilex spent long days over three years working to boost Hudson’s academic performance, but even more, to recharge the school’s climate. Hudson had fallen on hard times over years of poor outcomes, with little community or parent support.

Scilex brought with her a new staff and new attitude toward creating a positive culture. She instituted community meals at the school, found numerous business and civic partners who helped with ideas such as student uniforms, and served as cheerleader for an area that hadn’t had one for a long time.

When superintendent Kurt Browning suggested closing down Hudson earlier in the year, Scilex’s efforts proved a key point for the parents, teachers and others who fought the idea. They argued that even though the academic outcomes had been up and down, the social improvements at the school and surrounding area had been astounding, largely because of her leadership.

Recently, Scilex has been in and out of the school on personal leave. In accepting a move to Gulf Trace, she will be able to continue working with many students in need, but not face the stringent demands that Hudson has dealt with trying to stay out of the state’s accountability turnaround status that it overcame upon her arrival.

Scilex was not immediately available for comment. In a letter to her staff, she wrote that the decision to move was a difficult one.

She praised the school and staff for pushing past what they thought was possible and achieving success.

“This season has opened new doors and has prepared us for our next season,” Scilex wrote. “My season at Hudson has come to a close but a new season will open. ... No matter where this next season allows you to serve, know that you have the power to change lives and I have no doubt that’s what you will do.”

The Hudson Elementary principal job was advertised for internal candidates, with an anticipated starting date of June 7.

“We are looking for a current principal who wants to move there, or an aspiring principal who meets the needs of the school and is up to the challenge,” district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said.

The district also is seeking a new principal for Fivay High School, also in Hudson.