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Helping ‘exceptional’ kids, more Discovery Nights and other Pinellas education news

News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
Olivia Pruna, a student at Nina Harris Exceptional Student Education Center, practices with the school's drum line last year. The Pinellas County school district is asking parents and others for suggestions on ways to improve exceptional student education in the county. [DOUGLAS CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Nov. 15
Updated Nov. 15

District invites input on serving ‘exceptional’ students

The Pinellas County school system is asking families and other community members to share ideas for improving service to disabled and gifted students through exceptional student education programs, known as ESE. The school district’s ESE Advisory Committee is holding meetings throughout the county this year to give more people a chance to participate. The next meeting will be from 6 to 7:30 pm on Wednesday at Gibbs High, 850 34th St. S in St. Petersburg. Registration is required to accommodate everyone interested in attending. For more information or to register, contact Tracy McMannus at (727) 588-6062.

20 choice programs host Discovery Nights

Bay Point Middle teacher Lisa Walton shows Charlie Stacks, then 9 years old, a project during a Discovery Night at the school in 2013. Bay Point's Center for the Advancement of the Sciences and Technology is one of 20 programs opening their doors to prospective students and parents over the next week.

Twenty choice programs in 12 schools will hold Discovery Nights over the next week as the Pinellas County school system invites families to explore options for 2020-21. Most of the events start at 6 p.m., unless otherwise noted, and typically last one to two hours. Applications will be accepted online Jan. 8–17. More Discovery Nights are scheduled into mid-December. For a full list and more information about school choice options, visit or call the school district’s Student Assignment office at (727) 588–6210. Also consult the Times’ annual School Search guide at


Exploring Careers and Education in Leadership (ExCEL) - Largo High


Academy for Culinary Arts - Northeast High

Academy of Finance - Northeast High

Academy of Information Technology - Northeast High

Automotive Manufacturing Technology Center - Northeast High

Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education - Tarpon Springs High

Center for the Advancement of the Sciences and Technology - Bay Point Middle (5:30 p.m.)

Conservatory for the Arts (6:30 p.m.) - Sandy Lane Elementary

Jacobson Culinary Arts Academy - Tarpon Springs High

Leadership Conservatory for the Arts - Tarpon Springs High

Veterinary Science Academy - Tarpon Springs High


Academy of Engineering - Azalea Middle

Academy of Entertainment Arts - Dixie Hollins High

Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education - Dixie Hollins High

Center for Culinary Arts - Dixie Hollins High

Center for Education and Leadership - Seminole High

Madeira Beach Fundamental (K-8)


Clearwater Fundamental Middle

Montessori Academy - Gulfport Elementary

Pinellas County Center for the Arts (PCCA) - Gibbs High

School system names top support employees

Semifinalists in five categories are in the running to be named 2019-20 Support Employee of the Year for Pinellas County Schools. The group was selected from 135 nominees. The finalists and their categories are as follows. Classroom Support: Dave Bupp, Educational Alternative Services; Jeanette Rubin, Fairmount Park Elementary; and Nancy Correa-Torres, Sexton Elementary. Clerical: Charla Pinnow, Gus Starvos Institute; Dana Ziecheck, San Jose Elementary; and Marie Jantschek, Osceola Fundamental High. Food Service: Regina Dixon, Gibbs High; Stacey Kopita, Orange Grove Elementary; and Tamra Ingrassia, Belcher Elementary. Maintenance/Safety/Health/Transportation: Tina Rosato, Nina Harris ESE Center; Pamela Layliev, Leila Davis Elementary; and Bruce Green, John Hopkins Middle. Plant Operations: Jessie Scott, Richard L. Sanders School; Terry LaCotts, Westgate Elementary; and John Randolph, Anona Elementary. A winner in each category will be announced Nov. 20. An overall winner, to be announced Jan. 10, will be selected from the five category finalists.

Shakespeare on tap at Eckerd College

Over four days, Eckerd College will stage plays by William Shakespeare at Bininger Theater on campus. “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” is described as “an energetic, whimsical look at the works of The Bard.” Performances, directed by Eckerd theater professor Gavin Hawk, are set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, through Friday, Nov. 22, and at 2 p.m. Nov. 23. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for nonstudent Eckerd community members and free for students. The Eckerd campus is at 4200 54th Ave. S, St. Petersburg.

Elementary school lunches

Monday: Chicken tender basket with crispy fries and roll, Max Cheese Sticks, fruit and yogurt plate, deli meat and cheese sandwich, marinara cup, green beans, fresh veggie dippers with yellow squash.

Tuesday: Teriyaki beef dippers with rice and chow mein noodles, grilled cheese, chicken caesar salad, Jamwich Kit, tomato soup, romaine side salad.

Wednesday: Chicken fajita bowl, pasta and meat sauce, yogurt and fruit parfait, ham and cheese croissant, spinach or collard greens, sliced cucumbers.

Thursday: Thanksgiving meal (turkey and all the fixings), corn dog or hot dog, Apple-A-Day Salad, chicken caesar wrap, sweet potatoes, mixed side salad, Gobbler Cookie with every full meal.

Friday: Pizza variety, fish nuggets with roll, chef salad, turkey and cheese hoagie or sandwich, green peas, fresh veggie dippers with yellow squash.


  1. Transgender student Drew Adams speaks with reporters outside of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Adam's fight over school restrooms came before a federal appeals court Thursday, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High in Ponte Vedra, Fla., won a lower court ruling last year ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. The district has since appealed. RON HARRIS  |  AP
    The closely watched case of Drew Adams, once a high school student in Florida, is heard by a three-judge panel in Atlanta.
  2. Stephen Ailing, 54, faces a battery charge. Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    Stephen Ailing, who faces a battery charge, teaches music at Sunray Elementary in Holiday.
  3. Representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco, on the left, present their latest pay request to the district's bargaining team during talks on Oct. 24, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Teachers have yet to reach a deal on their contract.
  4. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. It has met just once more since then. The Florida Channel
    Lawmakers have yet to set an aggressive agenda beyond talk of teacher pay as the 2020 legislative session nears.
  5. FILE - In a Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 file photo, transgender teen Drew Adams, left, leaves the U. S. Courthouse with his mother Erica Adams Kasper after the first day of his trial about bathroom rights at Nease High School, in Jacksonville, Fla. The transgender student's fight over school bathrooms comes before a federal appeals court Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Drew Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, won a lower court ruling in 2018 ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP, File) WILL DICKEY  |  AP
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. A bird's-eye view of USF St. Petersburg, which this week announced a new member of the Campus Board. She is Melissa Seixas, a Duke Energy executive who earned her master's degree at USF.
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  7. An LGBTQ Pride march participant walks under a large rainbow flag in New York earlier this year. School Board policy regarding LGBTQ students has been a frequent topic of discussion in recent months in Pasco County. CRAIG RUTTLE  |  AP
    The discourse is more civil and respectful, two weeks after a session that many deemed hate-filled and vile.
  8. The Florida Legislature so far has has left Gov. Ron DeSantis to set most education policy priorities for 2020.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  9. Florida Senator Tom Lee, R- Thonotosassa. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times] SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES
    The Senate Education Committee will tackle some high-profile issues in its final meeting before session.
  10. A police officer confronted an armed student at a Wisconsin high school Tuesday morning and both were wounded, police said. Facebook
    The shooting follows a similar attack at Waukesha South High School in suburban Milwaukee on Monday morning.