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  1. The Education Gradebook

Three farewells, 120 years of experience

Published May 15, 2016

Editor's note: This is one of three stories about a Hillsborough County Schools employee retiring this year. We salute all the teachers, administrators and support personnel bringing an end to their careers in 2016.

GIBSONTON — As a child, Pennye Fraction used to play school with her mom and brother pretending to be students.

"I guess I was kind of a nerd," Fraction said. "So I think I always had the aspiration to teach and I enjoyed learning. I wanted to share that."

To no surprise to her family, she arrived at East Bay High School in 1979, fresh out of the University of South Florida and eager to accept the challenges of teaching her "children" to love history and social studies.

Now the end of the school year brings bittersweet emotions. After 37 years of teaching, Fraction will say goodbye to East Bay High School.

Nicknamed "Frac-Attack" because of her intensity and passion for everything she does, Fraction says she is a bit of an actress in the classroom. She makes her lessons come alive and engages the students with her enthusiasm.

"I want to make sure that the students know that I am here to support them but I also want to make sure they get a good education," Fraction said. "They have a lot of outside influences that are keeping them from learning or even showing up. I try to stay on top of the different problems they are having at home and let them know they can go on despite the circumstances they are living in."

With this kind of affection and individual attention of each of her "children," it's no wonder that Fraction has been a perennial favorite of students and faculty.

When asked to comment on their colleague, fellow teachers were eager to sing Fraction's praises. Sarah Haueter, department chair of Fine Arts and World Languages said, "She is one of those 'old school' teachers who is 150 percent about the 'children.' "

"She is a really hardworking lady and her enthusiasm and love for the profession is genuine."

Stacie Cleary, assistant principal for student affairs, said Fraction changed the lives of students.

"She adopted every student that ever graced her room, she changed students' lives," Cleary said. "She is what every teacher aspires to be. She will be sorely missed."

A longtime associate of Fraction's in the social studies department, Denise Shawyer echoed the accolades for Fraction.

"I have never known her to be anything but the epitome of professionalism," Shawyer said. "During the year, she is nurturing her freshman, and motivating her seniors to graduation — all with the enthusiasm of a first year teacher."

Clearly, Fraction has become a bit of an institution at East Bay. She has seen it grow from a country school of just a few hundred students to a massive institution serving some 2,300 children. When she started her teaching career in 1979, the only way to reach the school was by taking either U.S. 41 or U.S. 301. I-75 didn't even reach this far south.

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Her love for the school and its broad spectrum of students has endeared her to so many.

The future holds many new adventures for Fraction. She plans to spend more time with her mother, who she says will become her traveling companion. They are planning cruises to Alaska and the Caribbean and she hopes eventually to get to Paris.

Retirement will be a period of adjustment for someone who has been so focused on her life of teaching, but with her zest for life and indomitable attitude, she plans to have a happy ending.

Contact Kathy Straub at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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