Thomas C. Tobin - Assistant Metro Editor/education, health and medicine

Assistant Metro Editor/education, health and medicine

No one is luckier than I am. As an assistant metro editor, I practice journalism every day with a talented team of writers who cover news about education, health and transportation. A mix of veterans and newer faces, they bring a passion to their work that makes me proud and helps keep our community better informed. I was born and raised in St. Louis, Mo., but Tampa Bay and I go way back. When I got here in the late 1980s, our state 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, legal issues and education. I have traveled across Florida as the Times state reporter and even delved into the world of Scientology. Each day I learn from people. Reach out and tell me something.

  1. The Pinellas County school system is offering driver education camps to hundreds of students like this one over the summer. The program will be held over two sessions at nine high school campuses across the county.
  2. The process for getting into a Pinellas County school choice program is in its final phase, the "acceptance period," which expires at 5 p.m. Feb. 21 for the 2020-21 academic year.
  3. Students in the Leadership Conservatory for the Arts at Tarpon Spring High participate in a Dance Technologies class. The conservatory is one of nearly 80 choice programs offered by the Pinellas County school system. Families who applied for a program in January must check back with the Student Reservation System from Feb. 10-21 to see if they got invited to one.
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  5. The new College and Career Center at Clearwater High is one of five such centers being opened this year by the Pinellas County school system. The centers offer on-campus assistance to students and families as they choose and apply to colleges. The other centers are at Boca Ciega, Gibbs, Largo and Pinellas Park high schools.
  6. In this image from a school district video, Tamra Ingrassia is seen at work in the kitchen at Belcher Elementary School. Ingrassia, a food service specialist, recently was named Pinellas County Schools 2019-20 Support Employee of the Year.
  7. In this 2016 photo, students use tablets and laptops during a sixth-grade advanced science class at Tyrone Middle School in St. Petersburg. The class was part of the Center for Innovation & Digital Learning, one of nearly 80 choice programs offered by the Pinellas school system. The choice application period for the 2020-21 school year starts today, Jan. 8, and continues through 5 p.m. Jan. 17.
  8. During the application period for school choice programs in Pinellas County, students can rank up to five programs in order of preference. If a program gets more applicants than it has seats available, a computer lottery is used to select which students receive invitations. Applications will be accepted today through 5 p.m. Jan. 17.
  9. This image from a Pinellas County kindergarten class is from a school district video offering advice on how to prepare children for their first school experience. Kindergarten registration for the 2020-21 school year starts Jan. 13. For more information, visit
  10. Hillsborough county parents can check the district's website for their child's bus route and their school's bus schedule. Visit, click the link under "Preparing for Back to School," then find the links for "Bus Schedule" and "Bus Availability." For more information, call (813) 982-5500. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
  11. Some schools have already closed for the holidays, but everyone should be off by the end of the day Dec. 20.
  12. USF St. Petersburg graduates await their turn to walk the stage during the May 2019 commencement at Mahaffey Theater. This year's fall commencement is set for Sunday, when some 450 USFSP graduates will be receiving degrees.
  13. Check for the latest breaking news and updates.
  14. One way to research options is through Medicare's online Plan Finder, available at
  15. 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.
  16. Students and parents tour Clearwater High during a Discovery Night in 2014. This year's Discovery Night is scheduled for Tuesday at the school, which offers a Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education program known as AICE and the International Culture and Commerce.
  17. Students at Dunedin Elementary welcomed teacher Stephanie Whitaker back to campus the morning after she was named Pinellas Teacher of the Year in February 2012. The 2019-20 winner will be announced Jan. 29 at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Ten finalists have been selected.
  18. 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.
  19. Students from Curlew Creek Elementary in Palm Harbor attend the school's Veterans Day program in 2016. The Pinellas County school system remains open for the holiday.
  20. Check for the latest breaking news and updates.
  21. Students make their way to new classrooms on March 18, 2019 at Melrose Elementary, which received $26 million in improvements recently. The school is home to the Center for Communications, Journalism & Multimedia Studies, which will welcome families for a Discovery Night at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
  22. School Search is a guide for families with children entering kindergarten, middle or high school who want to explore options beyond their zoned public school.
  23. In preparation for 2020-21, area schools are already hosting information fairs, open house events and tours. After that, it’s time to apply.
  24. Children and parents attend a Discovery Night last year at the Gulfport Elementary Montessori program. Discovery Nights, as well as upcoming Choice Fairs at three Pinellas County high schools, are where families can learn about nearly 80 special programs offered by the school system for the 2020-21 academic year.