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Trio of tyros takes the plunge

North of Tampa will follow the progress of three new teachers: a semipro basketball player from the Canary Islands, a woman who realized that money couldn't buy happiness, and a would-be bean counter.

By LOGAN D. MABE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 11, 2002

They probably don't know how hard the job is. They've thought about it for so long, this idea of becoming the person in front of the chalk board, the person who molds young minds. They've committed themselves to getting the education they need to educate your children. So, with credentials in hand and a dream in their hearts, these three individuals came to work on Wednesday as teachers.

This year, the Hillsborough County School District hired more than 900 new teachers, most of them fresh to the profession. North of Tampa will follow three of them throughout the school year, chronicling their experiences in one of the most difficult jobs out there.

[Times photo: Mike Pease]
PABLO GALLEGO ALVAREZ teaches physical education.
Pablo Gallego Alvarez is a 28-year-old native of Spain's Canary Islands. He is a physical education teacher at Bellamy Elementary in Town 'N Country. A former semiprofessional basketball player whose career was cut short by a knee injury, Gallego knew all along he wanted to become a teacher.

"Not just a teacher, but a PE teacher," Gallego said. "My PE teachers were the biggest influence on my life. My father left when I was 16. I had a stepfather, but it was not the same. All my coaches were like father figures to me, so I'm pretty much giving it back now to someone else."

[Times photo: Ken Helle]
ADRIANNE HALL teaches world history.
Adrianne Hall grew up in Riverview and is a product of the Hillsborough school system. The 22-year-old went to Tampa Bay Tech and the University of South Florida before being hired as a world history teacher at Sickles High School in Citrus Park.

"I've always wanted to be a teacher, but that's not where I started off in college," Hall said. Initially, she planned to study nursing, "but I think college gave me a dose of reality. It wasn't all about the money. I wanted to do something that I'd like for the rest of my life. Teaching is something I could do always and be happy. I just took the leap and said, "I'm going to do this."'

[Times photo: Mike Pease]
DAISY QUESTELL teaches business and computer technology.
Daisy Questell, 42, is not new to teaching. She served as an educator and principal at a postsecondary business school in Puerto Rico, where she was born.

"I was supposed to be an accountant, but I didn't like it," said Questell, a business and computer tech teacher at Liberty Middle School in Tampa Palms. "As a teacher, you can make a difference. I could be an accountant, working eight hours a day auditing. But I prefer to be in the classroom. I enjoy being in the classroom."

Jodi Lamb, the district's supervisor of staff development, puts on a weeklong orientation each year for new teachers. A former middle and high school teacher herself, Lamb knows well the rigors that lay ahead for the rookies.

"It's a hard job for a variety of reasons," Lamb said. "You're not typically prepared to deal with the variety of personalities and developmental levels you'll get with a classroom of students. You've got to figure out a way to convey your content that pulls all your kids along."

Lamb said she has met professional engineers who are becoming teachers wonder aloud, "How hard can it be to teach seventh-graders math?"

"You have no idea how hard it is to teach seventh-graders math," she said.

As Gallego, Hall and Questell teach, so will they learn.

-- Logan D. Mabe can be reached at 269-5304.

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