New principals take over top leadership role

Published July 28, 2006

A few new leaders will welcome students to Tampa area schools when the 2006-07 school year begins on Thursday. Students and parents can meet the new principals at area open houses a few days before school begins.

Graham Elementary

Sherry Orr

Age: 62

Home: Tarpon Springs

Family: Three adult children

Schooling: Bachelor's degree from Ohio State University; master's from University of Tampa.

Began career with Hillsborough County. Started teaching at Forrest Hills Elementary School, where she later became assistant principal. Her first principal position was at Egypt Lake Elementary School. She came to Graham in May.

Replaces: Charlotte Valenti, who is retiring in August.

Sligh Middle

Barbara Fillhart

Age: 41

Home: St. Petersburg

Family: Married; son will be 2 in October

Schooling: Bachelor's degree from Montclair State University; master's from University of South Florida.

Began career with Hillsborough County. Started in 1987 as a physical education and health teacher at Greco Middle School. She worked one year at Tomlin Middle School, then went on to be assistant principal of Ferrell Middle Magnet School for nearly 10 years until she came to Sligh in May. This is her first principal position.

Replaces: Juanita Underwood, now principal at Monroe Middle School.

B.T. Washington Elementary

Jason Pepe

Age: 37

Home: Brandon

Family: Married; two children ages 3 and 5

Schooling: Bachelor's from Binghamton University in New York; master's from Rutgers University and University of South Florida.

Began career with Hillsborough County. Started in 1995 teaching at Cypress Creek Elementary School. He also taught at Tampa Palms Elementary School and later was principal at Brooker Elementary School in Brandon.

REPLACES: Maria Tudela, now principal at Youth Services, a school for students at risk of dropping out of high school.

Jefferson High

Principal Lou Diaz was transferred to Alonso High School. His appointment was not named as of press time.

- Compiled by Erika Vidal