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Principal focuses on futures

Published May 11, 2007


JoAnn Redden grew up in the College Hill public housing complex, "but I didn't have that project mentality, " she said.

Instead of becoming a product of her environment, she became a product of local schools.

She went to College Hill Elementary, Oak Grove Seventh Grade Center, Middleton Junior High and Tampa Bay Tech.

Redden went on to earn an associate's degree from Hillsborough Community College, a bachelor's from the University of South Florida and specialist, master's and doctorate-level degrees in education from Nova Southeastern University.

Now 48, the widowed mother of two is the newly appointed principal of Van Buren Middle School, 8715 N 22nd St. She leaves the same position at Oak Grove Elementary.

"Your past does not have to predict your future, " Redden said of her success. "Failure is not an option, and this is what I try to instill in my kids."

She is a "true believer that, if given the opportunity, the time, the patience and the care, all kids can learn."

That was her focus at Oak Grove and will continue to be her focus at Van Buren.

Redden's biological children, daughters Stacy and Tracy Redden, mirror their mother's mantra. Stacy, 24, is a USF grad working in the finance department at Coca-Cola, and Tracy, 20, is a premed student at USF.

In some ways, leaving Oak Grove is like leaving family.

She opened the school as principal six years ago. She even ordered the furniture.

"It's very hard to leave, " Redden said. "When you spend eight, nine hours here - sometimes 10 - and you work with people, they become a part of you ... but I know I'm leaving this school in great shape."

She's excited about making the transition to middle school.

The warm reception from Van Buren staff members and students makes the move more comfortable, Redden said.

"And knowing there are people you can depend on to make change - to continue to make change, " she said, "makes all the difference."

Amber Mobley can be reached at or 813 269-5311.

"Your past does not have to predict your future. Failure is not an option, and this is what I try to instill in my kids."



Fast Facts:


JoAnn Redden

If not education, what career would you have chosen?: Law

"I was headed to law school after getting my AA degree in criminal justice, " said Redden, who started a career in education in order to spend more time raising her family.

Goals for Van Buren: "To build upon the successes they had last year. They made a B (on the state report card).

"I want to build a strong sense of community, and I want to do some team building with the faculty."

Continue improving students' reading and math skills, "especially struggling students who are not meeting the benchmark."

Van Buren is Redden's first middle school assignment. She has previously worked at four elementary schools. Redden taught at Seminole and Temple Terrace elementary schools. She was the assistant principal at Clair Mel and then became principal at Oak Grove.


[Last modified May 10, 2007, 07:27:10]

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