From the principals' office

Published June 22, 2007

Three elementary schools in eastern Hillsborough County will welcome new principals this fall. The new leaders of Schmidt, Nelson and Ippolito, who were appointed last week, give details about their vision for the upcoming school year:

Cindy Guy, Nelson Elementary, Dover

Guy, 48, began teaching in 1988 at Apollo Beach Elementary School. Her boss at the time, Judy Bowen, said she saw principal potential in Guy. Guy followed Bowen's advice and got a master's degree in elementary leadership from Saint Leo University in 2002.

When Nelson opened in 2003, Guy became its assistant principal. She worked for four years alongside her former boss, Bowen, who was then Nelson's principal. Bowen retired at the end of the 2006-07 school year.

"It's the biggest honor ever, " said Guy. "Bowen left some big shoes to fill."

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?: Guy said Nelson is enhancing its reading instruction to encourage more active participation from students. Students will track their thoughts as they read and participate in discussions about reading assignments.

Do you see any challenges ahead?: Nelson's student enrollment has nearly doubled since it opened. New students show up almost every day to enroll for the 2007-08 school year. Construction begins next year on a new wing that will house 16 classrooms.

What issues will you face next year?: The whole district will work to adapt to the new class-size reduction act, Guy said.

What is your vision for the school?: At Nelson, special education students are assigned to regular classrooms. They participate fully in all the classroom activities and curriculum. Nelson must recognize that every student is a person, not a label, according to Guy.

What was your elementary school principal like?: Guy went to Cahoon Elementary in Tampa. Her principal, Mr. Stokes, wore a suit everyday. He also kept a paddle in his office and wasn't afraid to use it. Guy looked forward to Mr. Stokes' classroom visits. She said she never fell victim to the paddle.

Susan Brill, Ippolito Elementary, Riverview

Brill, 58, began her Hillsborough County teaching career at Apollo Beach Elementary School in 1986. She has since taught at Hunter's Green and Walden Lake elementary schools. She also served as an administrative resource teacher at Riverview's Symmes Elementary School. Brill served as the school's assistant principal when Ippolito first opened.

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?: Ippolito is expanding its student character development program. Brill hopes to involve the whole school, from administrators to bus drivers, in the lessons and activities.

What challenges are ahead?: Many of the students who attend Ippolito live far from the school. Brill wants to host meetings at apartment complexes and other convenient sites in the school's attendance area. She hopes this will make it easier for parents to be involved.

What issues will you face next year?: The class-size reduction act will be a big issue. Brill is working to find qualified teachers and more classroom space.

What was your elementary school principal like?: Brill attended parochial school in Ohio. The school was very strict and the nuns practiced corporal punishment. "There are definitely other ways to reach children, " Brill said.

Cynthia Malone, Schmidt Elementary, Brandon

Malone, 51, taught for 11 years at Gibsonton Elementary School, served as principal at Mango Elementary School, and most recently worked as an elementary supervisor generalist. Before the promotion to elementary supervisor, Malone was the assistant principal when Schmidt opened. Of the new position, Malone says, "I feel like I am going back home."

What are you looking forward to in the coming year?: "We have a lot of traditions to carry on, " Malone said. The school's courtyard is home to a large ship's bell. Each year, the kindergarten class rings the bell to mark the beginning of their school career. The fifth grade class rings it at the end before they graduate to middle school."

Do you see any challenges ahead?: Malone said the daily tasks and paperwork associated with being a principal are challenging. But she says, "I am just so excited that I don't see it as a challenge, more of an adventure."

What issues will you face in the upcoming year?: Schmidt Elementary will work to integrate FCAT lessons into all aspects of the curriculum, Malone said.

Science will be a new component of the FCAT next year. Instead of just reading about science, Malone wants her students to participate in experiments and write nonfiction and fiction stories about their lessons.

What is your vision for the school?: Malone wants to make sure each child has every chance to become a successful learner.

What was your elementary principal like?: Malone said she moved around too much as a child to remember her elementary principal.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at 661-2439 or htravis@sptimes.com.