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Assistants making principal transition

They're awaiting School Board approval, but at least 12 will move to the top office.

Published July 21, 2007


At least 12 assistant principals are expected to join the ranks of Pinellas County principals when the academic year begins Aug. 21.

Also, three principals will transfer, one will become director of school operations for middle schools and two will be promoted to a new job of principal on district assignment.

Charlene Einsel will leave Lakeview Fundamental in St. Petersburg and Bob Poth will leave Cypress Woods Elementary in Palm Harbor to work under two associate superintendents who will help them prepare for districtwide senior leadership positions.

Poth, who was principal at Douglas L. Jamerson Jr. Elementary in St. Petersburg before moving to Cypress Woods in 2006, said he applied for the new job because he wanted to sharpen his administrative skills.

"I want to become more of a system thinker," Poth said.

Veteran educator and former Palm Harbor Middle School principal Ward Kennedy has been recommended for the position of director of school operations for middle schools.

The assignments are subject to approval by the School Board, which is scheduled to take up the matter at its July 31 meeting.

Most of this year's principal changes were generated by retirements, a difference from past years when superintendent Clayton Wilcox purposely moved administrators.

At the end of his first year with the district in 2005, Wilcox reassigned 15 principals, surprising several of them. He said at the time that he was trying to match administrators' strengths to school needs and create more productive school environments.

Last year, 19 schools got new principals. As is the case this year, most of the jobs went to assistant principals.

While turning to assistant principals to fill a school's top job is commonplace, it's not always a surefire way to identify the best person for the post, said Jade Moore, executive director of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association.

"When you have five or six assistant principals at a high school and three at a middle school, you may have one person who knows curriculum, one who knows discipline and one who knows extracurricular activities," Moore said. "The principal job often goes to the person who wants it the most."

By the time school opens this year, four more assistant principals could join the 12 already recommended for principal jobs. Wilcox has yet to name replacements for Einsel and Poth, nor has he said who will fill open principal spots at Gulf Beaches Elementary and Seminole High.

The starting salary for a first-year elementary principal is $61,545. First-year high school principals earn $77,529.

Donna Winchester can be reached at or 727 893-8413.

Fast Facts:


On the move

New principal assignments for the upcoming school year, subject to approval by the School Board:

- Wendy Bryan, assistant principal at Richard L. Sanders, replaces Patricia Huffman at Frontier Elementary

- Seymour M. Brown III, assistant principal at Lakewood Elementary, replaces Sandra O'Bryant at Maximo Elementary

- Sandra Cowley, assistant principal at Oldsmar Elementary, replaces Louise Crowder-Neri at North Ward Elementary

- Louise Crowder-Neri, principal at North Ward Elementary, replaces Robert Ammon at Southern Oak Elementary

- Michael Moss, assistant principal at Sawgrass Lake Elementary, replaces Kenneth Rigsby at Fuguitt Elementary

- Thea Saccasyn, assistant principal at Ponce de Leon Elementary, replaces Susan Daniels at Ponce de Leon

- Alicia Urbano, principal at Gulf Beaches Elementary, replaces Vivian Neumann at Pinellas Park Elementary

- Katherine Wickett, assistant principal at Cross Bayou Elementary, replaces Pam Moore at McMullen-Booth Elementary

- Monika Wolcott, assistant principal at Tarpon Elementary, replaces William Bailey at San Jose Elementary

- Victoria Hawkins, assistant principal at Oak Grove Middle, replaces Ward Kennedy at Palm Harbor Middle

- Thomas Lechner, assistant principal at Oak Grove Middle, replaces Judy LeBoeuf at Seminole Middle

- Valencia Walker, assistant principal at Osceola Middle, replaces Gregory Cardone at Meadowlawn Middle

- Robyn Witcher, assistant principal at Tarpon Middle, replaces Lori Matway at Pinellas Park Middle

- John Johnston, assistant principal at Largo High, replaces Denise Hart at Pinellas Park High

- Mary Sakoff, principal at Calvin A. Hunsinger School, replaces Susan Rea at Nina Harris Exceptional Student Education Center


[Last modified July 21, 2007, 00:37:55]

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