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Florida PTA spotlights 2 Pinellas principals

The principals of East Lake High and Largo Middle win the group's first-ever awards.

By RITA FARLOW, Times Staff Writer
Published November 10, 2007


Two Pinellas County educators took top honors in the Florida Parent-Teacher Association's first-ever Outstanding Principal of the Year program.

East Lake High School principal Clayton Snare won in the high school category, and Largo Middle School principal Fred Ulrich was named the state's outstanding principal in the middle school category.

This is the first time the state parent-teacher association has presented the awards, which honor principals who are active with their PTAs, promote the mission of the organization and encourage PTA members to receive training and attend events.

The winners were announced at the organization's annual convention Nov. 3 at Daytona Beach.

Snare, 56, was nominated for his commitment to the school's parent-teacher-student association and for being a strong proponent of the school's LiveFree substance abuse program, which educates students about the dangers of drugs.

"A lot of school administrators close their eyes to those drug and alcohol challenges, but he has the courage to open his eyes and see them and realize that if it's a national epidemic, why wouldn't it be a problem in his own school?" said Wendy Sikora, president of East Lake High's PTSA.

The nominators also acknowledged Snare for helping the school community cope with the loss of junior Thomas McPhee-Barry, who died in an automobile accident this spring.

Sikora also praised Snare for the time and effort he devotes to his students and parents.

"He is a very visible, accessible principal," Sikora said. "He attends every sporting event that the school has. He's at the drama and music performances and, of course, all the PTSA events we have throughout the year."

Snare said it's essential to keep lines of communication open between parents and educators.

"I really believe in the PTSA and its mission," he said. "I think it advocates parental involvement in the schools, and I think there's a direct correlation between parental involvement and student success in all of our schools."

Snare started with the district as a physical education teacher in 1974 and has led East Lake since 2001.

Debbie Stotts, vice president of leadership for the Pinellas County Council of PTAs, said her organization was "proud and honored" to have two Pinellas principals chosen for the first-of-its-kind award by the state PTA. The organization received more than 60 nominations for the three categories.

As the former president of the Largo Middle PTA, Stotts was part of the group that nominated Ulrich for the award.

"Point blank, Mr. Ulrich is just the bomb-diggity," Stotts said.

The group nominated Ulrich, 58, for his continued support and involvement with the school's parent-teacher organization.

"He supports every one of our programs without hesitation. ...He wants us to be as successful as we do," Stotts and others wrote in the nomination.

Ulrich said he has grown as a principal through his involvement with parent-teacher associations over the years.

"I just try to support them in their efforts, because their efforts are noble," Ulrich said.

Ulrich, a 36-year veteran of Pinellas County schools, became principal at Largo in 2005.

In the elementary category, Kristine Dittmar from Kendale Elementary in Miami was honored.

Rita Farlow can be reached at or 727 445-4162.

[Last modified November 9, 2007, 23:17:19]

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