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Principal gets ready for new view
She will leave Moon Lake Elementary for Veterans Elementary in Wesley Chapel.
By Michele Miller, Times Staff Writer
Published February 11, 2008
Moon Lake principal Donna Busby will miss the many grand oaks on campus when she moves to open Veterans Elementary in Wesley Chapel.
[Michele Miller | Times]
NEW PORT RICHEY - In between her regular duties as the principal at Moon Lake Elementary and keeping up with construction progress, conducting job interviews and all that goes with opening a new school, Donna Busby is trying to take it all in.
She's fond of the staff and students but will soon be saying goodbye to them and the unique, natural setting of the Moon Lake campus that's dotted with grand old oak trees and colorful azalea bushes.
"The view is really beautiful," Busby said as she recently gazed out her office window. "Especially when the azaleas are in full bloom."
These are the kind of pictures you try to keep in your mind when you're getting ready to move on.
That's just what Busby will be doing in March, after the FCAT is over. Busby will then take on the full-time duties as principal at Veterans Elementary School in Wesley Chapel.
That school, which is set to open for the new school year in August, has a few oaks on campus, Busby said. "But not like these."
"I will miss this school," she said. "I know the parents here. I know almost all the kids on campus. I'll miss them all. But I'm excited about the challenge to open a new school. It's a great opportunity to create something from the ground up."
Moon Lake Elementary has been familiar and comfortable territory for Busby, who has served as principal for the past six years - "this time."
Busby also worked as an assistant principal there from 1990 to 1992, but left when her husband, David, pursued a job opportunity in Texas.
For four years after that, Busby worked in administration at Sugarmill Elementary in Sugarland, Texas. "It was a very sweet place to be," she said with a chuckle. Then the two moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., where Busby also worked in administration.
When her husband became a business consultant working out of their home, he decided it was her turn.
"He asked me, 'Where would you want to live?' " Busby said. "I said Pasco County."
"I had been a teacher here. A reading specialist and an assistant principal. My son had gone to school here. My philosophy matched the district's philosophy and that's an important thing. And this is a big, family-type place - I had a lot of friends here."
A one-year stint as assistant principal at Marlowe Elementary preceded her landing back at Moon Lake.
Throughout her tenure, Busby tried to re-create the same kind of nurturing atmosphere she remembered from the classrooms she sat in as a youngster growing up in southern Illinois.
"I always enjoyed going to school. I had some great teachers," she said, recalling those who taught her best. "Miss Murrah, my first-grade teacher, and my fifth-grade teacher, Miss Kemper."
It's likely Busby will leave the same kind of lasting impression on many at Moon Lake Elementary.
Cathy Swartz, who works with special needs students as an inclusion facilitator at Moon Lake, recently polled staff members and asked them to write one thing down that they appreciate about their principal.
Some of the things listed:
She has such a positive attitude.
She notices when you accomplish something.
She works as hard as we do.
She's fair and honest even when it's not what you want to hear.
She has an open-door policy and is always willing to listen.
She's open to new ideas and challenges.
She isn't afraid to make tough decisions.
Everything is about what's best for the kids - the kids come first.
She empowers teachers to try new things and help with the decisions.
She's professional but approachable.
She's a problem solver.
She's created a positive atmosphere of congeniality.
She maintains her focus in the face of difficult situations.
"One of the things I can really say about Donna with all honesty is that she has extremely high expectations of her students and extremely high expectations of her teachers," said first-grade teacher Melissa Richarz. "She expects a lot and she gets a lot."
"The new school is very, very fortunate to get her," Swartz said. "Her very favorite saying is, 'We've got work to do.' She says that all the time."