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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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A tale of two teachers
Two highly qualified teachers at Hillsborough’s Clair Mel Elementary, a high-poverty school, had very different experiences with the state’s merit pay plan. One received the bonus; one did not.
By Letitia Stein, Times Staff Writer
Published February 24, 2008
Highly qualified fifth grade math and science teacher Janet Caraballo gets her students excited about learning with her enthusiasm in the classroom. Caraballo has been teaching for 31 years and is in her 3rd year at Clair-Mel Elementary School.
"This is where I want to be," said Clair-Mel Elementary third grade teacher Donna Violette. "I will retire in the classroom." Violette taught for 31 years at Gibsonton Elementary, and is in her third year at Clair-Mel, where she received merit pay through a merit award program which is a state-wide incentive to reward teachers for performance based on student results.
JANET CARABALLO Fifth-grade math and science teacher
Resume: 31 years' experience; master's in learning disabilities; national board certification
Honors: Teacher of the year at Gibsonton (1992) and Kingswood (1995) elementary schools; selected for specialized training through a teaching American history grant and a Florida teachers seminar on Asian religions.
Became a teacher because of: "Fifth grade. I had Mr. Smith at Yates Elementary. I can honestly say it was not because he helped me on any kind of a test."
Reaction to merit pay announcement: "When I checked it out, I didn't share it with anybody because I was too embarrassed. This is one day, one test score. Can you judge yourself on one day?"
On being judged by her students' performance: "This constantly being looked at and told you're not good enough, it's difficult, because I could so easily go to a middle-class school and be lost with all the other teachers."
Caraballo did not receive the merit pay bonus.
DONNA VIOLETTE Third-grade math, science and social studies teacher
Resume: 34 years' experience; master's in reading; national board certification
Honors: Teacher of the Year at Gibsonton Elementary (1995); Fulbright Scholar to Japan; delegate to Global Learning Summit in Tampa, two terms on Hillsborough's gifted steering committee.
Became a teacher because of: "Mrs. Beveridge, first grade, was an absolutely amazing teacher."
Reaction to merit pay announcement: "I found it embarrassing. My colleagues who are exceptional, exceptional teachers did not get it and that was embarrassing."
On being judged by student performance: "My children on that given day showed enough growth to get it. If the test had been given a week later, or a week earlier, who knows?"