May 5, 2016

May 5, 2016

May 5, 2016

May 5, 2016

Superintendent's Message

Take Care of Yourself

This is a stressful time of year.  We’ve had weeks of testing and everyone is looking forward to the summer break.  Students are restless.  Teachers and staff are restless.  Administrators are restless.  We all are getting worn out from the ever-increasing demands of working in a public school system.  The good news is there are only 25 more days to go.  I just want to remind everyone to take care of yourself and take care of your families.  Our work is important, but our families must come first.  I’ve never worked as hard in my life as I have the last three-plus years, but I’ve never felt such a sense of accomplishment as I do working for Pasco County Schools, either.  Even with the stress, I think this has been a great year so far, and it’s all worth it because we do it for the kids.

Thank You, Teachers!



Florida Department of Education/Macy's Teacher of the Year Finalist

Fred K. Marchman Technical College's Donald Blake, Pasco County Schools' Teacher of the Year, was chosen as one of five finalists for the Florida Department of Education/Macy's Teacher of the Year. Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, Superintendent Kurt Browning, and Principal Rob Aguis surprised Blake mid-lesson to announce his selection. In addition to the honor itself, he was awarded a $15,000 check and a $500 Macy's gift card. Click here for the Tampa Bay Times article covering his selection.

Florida National History Day Competition Winners

This school year marks the ninth year Pasco County Schools competed in the Florida National History Day (NHD) competition.  Through NHD, students have developed the love of history by engaging in work that excites and teaches them how to relate the past to their present lives.  Pasco sent 46 students to the 2016 Florida National History Day competition in Tallahassee.  The following students won awards during the competition:

  • Akshaya Venkata, Land O' Lakes High School: Economic Freedom Award, Sr. Individual Website - Comparative Advantage of the Potosi Silver Mines
  • Lauren Pinero-Colon and Isabella Torres, Land O' Lakes High School: 2nd place, Sr. Group Exhibit - Sacagawea: Encounters & Exchanges with the Corps of Discovery
  • Jacqueline Cupo, Ariella Meier, and Emerson Parks, Pasco Middle School: 3rd place, Jr. Group Documentary - Hurricane Andrew and the Encounter with Florida
  • Shelton Ried, Paul R. Smith Middle School: Spirit of 45 Award, Jr. Individual Documentary - Nazi Invasion of Florida
  • Pierce Thomas, Paul R. Smith Middle School: 3rd Place, Jr. Individual Performance - Marco Polo and the Silk Road
  • Hannah Mayer, River Ridge Middle School: Outstanding County Award, Jr. Individual Exhibit - Jeff Corwin Gone Wild
  • Ronak Argawal, Charles S. Rushe Middle School: Mayflower Scholarship, Jr. Paper - James Cook

Pasco County Student Won State Severe Weather Poster Contest

Chasco Elementary School student Maria Flava Bustinza won the Florida Division of Emergency Management Region 4 Kids Severe Weather Awareness Week Poster Contest. Maria’s artwork was chosen for the top honor among schools from 8 west central Florida counties. The Florida Division of Emergency Management and The Pasco County Office of Emergency Management recognized Maria and her school during a special ceremony Wednesday, April 27 at Chasco Elementary School in Port Richey.  Maria and her teacher were awarded prizes for her winning poster.

“Pasco County’s Office of Emergency Management is thrilled to be able to honor Maria and celebrate her artwork,” said Pasco County Emergency Services Director Kevin Guthrie.  “She’s setting a wonderful example for her classmates and the rest of the community, reminding everyone to stay informed and be prepared for any kind of severe weather.”

This is the 15th year of the Severe Weather Awareness Week Poster Contest, which is open to students in Kindergarten through 5th grade.  Teachers encourage students to create a poster about what severe weather preparedness or a disaster supply kit means to them.  Students have to draw or paint their poster without computers, stencils or stickers.


Attention: 198-day Employees

An alert employee noticed that the calendar posted on the Calendar website included incorrect information about 2016-2017 pre-planning days for 198-day employees.  Pre-planning is August 8 – 12, 2016, and students return to school on August 15, 2016.



Pasco County Schools is holding a teacher job fair for Gulf Highlands, Gulfside, and Hudson elementary schools tonight from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Chasco Middle School's media center.  For more information, click here.


Saint Leo University Adult Education Center Info Sessions

 Saint Leo University’s Adult Education Center at University Campus will host information sessions for adult learners at the Pasco County School Board offices. Employees of the school district and area residents are invited to attend information sessions from 5 to 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 19, at the school board offices, 20425 Gator Lane, Portable 8-A, Land O’ Lakes, FL 34638, or 10 to 11 a.m., Saturday, May 21, at Saint Leo University, 33701 State Road 52, TECO Hall in the School of Business building, St. Leo, FL 33574. Saint Leo University’s Adult Education Center offers evening, weekend, and online programs and career-focused education. A 10 percent discount is offered for all bachelor’s degree programs through the Pasco County School Board corporate partnership with Saint Leo University. Click here to RSVP. For information, contact the Adult Education Center at 352-588-7544.


Pasco County Mobile Medical Unit

The Pasco County Mobile Medical Unit will be at the Dollar General store on Shady Hills Road from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 11.  Free medical care and physicals.  No insurance necessary.  For more information, click here.


Pasco County to Launch 2016 Online Citizen Survey

Pasco County launched its annual online survey to solicit feedback from residents on a variety of topics related to the future of the County, such as transportation and growth. The survey asks how often citizens use County-provided services and solicits feedback on how well the expectations for service delivery are met. This information, combined with data from Pasco County's random-sampling National Citizen Survey and citizen listening sessions, provides input for prioritizing their planning efforts and budget allocations. The online survey opened Monday, May 2nd and remains open through the end of the month. To take the survey, visit the Pasco County website and click on the survey link on the homepage. Click here for more information.


National Mental Health Awareness Month


National Arson Awareness Week

National Arson Awareness Week is May 1 through 7. Florida's Forest Service has provided a fact sheet to build awareness. Report any arson wildfires you discover to the Florida Forest Service at 1-800-342-5869. Click here for more information.



Superintendent Browning and Assistant Superintendent for Student Achievement Hilton, I am writing this email to you as both a parent and also as a proud fellow Pasco County Schools employee.  I wanted to take a minute to share with you just a few of the moments captured during Longleaf Elementary’s trip to Washington DC this past week, but most of all, recognize the dedicated people that made this experience of a lifetime possible.  I am constantly amazed by the dedication of Jim Wanker, Jennifer St. Charles, Patty Wanker, Jennifer Heptig, and Debbie Wichmanowski, but I have to tell you, they have out done themselves this time!  The Longleaf Elementary Freedom Review Show Choir was the only elementary choir invited to participate in the national event America Sings.  This was only possible because of the hard work of Jim Wanker and Jennifer St.Charles.  These outstanding teachers spend 3-5 mornings a week before their regular work day instilling a love of music, dancing, and performing in our children.  I truly believe my son Noah has become a more confident, successful, and well-rounded learner because of the experiences they have provided.  You would have been so proud of our Pasco County students!  They brought tears to the eyes of all that watched, especially the veterans.  In fact, they did so well that they were asked to perform their songs twice, which was not planned.  As a parent I can tell you, there is nothing better than watching your child perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital.  I also want to thank you and the school board for approving this trip.  It is a trip our children will never forget!  My son is a 5th grader, so we are very sad his journey at Longleaf is coming to an end; however, we look forward to the future of performing arts in Pasco County.  Thank you for your time.  I truly appreciate it! -Tracy Miller

Superintendent Browning, I want to recognize and give KUDOS to the North West Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). This past week, the Hudson community experienced multiple tragic events and required the support of the CIT.  This week (as in all crises events) the CIT provided necessary crisis support services to students, faculties and families. Thank you:  Roseann Agnello-Sellers, DianeClukey­-Chenard, Lauren Brewerton, Julie Lovett, Jan Haniford, Nicole Hart, Lewis Mazzone, Jamie Jones, Jeanmarie Batto and Amelia Maseda for all that you do! We celebrate you as one of our most valuable gifts in Pasco County Schools! -Alyssa J. Lipinski, M.A., Program Coordinator

Superintendent Browning, I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for my daughter's principal Adam Wolin at Mittye P. Locke Elementary.  This week she was receiving an award at Pasco-Hernando State College from Congressman Gus Bilirakis and Mr. Wolin and his wife took time out of their evening to attend the award ceremony and present her with a card.  She and my family were very touched and his support is very much appreciated. -Andrea Morrow

Events and Kudos sections are copied verbatim from their submission, with minimal, if any, alteration.

Hudson Elementary's Mrs. Scilex reads to students during their weekly Kindness Celebration.

Student Spotlight: Leah Potkay-Cornell

Leah Potkay-Cornell, the Hudson High School Turnaround Student of the Year, overcame challenges & graduates with her class.

Teacher Spotlight: Vanessa Podkomorski

Anatomy and Physiology class at Wiregrass Ranch High School.

Staff Spotlight

Bobbi Starling
Woodland Elementary School

Click here to read her interview.



JLMS 10th Anniversary Celebration

Dr. John Long Middle School proudly celebrates their 10th anniversary in their cafeteria on Tuesday, May 10, at 6 p.m. JLMS is located on 2025 Mansfield Blvd., in Wesley Chapel. Light refreshments will be served. There will also be performances by the school chorus, orchestra, band, and drama club.

WRES Parent and Community Night

Wiregrass Elementary School, Pasco County Schools’ newest school opening in August, is hosting an information session to welcome future students and their families. Participants will meet staff, learn about available resources for incoming students, and have the opportunity to get their questions answered. The Parent and Community Night will be hosted in Double Branch Elementary School's cafeteria on Tuesday, May 10, at 6 p.m. For more information contact Principal Steve Williams at 813-346-0700.

18th Annual Special Olympics Florida Golf Tournament

 The 18th Annual Special Olympics Florida Golf Tournament is a four person scramble and will be held on Saturday, May 14, at the Lexington Oaks Golf Club. The Lexington Oaks Golf Club is located at 26133 Lexington Oaks Blvd., in Wesley Chapel. Check-in begins at 12 p.m. and there is a 1 p.m. shotgun start. The participation fee is $65 and is tax deductible. It also includes green fees, cart, range balls, goody bag, raffle ticket, and a buffet dinner. Registrations must be received by May 6. Please print, complete, and send the registration form, with a check (payable to Special Olympics Florida - Pasco County) to:

Special Olympics Florida - Pasco County
Attn: Judy Brunner
38203 Henry Dr.
Zephyrhills, FL 33541
Phone: 813-794-6476
Fax 813-794-6438

Spring Football Jamboree

J.W. Mitchell High School is hosting their Spring Football Jamboree and carnival on Thursday, May 19. The carnival will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the football game against Fivay High School starts at 7 p.m. Some of the carnival activities are covered by the price of admission, but others will require payment to participate. Vendors will be at the jamboree with food, snacks, and drinks for purchase. This event's proceeds will go toward campus improvements. If you have questions, please email JWMHS Principal Jessica Schultz.

Important Dates


  • 1-7: Teacher Appreciation Week
  • 1-7: National Arson Awareness Week
  • 2-6: Spring FSAs
  • 2-20: Spring EOCs
  • 6: Progress Reports
  • 11: National School Nurse Day
  • 25: Senior's Last Day
  • 30: No School - Memorial Day