September 29, 2016

September 29, 2016

September 29, 2016

September 29, 2016

Superintendent's Message

College Ready Tampa Bay

As you may have noticed in recent editions of School Matters, Pasco County Schools is fortunate to benefit from the generosity of the College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission (TBSC), and the Helios Education Foundation. I wanted to make you aware of another opportunity that will put Pasco schools in the spotlight: College Ready Tampa Bay, by the Florida College Access Network (Florida C.A.N.). Florida C.A.N. partnered with the CFP Foundation, TBSC, and Helios to provide three programs and grant opportunities for public school teachers and counselors in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties:

  1. Tampa Bay College Application Week
  2. Tampa Bay FAFSA Challenge
  3. College Culture Classroom Grant

Each one of these programs can provide direct funding to your classroom! Visit College Ready Tampa Bay online to see how you can participate.





Pasco School Board Seeks Input on Naming Schools

The District School Board of Pasco County is accepting suggestions from the community for the names of two schools that are scheduled to open in August 2017. Elementary B is located in the Bexley Ranch subdivision, north of State Road 54 and east of the Suncoast Parkway. High School GGG is located on Old Pasco Road in Wesley Chapel. School Board policy encourages community members, educators, and students to provide suggestions for school names. The Board prefers to name schools after the general location, features of the area, or historical information about the school’s location, and the suggested name must be descriptive and brief.

If submitting the name of an individual, the name should be of a person of prominence recognized for his or her outstanding civic or educational contribution. The Board will only consider naming a school after an elected official or School Board employee if he or she has been deceased for two or more years or left public office or employment in the district two or more years ago. The name, once adopted by the Board, is considered permanent unless the facility or its use changes.Please submit your suggestions with a brief explanation for each school name by October 1, 2016. Email separate submissions for each school to Debbie Hebert, and type “Elementary B” or “High School GGG” in the subject line. Submissions also can be faxed to 813-794-2716, or mailed to:

Deborah Hebert
Pasco County Schools
Communications & Government Relations Dept.
7227 Land O’ Lakes Blvd.
Land O’ Lakes, FL 34638


Employee Benefits Updates

Employee Benefits and Wellness Fair - This Saturday!

Open Enrollment Begins in October

Open Enrollment begins October 1st and ends October 31st. The District will be hosting the annual Benefit and Wellness Fair at Land O' Lakes High School on October 1st from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Flu shots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here to schedule your appointment with an enroller.

Benefits Update #1

Benefits Update # 1 for the upcoming open enrollment is available online. This issue includes information on:

  • Annual Benefits and Wellness Fair (October 1, 2016)
  • Open Enrollment (October 1 – October 31, 2016)
  • Medical Benefits and the Health Opt Out Plan
  • Behavioral Health and Employee Assistance Program
  • Prescription Drug Plan (Pharmacy)
  • Core and Supplemental Life

Additional information about benefit election options are available online by clicking here.


FATE Annual Conference

The Florida Association of Teacher Educators (FATE) Annual Conference is October 7 and 8, at Saint Leo University. The cost to attend is $75, which includes:

  • FATE membership for one year
  • Friday, October 7, Conference Event Access
    • View the Student Showcase, and
    • Listen to guest speaker Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, and
    • Meet other FATE members during the reception.
  • Saturday, October 8, Conference Event Access
    • Enjoy a continental breakfast, and
    • Attend a two hour training: Building Academic Vocabulary with Foldables, and
    • Learn along with other FATE members during the breakout sessions, and
    • Celebrate during the awards luncheon with guest speaker Jeff Borden, Saint Leo University's CIO, and
    • Attend break-out sessions.

Registration is now open! Click here to register and learn more.


“Teach Like a PIRATE” Author at Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University invites anyone interested in improved classroom teaching techniques or education generally to a presentation featuring nationally-recognized teacher and education consultant Dave Burgess speaks from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, October 7, in the Greenfelder-Denlinger Boardrooms of the Student Community Center. Admission is free. Burgess gained notice as an award-winning high school history teacher from San Diego. He began sharing techniques for boosting creativity in lesson creation, increasing student engagement, and overcoming obstacles in the classroom, with other teachers through his books and presentations. He uses the catch phrase “Teach Like a PIRATE,” a memory prompt for: passion, immersion, rapport, ask and analyze, transformation, and enthusiasm. The October 7 talk is intended for teachers and pre-service teachers, but all those interested in education are invited to attend. The talk is also the keynote event for the Florida Association of Teacher Educators conference, which is hosted by Saint Leo this year. The university is located at 33701 State Road 52, Saint Leo, four miles east of Interstate 75 (Exit 285). Parking is available in the campus garage or in surface lots. For more information, contact Dr. Valerie Wright of the education faculty.


JWMHS AP Workshop

J.W. Mitchell High School is hosting a one-day workshop for eight Advanced Placement (AP) courses. The registration deadline is Monday, October 3, and the public workshop will be held on Monday, October 17. Click here for more information, including registration. 


Pasco Voter Guide

As we approach the 2016 General Elections, Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley has prepared a voter guide so you can #BeElectionReady. This guide contains information regarding:

  • Bookclosing Dates
  • Election Dates
  • Vote By Mail Sign-up
  • Elections Terminology Definitions

The Pasco Supervisor of Elections Office can be reached at 1-800-851-8754.


Zika Virus

Click here for information about protecting yourself and your family from the Zika virus.  The district is adding links and information to the Health Information page on the Parents portal.


Submit Your Story Ideas

Communications staff is always looking for story ideas to pitch to reporters, so they created an online form to make it easy for teachers, staff, and administrators to send in items of interest.  Click here to access the form.



Principal Jeffrey Mitchell, I wanted share with you our appreciation for Watergrass Elementary and especially Jennifer Welling. Today, [my son] was excited to come home and tell me all about how Mrs. Welling has been reading a book aloud to the class and how exciting it was to finish it. He said the class was so into the story, they didn't want to leave the room. This is huge considering they typically leave the room for fun things, recess, specials, lunch, etc. I cannot tell you how much I LOVE hearing this! It truly made me so happy to hear she is actually reading it herself, in her very own expressive way, directly to the class...I cannot commend you enough on your staff and the support you give them as an administrator. You are all doing a fantastic job and we are very honored to be a part of your school. -Jill Rodeffer, parent

Principal Jennifer Warren, I wanted to take a moment to recognize you for your assistance and professionalism with our recent investigation into the two ten year olds girls who ran away from a Pine View Middle bus stop after school this past Tuesday. As you noted, you were surprised by the large response of PSO members who responded, and by allowing us to have full use of your front office space, made for a great partnership, and a thankful resolution in locating both children safely. I was proud to let you see firsthand the response of our PSO members, specifically our (MAC team / Missing and Abducted Children) and how we take matters such as this with great importance. Your assistance, and that of PVMS employees Sandy Dinehart and LoriAnn Hernandez does not go unnoticed, and we are proud to work alongside such great and dedicated folks like all of you. Thank you for allowing me to utilize the school and its resources for all those involved. We are grateful. -Captain William "Bill" T. Davis, Pasco Sheriff's Office, Field Operations, District 2 Commander

Lisa Marie Carmack, a Telecom Tech named Jorge Pejot, came to the clinic at Ridgewood High School on Wednesday to figure out why our fax machine was not sending or receiving faxes. He was able to fix that problem so quickly that I gave him another challenge, to get our student phone working again. Since we did not know that phones extension this was a difficult task but Jorge persevered, returned on Thursday and I am so happy to report that the student phone is now working. Jorge was not only professional, determined and knowledgeable but extremely personable. Thank you again Jorge. We truly appreciate it. -Barbara Strommer, Clinic Assistant, Ridgewood High School

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

Extra Yard for Teachers honored 10 Pasco teachers, and with 20 from Hillsborough and Pinellas, at the FSU vs USF game.

Hands-on Learning at the EMC

J.W.Mitchell High School students visit the Energy and Marine Center.

Staff Spotlight

Hayley Hipkins Ellsworth
First Grade Teacher
Shady Hills Elementary School

Click here to read her interview.

Student Spotlight

Allysa Allen
River Ridge High School

Click here to read her interview.

Department Spotlight

Office of Resource Services
Department Reorganization

Click here to read their interview.


Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and cancer is the leading cause of death by disease of children in the U.S. Here are some facts:

  • Every three minutes a child is diagnosed.
  • 15,780 U.S. children are diagnosed yearly.
  • 1/285 are diagnosed before age 20.
  • 1/4 will die from cancer or side effects.
  • 2/3 will develop long term side effects from chemo drugs, such as loss of hearing and vision, heart and kidney disease, secondary cancers, learning disabilities, and infertility.
  • 40,000 children are under treatment yearly.
  • Each day infants and children endure surgeries and chemo drugs with a smile.
  • 4% of NCI funding goes for pediatric cancer research and there have only been three new drugs in the last 20 years.

Learn more about real stories of children with cancer:

NAMI Pasco Igniting Change Annual Awards Banquet

DC Country Jam 2016

DC Country Jam 2016 will be held on Saturday, October 8, at the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City. This year's concert benefits the Thomas E. Weightman Middle school band; the Pasco Middle School Angler Club and Future Farmers of America; and the Pasco High School band, girls soccer, and girls weightlifting team. DC Country Jam, Inc. is in the process of creating a $500 music scholarship to award to a graduating senior pursuing a career in music. Last year, $14,000 was raised for new instruments and student organizations. Click here to view this year's promotional video.

Red Ribbon Week

This year's Red Ribbon Week theme is Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once): Be Drug Free™.


2nd Annual Pasco County Out of the Darkness Walk

Please join us on Saturday, November 5, for Pasco County's 2nd Annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk! Registration for this event is free. Below is the schedule:

  • Registration: 9:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.
  • Opening Ceremony: 11 a.m.
  • Walk begins: 11:30 a.m.
  • Closing ceremony: 1 p.m.

Click here to create your own team/join a team for the Pasco County Out of the Darkness Community Walk.


Veterans Day Program

We are creating a tribute again this year to all of our employees who are veterans to show at the district Veterans Day presentation, which is scheduled for Friday, November 11, at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge.  Andy Dunn will be creating a video to honor their service. If you are a veteran, please submit a photo to Andy Dunn by October 21.  If you sent a photo last year, you do not have to resubmit one this year.   You will receive more details about the Veterans Day celebration as the date approaches.

Fred K. Marchman Technical College Rededication Ceremony

The Fred K. Marchman Technical College Rededication Ceremony will take place on November 16, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Fred K. Marchman Technical College. Click here for a copy of the Save the Date card.

Important Dates


  • 1-31: National Suicide Prevention Month
  • 1-31: Attendance Awareness Month
  • 1-31: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
  • 15 through October 15: National Hispanic Heritage Month
  • 26-30: Celebrate Freedom Week


  • 1-31: Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month
  • 1-31: National Bullying Prevention Month
  • 1-31: National Principals Month
  • 1-31: Polish-American Heritage Month
  • 5: International Walk to School Day