December 1, 2016

December 1, 2016

December 1, 2016

December 1, 2016

Superintendent's Message

I hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving break!  As you may have heard, we are reassessing the current structure of superintendent’s staff and will be making some adjustments.  We are currently working on details, but the goal is to realign supports to focus on the most challenging schools.  This doesn’t mean that high performing schools will not be supported, but in order to move all of our schools where we want them to be, some changes have to be made in our focus.  I also want to make it clear that no one will be out of a job and no high-level jobs will be added.  This will just be a restructuring designed to increase academic achievement in schools identified by the state as needing improvement.  We will announce details before winter break.




Pasco Sheriff's Office Good Decision Winners

Congratulations J.W. Mitchell High School students Elena Vincent, Alissa Mankiewich, Maria Zalivaka, Jagger Lennon, Gavin Nall, Gavin Growe, and Christian Hernandez, who won the 2016 Pasco Sheriff's Office student essay contest. Christian, who wrote the winning essay entitled "The Importance of Making Good Decisions," was awarded a GoPro camera by the Pasco Sheriff's Office.


2016 Congressional App Challenge

Congressman Gus Bilirakis recently announced that Land O’ Lakes High School student Nikhil Dutt won the 2016 Congressional App Challenge for Florida’s 12th Congressional District. Nikhil’s app, “Student Toolbox,” was designed to simplify students’ lives. It helps students organize tasks, with tools such as reminders for assignment due dates; connect with teachers and peers through an address book; map out their classrooms by uploading maps of the school; and a “Media” button to use to upload podcasts, assignments and lectures from classes or online resources. Nikhil used a Microsoft Access program to create the app. Click here to watch a video demonstration of “Student Toolbox," and here for more information.


Pasco County Legislative Delegation

For the next two years, Pasco County will have an unprecendented influence on state politics. Congratulations to the following state legislators:

  • Representative Richard Corcoran, Speaker of the House
  • Senator Tom Lee, former Senate President and Senate Community Affairs Chairman
  • Senator Jack Latvala, Senate Appropriations Chairman
  • Senator Wilton Simpson, Senate Majority Leader


New/Renovated School Dedications

  • Wiregrass Elementary School: Thursday, December 1, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Bayonet Point Middle School: Tuesday, February 7, 2017, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.


Canvas Parent App

Canvas now has a new Parent App available. According to Instructure, it is a "first-of-its-kind mobile app for parents." Parents can view assignment descriptions, assignment grades, course grades and course announcements, and set reminders for assignments and alerts for specific grade activity, which they receive as push notifications on their mobile devices. The Canvas Parent app empowers parents to take a greater role in overseeing their children's academic work. It offers peace of mind that students are meeting expectations and insights into what teachers are scheduling in the near future. Finally, the app gives parents the opportunity to view pertinent, real-time data and information on their children's performance and participation in school. Click here for detailed instructions on how to download the Canvas Parent App.


Did You Know?

As a Pasco County Schools employee, you have access to CareHere healthcare centers. You can schedule appointments with a nurse or physician, receive prescription medication, and attain health assessment information, all for free with no co-pay. Click here to learn more and schedule an appointment.


Volunteers Needed

Volunteers are an important part of Pasco County Schools.  Last year, we had almost 17,000 approved volunteers who logged more than 234,000 hours of volunteer service.  We appreciate and are always looking for good volunteers, but we also want to make sure student and staff safety come first. As required by section 943.04351, Florida Statutes, the District Volunteer Programs office screens all applicants through the state’s Sexual Offenders and Predators database.  In addition to this screening, we also complete a statewide criminal records search.  Once an application is submitted and approved the applicant can volunteer at a school or school-sponsored event.

Each school should have an assigned Volunteer Coordinator to ensure that all visitors and volunteers have been approved and are properly verified, prior to any interaction with students. This includes activities on campus or participating in approved off-campus activities.  Each school should also use the Raptor system to rescreen and check in/check out each visitor/volunteer. Raptor checks that national sexual offender and predator database, and it is imperative that every visitor and volunteer is checked-in using Raptor so that we are not allowing registered sexual offenders on campus with children.  It also is the system the district uses to track volunteerism at our schools for reporting on the Success Plan scorecard.

There are many exciting and rewarding opportunities for Pasco County parents, students and retirees in our schools.  Anyone wanting to volunteer, whether it’s helping in the classroom, being a field trip chaperone or helping at afterhours events, must complete the online volunteer application.  District employees who volunteer at their children’s schools also are encouraged to complete the online application in order to track their volunteer hours. For more information, visit the Volunteer Programs webpage.


School Holiday Events

We want to share our schools' holiday events!  The Communications and Government Relations Department photographers are looking for classroom stories to tell through video.  If you have an exciting or interesting hands-on event planned, please call the department at 813-794-2717 or email Andy Dunn at least two days in advance and we will make every effort to come to your school. Be sure to send us descriptions, including the days and times, so we can share with media.


One Week Left! Feeding Pasco's Kids Food Drive

The Pasco Sheriff's Office annual Feeding Pasco's Kids food drive ends next Friday, December 9, and is accepting both monetary and food donations.  The proceeds from the Feeding Pasco's Kids food drive will help homeless children and students in Pasco County Schools. Donation boxes are in the lobbies of Pasco Sheriff's Office buildings and a number of area churches.  Monetary donations can be made by check or money order to Pasco Sheriff's Charities, with Food Drive in the "For" line. They can be mailed to Food Drive Donations, Pasco Sheriff's Charities, 8700 Citizen Drive, New Port Richey, FL 34654. If you would like to donate or have any questions about Feeding Pasco's Kids, please contact the Sheriff's Community Relations Office at 1-727-844-7759, Monday - Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


USF Education Specialist Program

The USF College of Education’s Educational Specialist Program, with an emphasis in Turnaround School Leadership, prepares educators to become effective school leaders skilled to address turnaround and underperforming school contexts. Click here for more information, or contact Associate Professor William. R. Black, Ph.D., Program Coordinator of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies at the USF College of Education at 813-974-6097.


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay Informational Sessions

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay is hoping that this holiday season people will give of their most precious commodity -- their time.
With more than 50 children in Pasco County on the waiting list for a Big Brother or Big Sister, the nation’s largest youth mentoring organization has streamlined its enrollment process to make becoming a volunteer mentor quicker and easier than ever. Throughout the month and at three locations in the county (New Port Richey, Land O’ Lakes and Wesley Chapel), Big Brothers Big Sisters conducts orientation and training sessions that, when completed, leaves the potential volunteer 90 percent through the enrollment process.

Adult mentors, called “Bigs,” can choose between several programs. There is a school-based program, where the Big visits his or her “Little” one hour a week at their school or afterschool program. Or they can choose the community-based program, sharing a minimum of 8 hours per month with their Little doing fun things like going to the movies, shopping, playing mini-golf or enjoying the many donated sports and theater tickets that BBBS provides for the matches.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay serves children in seven counties and had nearly 3,000 matches in 2015. The success of the program is impressive, with 99 percent of the children in the program last year staying out of the juvenile justice system, and 97 percent being promoted to the next grade level. To learn more about becoming a mentor, please plan to attend one of the following orientation and training events:

  • Saturday, December 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
    • New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center - 6630 Van Buren, in New Port Richey
  • Monday, December 12, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
    • Rasmussen College - 18600 Fernview Street, in Land O’ Lakes
  • Tuesday, December 13, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
    • Wesley Chapel Honda -27750 Wesley Chapel Blvd., in Wesley Chapel

For a complete list of orientation dates and locations, click here and follow the “volunteer” links. For more information please contact Deb Kristol-Irwin, Director of Partnership Development for Pasco County at 813-997-6881.


VFW Teacher of the Year Award Contest

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is accepting nominations for the 2017 VFW Smart/Maher National Citizenship Education Teacher Award. Nominations can be submitted by fellow teachers, supervisors, or other interested individuals.  Self nominations are not eligible. The annual award contest recognizes three exceptional teachers for their outstanding commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students. Each year, a classroom elementary, junior high, and high school teacher whose curriculum focuses on citizenship education topics -for at least half the school day in a classroom environment can be nominated. Winners will receive:

  • A $1,000 award for professional development expenses
  • A $1,000 award for his/her school
  • Two award plaques (one for the teacher and one for his/her school)
  • An all-expenses-paid trip to a VFW conference to receive their award.

Teachers who promote civic responsibility, flag etiquette, and patriotism are ideal candidates for the award. If you know a teacher who plans field trips to city hall, organizes community volunteer projects or invites local veterans to speak in class, anything to help students develop a better understanding of democratic values and beliefs, this award is for them. For more information, visit the VFW website for complete program guidelines and application instructions. The deadline is February 15, 2017.


National Louis University Information Session

National Louis University, the leader in educating educators since 1886, is organizing a cohort that will meet at in the Hernando County School Board's district office on Wednesday, December 7, at 4 p.m. Click here to learn more.



Superintendent Browning: ...This past school year I have worked at AES, which had to move into GMS last year and move back to a beautifully remodeled school this year. The tremendous amount of organization, planning and work that has gone into this project has been amazing to witness. The hard work of our Principal Kleinsorge and the endless meetings and decisions made cannot go without a large well deserved thank you for all her efforts working through this huge remodeling project. This was a tremendous amount of work while still running a school. Another big thank you is well deserved by our instructional and SRP staff that has a great ability to be adaptable and keep things afloat. They are awesome Sailors that really pull together in meeting kids needs and working so well together. I salute them! A special shout out to Dana Kistel (DEO) and Doreen Patterman (Bookeeper) who worked endlessly with all the vendors and attended more meetings than there seemed hours in a day at times. Dana helped create the layouts for all the maps and Doreen did all the purchasing orders. You ladies rock! This was a tremendous amount of work! Lastly, I want to say A GREAT BIG THANK YOU to our warm, kind and caring Custodial Staff who are like Santa’s Elves-NEVER getting thanked enough for ALL the work they do! Cheri Hill, Leeann Sibole, Butch Thornton, Regla Garcia, and Joe Yeager were AWESOME thru it all! Magically, while I was off for the summer enjoying family and friends, they were working endlessly to get us open and running the first day of school...AES is beautiful! -Denise Tuchman, R.N., Anclote and Gulfside elementary schools

Superintendent Browning, I would like to commend Ms. Alyssa Schuyler at Pasco Middle School. In the spirit of the United Nations International Day of Tolerance and in the wake of hearing some unkind things students at her school were saying to each other, Ms Schuyler wrote this message to her students on her board. Many students wanted to sign the board in agreement and in gratitude of what she had written. Ms Schuyler truly cares for each one of her students and makes sure they know that she loves them because they are who they are. She sets an amazing example for acceptance and tolerance and encourages her students to do the same. What a blessing it is to have wonderful teachers like Ms. Schuyler! -Kristy Foote

Superintendent Browning, I just wanted to take a minute to share some things with you about River Ridge High School and, more specifically, Dr. Toni Zetzsche. Let me begin by telling you that both my husband and I are veteran Pasco County teachers.  We are both in year 21 in our teaching careers.  We have both spent these last two decades at the Ridge...Our last year with her has been one that is hard to describe.  Toni came in and over the course of a few short months totally changed the climate of our school.  She seems to understand that happy workers work harder.  She is interested in morale.  While, she has high standards and focuses on our results, she actually seems to care whether or not we are happy while we work...The culture has shifted and we couldn't be happier...This is a wonderful school, finally lead by leaders who are investing in the students, and the faculty... -Mrs. Mimi Glover, NBCT, River Ridge High School

Debbie Smith, WOW! The picture is perfect and everything else! I have submitted to our Director for feedback. You are amazing! -Alexis G. Russell

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

Wiregrass Ranch High School teacher Bonnie Norman helps a student play bocce ball.

Department Spotlight: Food and Nutrition Services

Student Spotlight

Fivay High School student Shane Falco has been invited to play in the Performance Series at Carnegie Hall in February.

Staff Spotlight

Renee Hampton
Plant Manager
New River Elementary School

Click here to read her interview.


Centennial Middle STEM Magnet School Winter Festival

Centennial Middle STEM Magnet School is hosting their Winter Festival on Saturday, December 3, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 38505 Centennial Road, in Dade City. Call 352-524-9700 for more information. 


Scholastic Book Fairs' Holiday Warehouse Sale

Scholastic Book Fairs is hosting their Holiday Warehouse Sale December 6, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and December 7, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Tampa Events Banquet Hall & Conference Center. Click here for discounts and more information.


Flapjack 5K

The Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce is hosting the 23rd Annual Flapjack 5K and 1-mile Run on Sunday, December 11, at 8 a.m. at the Land O' Lakes Recreational Complex. It is being held in memory of former Land O' Lakes High School track and field coach, Kris Keppel. Register today by clicking here. If you would like more information, please click here to view the event flier.


Pasco County Schools Spirit Day

On Sunday, December 11, at 4:25 p.m., the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate Pasco County Schools Spirit Day as they take on the New Orleans Saints. For more information, or to purchase tickets, click here.


2017 Together We Stand Virtual 5K

The 2017 Together We Stand Virtual 5K will be held from January 9, 2017, through February 28, 2017, and registration is now open. The Annual Together We Stand Virtual 5K Run for Safe Schools supports our student leaders who are preventing bullying by making their schools safer and more inclusive. Click here to register and here for more information.


Thomas Promise Hunger Walk

The Thomas Promise program is in 24 Pasco County schools and provides more than 1,000 students with weekend backpacks filled with food. On February 11, 2017, The Thomas Promise's Hunger Walk will take place at Zephryhills High School at 8 a.m. The Hunger Walk is Thomas Promise's annual fundraiser to purchase the food that fills the backpacks. Click here to learn more.

Important Dates


  • 22: End of 2nd Quarter and 1st Semester
  • 23: Teacher Planning Day
  • 23-January 8: Winter Break