Staff in the Spotlight

Staff in the Spotlight: Frances Stapel

What is your role in Pasco County?
My role is an ESE instructional assistant. I have been at Weightman Middle School since 2005.

What do you love about your job?
What I like most about my job is seeing the children achieve goals and working with incredible educators that are so compassionate.

Who or what inspires you?
I'm inspired by those who model good work ethics, those who own it, believe it and work hard for it every day.

Tell us something unique that people may not know about you.
Something people might not know about me is I once had an advice column in my hometown (Littleton, Massachusetts) newspaper.


Staff in the Spotlight: Carmen Garrison

What is your role in Pasco County?

I am a kindergarten teacher and team facilitator at Chester W. Taylor Elementary School. This is my fifth year in this position and I am also now going into my tenth year of teaching.

What do you love about your job?

I love so many things about my job, but mostly having the privilege and opportunity to work with our youngest learners and impact not only my students, but all of our kindergarten students in some way each year. I love that I get to lay the foundations of each subject area as well as foster social and emotional growth and a love for learning! One of our team commitments is that “Kindergarten should be SUPER fun” each day and I truly believe in this philosophy and feel grateful that I get to honor this commitment with the students at my school.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired each day I come to work by the amazing staff at my school who go above and beyond for EVERY student at our school. Their commitment to impact the life of every student inspires me the most. I have never been around a more dedicated group of administrators, teachers, and support staff. I have grown as a teacher and leader in so many ways in the past five years at CWTES!

Tell us something unique that people may not know about you.

This is definitely a hard question, but some people may not know I am a “softball mom” to two beautiful young athletes. My oldest daughter just recently committed to play softball at the University of North Georgia with an amazing scholarship offer!

The person who nominated Ms. Garrison shared, “She is an amazing asset to the school.”


Staff in the Spotlight: MSgt USMC (ret) Homer Hodges Jr.

What is your role in Pasco County?

I am a Naval Science Instructor (Teacher) in the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps
(NJROTC) at Fivay High School.

What do you love about your job?

I love the fact I have the opportunity to impact lives of students “real time”. The program which I instruct allows students, if they choose, to graduate and have a career with promotion opportunities day one, because of the NJROTC program.

Who or what inspires you?

I work with low Social Economic Students; providing them the opportunity to leave the area and have a sustainable career and life is all the inspiration I have needed for the past 19 years.

Tell us something unique that people may not know about you.

I served on active duty in the United States Marine Corp for 22 years and have been in the county for the past 19 years helping students be successful.


Staff in the Spotlight: Jennifer Sybert

What is your role in Pasco County?

I am the front office secretary and guest teacher coordinator for Land O’ Lakes High School. Which can be extremely challenging.

What do you love about your job?

I love my interaction with the students. It’s amazing to see just how much the kids grow into young adults through the years.

Who or what inspires you?

My faith and my family are what inspires me. I know I need to be a role model to not only my own children but for other children and their parents that I come in contact with on a daily basis. In the world we live in right now you never know what little influence you can have on someone to brighten up their day regardless of what they are going through.

Tell us something unique that people may not know about you.

I am also a pediatric dental assistant. I work for a practice here in the area and have been with them for the last 20 years. This has allowed me to have had the opportunity to know a lot of our families here at the school. Some of the kids here I have known since they were very small children and then to see them graduate is something really special.

The person who nominated Ms. Sybert shared, “She is a rare gem always willing to help anyone who needs help.”


Staff in the Spotlight: Andrea Orndorff

What is your role in Pasco County?
I am the Kindergarten and First grade ESE support facilitator at Dr. Mary Giella Elementary. I am the coordinator for Odyssey of the Mind as well as a coach. I am also the PTA president at the school.

What do you love about your job?
I love the kids. I enjoy being able to help them reach their full potential. There is nothing better than when a student who has been struggling, finally gets it.

Who or what inspires you?
My two children inspire me. No matter what they are facing, they face it with faith and courage. They start off every day like it is a new day.

Tell us something unique that people may not know about you.
I am on the board of directors for a non-profit called Marjorie’s Hope. This year we filled 3,500 backpacks with school supplies to give to students in need around Pasco County.


Staff in the Spotlight: Bill Rutherford

What is your role in Pasco County?
I am in my 26th year as the Director of Bands at Gulf High School. I work with the marching, concert, and jazz bands as well as our color guard. I also teach piano, Advanced Placement Music Theory, International Baccalaureate Music and Video Production.

What do you love about your job?
I love creating music with my students and watching them grow as musicians. I am lucky to have them for all 4 years of high school and to see them enter as young 9th graders and graduate as mature 12th graders with their lives ahead of them. The interaction with the students is what makes me love what I do each day.

Who or what inspired you?
Two of my former music teachers are my inspiration. I gained a love for music from my elementary music teacher, John Keon, who taught music at Anclote Elementary and Hudson Middle School. And as a graduate of Gulf High School myself, my high school band director, Ed Francis, inspired me to become a band director.

Tell us something unique that people may not know about you.
My wife and I are proud owners of an 8 -month old hedgehog named Milo. He is the second hedgehog we have owned since 2017.


Staff in the Spotlight: Cheryl Furia

What is your role in Pasco County?

I work as the Data Entry of Fox Hollow Elementary School.

What do you love about your job?

I love the students the most. Every day I receive tons of hugs and love from them. Some days I’m fortunate enough to be able to spend a bit of time talking with them. I also love my Fox Family…they’re my favorite!

Who or what inspires you?

The resilience of each of the students. The way they come to school and do their best every day. You can catch them helping and truly caring about each other. No matter what comes their way, they manage to make the best of it.

Tell us something unique that people may not know about you.

Despite my loud and perky behavior at school, I am actually very shy and a bit introverted.

The person who nominated Ms. Furia shared, “She knows every single student’s name by heart! She floats all over the office helping where she can.”


Staff Spotlight: Shawnda Weaver

What is your role in Pasco County?
I am a Head Start/VPK Teacher. This is my third year teaching at Moon Lake Elementary.

What do you love about your job?
I have been working in the Early Childhood Education field for 23 years and I truly feel at home being a part of the Head Start Program. The program supports young children and their families using a wholistic approach. I love that I can teach and support my students using best practices for young children by providing a developmentally appropriate education.

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired every day by the resiliency of my young students and their desire to discover and learn in spite of the adversity that they face. I know that all children can grow and develop when encouraged and given the opportunity to do their very best. That is what inspires me to grow as a teacher and to find new ways to engage my students for optimal learning while meeting individual student needs.

Tell us something unique that people may not know about you.
I love go on adventures and discover new things! I enjoy camping in my home state of Michigan, hiking in the mountains of Colorado and kayaking in Florida.


Staff in the Spotlight: Lisa Peart

What is your role in Pasco County?
I have been the School Counselor at Northwest Elementary for 14 years. I am a Harmony Project Champion and the ABC /Family Involvement Coordinator. I am also on the School Counselor Leadership team and I am the Regional Support for the Elementary counselors in the Northwest Region.

What do you love about your job?
I love being able to help people! I am blessed to be in a position where I can help students, families, teachers and staff at Northwest as well as other counselors around the district.

Who or what inspires you?
Florida Senator Lauren Book. She is a childhood survivor of sexual abuse and has created the Safer Smarter Kids curriculum. It is offered to school districts free of cost and is implemented in all Pasco County schools by the School Counselors. Senator Book is committed to empowering children with the tools needed to stay safe. Students’ lives have been impacted greatly thanks to Senator Book and her dedication to stopping abuse and fighting for the rights of victims. For that I will be forever grateful. I am also inspired by the resiliency I see in my students every day.

Tell us something unique that people may not know about you.
I love to read but the last few years since I’ve born my two sons, all I get to read are children’s books. That is okay though since someday I hope to write a children’s book myself!


Staff in the Spotlight: Audrey Derkiss

What is your role in Pasco County?

I have taken many roles in the school system over the past twenty years. I have been a Pre-k teacher and an Instructional Assistant in both Kindergarten and high school. I have also been involved in promoting and advancing an afterschool enrichment program.

What do you love about your job?

The part of my job that I love the most is to see the look in the eyes of a student the moment that they “get it”! That moment is the best!

Who or what inspires you?

My husband and my children inspire me. Knowing they are proud of me and what I do for my students makes me want to work harder.

Tell us something unique that people may not know about you.

I love classical music and the smell of fresh cut grass.

The person who nominated Ms. Derkiss shared, “Always has a smile on her face, very professional, and goes beyond what her job requires”.




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