November 30, 2008
Being Principal For A Day Eye Opening
Newsome High School is one of the area’s largest employers with more than 170 staff, 2,200 customers and one CEO, the principal, Rebecca Fitzgerald. The corporation is run like a well-oiled machine with all 2,200 students who must be directed, encouraged, led, fed and molded into young adults and future college students. Each day starts before 7 a.m. for Fitzgerald, who, along with her administrative staff, welcomes the students to the school by supervising both arrivals and daily departures from the school. In addition, she and the administrators spend 150 minutes each day in the cafeteria, supervising the students through the three, 50-minute lunch periods. Newsome also opened its new $2 million, two-story, 24-classroom wing, which rid the school of its portables this year, and there is a little room for growth, according to Fitzgerald. In addition to the academics, students at Newsome participate in more than 40 clubs and organizations, and have an opportunity to take part in the Careers programs including Interior Design, Fashion Marketing and more. With three years committed to these classes, students may earn extra recognition for Bright Futures Scholarships. Also, along with a budding agriculture program, driver’s ed, a district championship winning football team, band and orchestra, a strong army ROTC program and much-more, Newsome is a welcome environment for students to find themselves. Walking the halls with the principal is eye-opening, there are no raised eyebrows or concern on the teachers’ faces when Fitzgerald walks into a classroom. Since she does all of the evaluations of the teachers twice a year, they are all used to her observations. In addition to hiring all staff, Fitzgerald’s daily duties include: ordering supplies, approving orders, payroll, schedules, meetings with staff, administration and parents on request, closing the school, etc. “We have an excellent administrative staff,” explains Fitzgerald who started in the classroom as a math teacher and worked her way through Tomlin Middle School and Dowdell Middle School, before landing at Brandon High School where she was principal for eight years. “I have fallen in complete love with every school I have been at and wanted the opportunity to open a school,” she describes, explaining her move to Newsome more than six years ago. “Many of our staff are the same who opened the school with us and we all work very well together.” Fitzgerald makes the commute from her office to the cafeteria several times per day logging ¼ mile each time. She has lived in the Brandon/Valrico area since she moved from Ohio in 1980. “There is a wealth of opportunity in this school system for kids and we are just here to guide them.” Brandon Sports and Aquatics director Chuck Burgess was principal for a day at Nelson Elementary School and enjoyed his experience. “Teachers really have a commitment to the classroom and were having fun!” The principal for a day program is put on by the Hillsborough Education Foundation, a non-profit organization started in 1988 to enhance public education through community partnerships, grants and scholarships. The foundation hosts a monthly luncheon to learn more about partnerships with the district. An upcoming Spotlight on Education lunch will be held on Tuesday, December 9, 12 noon at Teaching Tools Supply Store at 3719 Corporex Park Dr. Suite 400, Tampa. 740-7651 ext. 225 or visit www.educationfoundation.com.