By Tamas Mondovics

For students, teachers and parents at Eisenhower Middle School, the 2012-2013 school year began with a special treat as they were welcomed by Danielle Shotwell, their new principal at the helm.

Replacing Dena Collins, Shotwell, former Bloomingdale High School Assistant Principal for Student Affairs (2001-2004) and Assistant Principal for Administration (2004-2012), brings to Eisenhower more than a decade of administrative experience.

“I will miss the faculty and staff who I have developed relationships with over the last 11 years as well as the many students who I had the opportunity to mentor and work with,” she said, but emphasized that while Bloomingdale is a special place and she will always be proud to be a part of the Bloomingdale family, making new friends and building new memories as new principal will now be the order of the day.

“My focus right now is on getting to know the school and the community,” Shotwell said. “The school has been a long standing fixture in the community for more than 40 years and I want to connect to the rich history we have here at Eisenhower while building towards the future.”

Shotwell, 38, will rely on her experience and qualifications, which will come in handy as she leads her staff of 150 and 1,400 students.

“I am excited for the challenge to lead a school and to be responsible for creating an environment where students can excel academically, grow socially and develop the leadership skills that they will need to be successful in high school and beyond,” she said.

Shotwell has been happily married for 14 years to her husband, Jeff, and has a 4-year-old son named J.J. Her education includes a B.A. in Mathematics Education, a master’s in Educational Leadership and an Educational Specialist Degree.

Recognizing the opportunity to work with a strong faculty also under the direction of Assistant Principals Denis Peters, D. Nikki Knight and Jonathan Booker, all of whom are dedicated to student achievement, Shotwell’s goal is to be a principal who supports teachers so that they have all of the tools they need to help every student achieve success.

“I want the community to feel connected to the school and our students to be proud to say that they are Eisenhower Generals,” she said.

Eisenhower Middle School is located at 7620 Old Big Bend Rd. in Gibsonton. For more information about the school, please visit

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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.