By Tamas Mondovics

Valrico Elementary School administration, faculty and staff will begin the new season this fall with an exciting change in leadership.

Former Colleen Bevis Elementary School Principal, Tricia Simonsen, was appointed last month by the Hillsborough County School District as Principal of Valrico Elementary, a new adventure she is eager to embark on.

“It was an honor to be a part of the Bevis Community for 13 years,” Simonsen said. “Watching Bevis students learn and grow in elementary and then move on through the middle and high school years was an incredible experience. I now look forward to repeating those experiences in the Valrico community as a Valrico Explorer.”

Simonsen brings to Valrico more than 23 years of experience and a long list of education-related accolades, which made her a household name within the FishHawk community and earned her a much-deserved honor and respect from her peers, teachers, students and parents throughout the county.

In 1990, Simonsen began her teaching career at Ruskin Elementary, and taught grades two through five before moving on to Mintz Elementary, where she served as the Administrative Resource Teacher for two years.

In 2000, she opened Bevis Elementary as the Assistant Principal. Four years later, she took the helm as Principal and served the school for the next nine years, until her current appointment.

Simonsen’s accolades include Bevis’ 2008 National Recognition as a Blue Ribbon School; State Recognition as a Five Star School 1999-2013.

She received the honor of 2012 Florida PTA Elementary Principal of the Year. In 2005, 2006, 2009 and in 2011 Simonsen was awarded the honor of Hillsborough PTA Elementary Principal of the Year. Also in 2011, she was the Hillsborough County Elementary Math Leader of the Year. In 2012 and 2013 she received the Hillsborough Counseling Association’s Elementary School Administration of the Year award.

Simonsen earned a BS Degree in Elementary Education from St. Bonaventure University in upstate New York, and her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Columbia University in NYC.

Starting the 2013-2014 school year, Simonsen emphasized the necessity of team-work to ensure that every student achieves their fullest potential and accomplishes great things.

“The Valrico Community has hard-working students, supportive families and dedicated teachers,” she said.

Simonsen is supported this year by Assistant Principal, Troy Smith and is proud of the skills of fourth-grade Teacher of the Year, Julie Sparks, Ida S. Baker Award (ELL Resource) recipient and Barbara Jarrett and Domingas Sena, who has earned the Instructional Support of the Year (ESE Aide) award.

“I truly thrive on the importance of motivating students to learn and maximizing teacher effectiveness, she said. “My commitment to doing whatever it takes for our school to be a leader in the district, state and nation, will be the result of a collaborative effort by all.”

Originally from New Canaan, Connecticut, Simonsen resides in the area and enjoys spending time with her husband and two teenage boys and is a big supporter of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Rays and Buccaneers.

She loves to attend sporting events with her family.

For more information about Valrico Elementary, located at 609 South Miller Rd., please visit or call the school at 744-6777.

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