By Tamas Mondovics

YMCA Camp Cristina Hosts Backpack Outreach Event

The Tampa YMCA has once again teamed up with the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) to help area students, in grades K-12, to start then school year off on the right note.
To accomplish their purpose, Y officials hosted the annual YMCA Backpack Outreach Event at Camp Cristina at 9840 Balm Riverview Rd. in Riverview, and supplied backpacks stuffed with essentials necessary for the school year.

According to YMCA Spokesperson Lalita Llerena, the event was a great success as it served nearly 600 families, 900 students (K-12) while donating 1,000 new backpacks. 

“Each registered child received a free backpack filled with age-appropriate school supplies,” Llerena said adding that during the event, each family also received a free bag full of groceries, toothbrushes and toothpaste, water, smoothies and bananas. “They also participated in free health screenings, crafts and fun activities.”

The annual YMCA Backpack Outreach Event is designed for pre-registered families facing financial hardship or recovering from job loss, fire or another qualifying emergency.

Llerena added that the Tampa YMCA is committed to giving students the supplies they need in order to succeed in school and also thanked ECHO and other community partners, who have helped provide children the opportunity to start school with the resources to be successful. It’s part of the Y’s efforts to close the academic achievement gap between children from lower-income households and their middle/upper-income peers.

The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA is a cause-driven 4-star charity, strengthening Hillsborough and East Pasco communities for more than 127 years, through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the Association, 18 facilities engage more than 160,000 men, women and children — regardless of age, income or background.

For more information, visit

New Teacher Orientation

Led by Superintendent Jeff Eakins, school board members, and district staff, more than 600 new teachers were welcomed to Hillsborough County Public Schools during the annual New Teacher Orientation held last month at Armwood High School.

This year’s four-day orientation emphasized a fresh look in response to the needs of district teachers as well as their feedback from previous years.

The first two days, aimed at familiarizing teachers with the district’s mission, vision, and goals through a comprehensive induction model. Days three and four included CHAMPS/Discipline in the Secondary Classroom training to assist teachers with establishing classroom culture during the first few weeks of school.

Experienced teachers were invited to register for various courses offered during day three and four at the district’s main training facility.

For more information about Hillsborough County Public Schools, visit

FDE Releases School Grades

The Florida Department of Education released the 2015-2016 school grades based on the Florida Standard Assessments (FSA) in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry End-of-Course.

Hillsborough County Public Schools had 51 schools that were graded an “A” and 43 schools received a “B” grade.

Six schools within the district improved their grade from an “F” to a “C,” including Bryan, Desoto Elementary, Ruskin, West Tampa Elementary schools along with two charter schools.

“Our teachers, school administrators, and district staff have been working diligently preparing our students for these assessments, just as they have done in the past,” said Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins.

In an online press release district officials acknowledged that, “teachers, leaders, and support staff know that there is much more work to do to ensure success for our students as they prepare them for life.”

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