Valrico resident Heidi Koplin was recently named principal at Brooker Elementary School. She is pictured here with her husband, Benjamin, and daughter, Madison. Not pictured is her son, Andrew.

Brandon’s Brooker Elementary School will begin its 60th year this month with a new principal at the helm. Valrico resident Heidi Koplin returned to the school where she first taught in 2006 over the summer and is looking forward to leading Brooker students and families for an important milestone year.

Koplin, who was hired by outgoing principal Julie Kelly as a second-grade teacher when she moved to the area from Minnesota in 2006, most recently acted as the assistant principal at Brandon’s Mintz Elementary for two years and held the same role at Thompson Elementary in Ruskin before that. She also worked as a math coach at Mintz from 2012-2014.

“I am so excited to be back [at] Brooker,” said Koplin. “One of my first stops when I came back to campus was my old classroom. It has been wonderful to be somewhere familiar with so many welcoming faces.”

Growing up in a small town in Minnesota, Koplin learned the importance of community and education. Her father-in-law taught in her high school and her own father was a community college teacher.

“Brooker has such a strong sense of community,” she said. “Everyone knows someone who went to Brooker and people are so proud of their school.”

Koplin plans to focus on increasing the technology available to Brooker students and is already working on campus beautification projects to help the school move into its next decade.

In her free time, Koplin is an avid reader, loves cooking and travels as much as possible, especially internationally. Her love for travel began when she studied abroad in France in college and, along with her husband, Benjamin, she tries to plan at least two trips out of the country each year. A visit to Thailand is on her bucket list.

Her children, Madison and Andrew, both graduated from Burns Middle and Bloomingdale High Schools and Madison also attended Brooker for elementary school.

“It is such a privilege to lead this community,” said Koplin. “Brooker is a gem of a school.”

Brooker Elementary is located at 812 Dewolf Rd. in Brandon and can be reached at 744-8184.

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Kate Quesada is the Multimedia Manager for the Osprey Observer Newspapers. She has been working for the paper in various positions since 2005 when she graduated with her Masters degree in mass communications. She lives in Valrico with her husband Mike and son Dylan.