Cypress Creek Middle School has its first principal, and he is a familiar face to many of the students who will help him open the school next fall.
Tim Light was most recently an assistant principal at the combined Cypress Creek Middle High School. His office will continue to be on that campus.
Light’s appointment was approved at the Pasco School Board meeting on Oct. 1 and became official on Oct. 2.
“I was here when the school opened and am really thrilled to have the opportunity to take what we started here and branch into another building,” says Light.
Light has been an assistant principal with the Pasco County School District since January 2011, serving for many years with principal Carin Hetzler-Nettles at both Cypress Creek and Wesley Chapel High. Prior to that, he taught in both Pasco and Broward counties. He holds an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Curriculum Instruction Management and Administration, a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Educational Leadership, and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Secondary Education Social Studies.
“I think it’s amazing,” says Hetzler-Nettles of Light’s new job. “He helped me open this school. He really took part in the creation and building a foundation of Cypress Creek. In my mind, it’s truly a perfect fit.”
While she’s excited for the school’s growth, Hetzler-Nettles says she’ll miss the students, faculty and staff who are moving to the middle school adjacent to the high school campus.
“It’s bittersweet,” she says. “It’s like losing an appendage. I really do feel that way.”
The combined school currently has nearly 1,000 middle school students and 1,250 high school students. Rezoning to ease crowding at other local schools (see story on pg. 6) is expected to add about 600 students at each school. When the middle school opens in fall 2020, it should have somewhere around 1,600 students.
Light says the combined school’s assistant principals who are designated as middle school assistants will make the move with him, along with about 45 or so teachers.
“I’m ecstatic to have this opportunity,” says Light, “continuing what we started here and taking it to another level over there, where we can focus solely on middle school.”
The middle school campus is being built to host a fine arts program with a black box theatre. Students who enroll in the fine arts program at the middle school are expected to have a seamless transition into the fine arts program at Cypress Creek High, including the opportunity to take dual enrollment performance classes through Pasco Hernando State College, which is building its Instructional Performing Arts Center (IPAC) on a nearby piece of property that is adjacent to both the middle and high school.
Light says another exciting feature of the middle school allows students to take industry certification courses. For example, students in the digital media and multimedia academy will learn Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign and, at the completion of eighth grade, will take the tests that will allow them to be certified in these programs.
“Adults pay hundreds of dollars for these certifications,” says Light, “but these kids take them for free as a 14-year-olds.”
He says the new campus will feel very much like an extension of the high school campus. The colors and mascot of Cypress Creek Middle High will be used at both the middle and high schools next year.
The transition should be seamless for Light as well, despite the fact that the last time he held a middle school job title was back in Broward County in 2007.
“Even though my job (history) has been as a high school assistant principal,” says Light, “having a combined campus, we never looked at our staff and kids as two different levels. They are all our kids.”
District officials are confident in Light’s abilities, too.
“He is a proven leader in the area with his past experiences at Wesley Chapel High School (as assistant principal) and Wiregrass Ranch High School, as teacher, coach and leader,” says Marcy Hetzler-Nettles, assistant superintendent for middle schools.
“The vision he laid out for the future of the middle school was crystal clear, with multiple strategies to engage and ensure student success,” she continues. “Mr. Light’s enthusiasm and actions embody and elevate all aspects of our district vision and mission to prepare students for success in college, career and life.”