By Matt Wiley

Sand Pine Elementary's new principal Scott Atkins
Sand Pine Elementary’s new principal Scott Atkins

With the 2013-14 school year set to begin in Pasco County on August 19, Sand Pine Elementary (SPE) and Wiregrass Ranch High (WRH) will both have new principals.

At SPE in Meadow Pointe, Scott Atkins, a previous assistant principal at nearby Double Branch Elementary (also in Meadow Pointe), has taken over for former principal Todd Cluff.

“I’m really excited for the new school year,” Atkins says. “I’ve only been in the building for two weeks (at our press time), but the staff is fantastic.”

Atkins, who has two Master’s degrees (in both guidance and leadership) from the University of South Florida (USF), has been in the Pasco County School District (PCSD) for 18 years as a teacher and guidnce counselor, but has spent the past 11 years as an administrator, most recently at Double Branch.

“I’m happy to still be in the Meadow Pointe community,” Atkins says.

The plan for the new school year, he explains, will be to continue the work of former principal Cluff and current assistant principal Karyn Kinzie, using collaborat

ive planning to attack the State of Florida’s more strict education standards.

“I’m walking into a good school with a strong staff,” Atkins says of SPE, which received an “A” grade from the State Department of Education (DOE) for the past two years. “I’ve been learning the culture since I got here and it seems like no one leaves once they start teaching here. The turnover rate is very low. That says a lot about the school. Everyone is very dedicated.”

WRH also has undergone an administration change, although technically it began at the end of the previous school year when then-assistant principal Robyn White took over for long time WRH principal Ray Bonti, who took a job with the District as executive director for support services.

WRH's new principal, former assistant principal Robyn White
WRH’s new principal, former assistant principal Robyn White

“It feels good,” says White. “I opened the school as assistant principal seven years ago and this has been something I’ve been working toward ever since.”

White says that her experience as as- sistant principal during her time at WRH has prepared her to take the reigns as principal.

“Mr. Bonti was always a big proponent of giving us many opportunities to take on different responsibilities,” White explains. “(Assistant principals) would change job responsibilities every couple of years and I’ve had the opportunity the past seven years to learn all of the skills necessary to become a principal.”

White says that parents and students can expect the school to continue to be forward-thinking and implementing technology in the classrooms.

White previously served as assistant principal at Wesley Chapel High (WCH) for 13 months before taking the assistant principal job at WRH. Prior to that, she worked as a math teacher in Pinellas County for 19 years, eight years at the middle school level and 11 years at the high school level.

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