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Accelerate Hillsborough

It is with great pleasure that I introduce members of my transition team. Each person has been strategically identified because of their experience and success with making deliberate, instructional and operational decisions leading to improved outcomes for learners. This team will begin meeting with school board members, interacting with district and school-based personnel, reviewing current curricula related to core content, supplemental materials, and social-emotional learning, along with determining equitable access for all learners. The overall mission of this group will be to:

  • Review Accelerate Hillsborough and identify strategies for implementation;
  • Analyze student achievement outcomes and determine immediate areas of focus;
  • Determine the current climate, culture, and health of the overall organization;
  • Review organizational structures to identify unnecessary overlap and inefficiencies in order to create an intentional way of work moving forward;
  • Analyze the Achievement School Model to determine overall focus and critical supports;
  • Assess all instructional programs and curriculums to ensure alignment to the Florida Standards;
  • Review the current budget to determine alignment with the District’s Strategic Plan;
  • Analyze strategies and action plans for talent management in order to recruit, hire, and retain the best and brightest faculty and staff;
  • Review all systems and processes for School Choice to determine access and equity;
  • Assess the current communications and marketing plan for HCPS.

Through a coordinated and collaborative effort with current staff, this transition team will push our system to think differently and provide recommendations to help refine a robust strategic plan that will propel us toward a world-class educational experience for our families. At this time, I would like to introduce all members of my transition team:

Kim Bays Profile

Kim Bays

Kim Bays comes to Hillsborough County Public Schools with 22 years of education experience in Florida. Before arriving in Hillsborough County, she served as the Chief of Elementary Education for Clay County District Schools. Under her leadership in Clay County, the percentage of elementary schools earning the state grade of "A" increased by 55%, with a total of 17 of 27 "A" schools, and 24 schools earning a grade of "A" or "B". Simultaneously, Ms. Bays led the expansion of school choice options at the elementary level, through the launching and oversight of Cambridge Primary Programs at 3 schools, along with opening Clay County’s first School of the Arts, and increasing the scope of the district’s Montessori Program.

In addition to supervising the district’s elementary schools, Ms. Bays also served as the direct supervisor of the district’s Elementary Curriculum Specialists and Coaches. In this capacity, she was responsible for the oversight of curriculum development and alignment, as well as the implementation of professional development of Core and Tier I, II, and III instructional strategies for school administrators and teachers. Ms. Bays served as a direct conduit in addressing school needs with immediate, targeted district support.

Prior to her work in Clay County, Ms. Bays served in Duval County Public Schools, in the capacities of Executive Director of K-12 Science, Social Studies, & Fine Arts, and Region Superintendent. Under her Regional leadership, 89% of her schools increased in overall school grade calculation points. Additionally, Ms. Bays was the top performing principal Supervisor in the Insight Instructional Culture Survey, measuring Instructional Culture, Learning Environment, and Leadership.

Also within her educational repertoire is four years of experience as Principal of San Pablo Elementary School, leading the school to be academically ranked number two in Duval County and number ten in the state of Florida. She designed and built the school’s Health & Fitness Magnet Program, leading it to be the fastest-growing magnet program in the district. She also served for four years as Principal of Lake Forest Elementary School, a State Differentiated Accountability School, leading the school grade to be raised from an F to four points from a B. While at Lake Forest, she also led the oversight of a $2.4 million Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant for Arts Renovation and Integration.

Ms. Bays has experience in teaching and leadership at both the elementary and middle school levels, and was the Duval County Teacher of the Year in 2002. Although her first career was as a Civil and Mechanical Engineer, it was her passion for teaching and compassion for children that led her to change her professional path to education.

Born and raised in the Midwest, Ms. Bays has lived in the Jacksonville area for over 30 years, and has raised three sons through the public school system who are now successful young adults. She is known for her energy, enthusiasm, and her ability to motivate and inspire, and is looking forward to becoming an active member of the Tampa community.

Tracolya Clinch Profile

Tracolya Clinch

Dr. Tracolya Clinch has 15 years of experience in education and recently served as principal of Andrew Jackson High School in Duval County Public Schools. Under Dr. Clinch's leadership, Andrew Jackson once the lowest F high school in the state of Florida doubled enrollment, earned 3 consecutive "B" school grades, transformed into the district top STEM magnet and was awarded Microsoft Showcase School designation.

Dr. Clinch began her teaching career at Irwin County High School in Ocilla, Ga, where she also served as Head Girls Varsity Basketball Coach. After 4 years in the classroom, Dr. Clinch became a Performance Instructional Coach before working with the Florida Department of Education's Bureau of School Improvement as Instructional Specialist in the Differentiated Accountability division. While serving as instructional specialist, Dr. Clinch provided support in Duval County where she eventually served as Assistant Principal and Director of Secondary Science.

Dr. Clinch earned her specialist and doctorate degrees in Educational Leadership. She received a master's degree in Adult Education and a bachelor’s degree in Science Education. She has a six year old son and four year old daughter.

Terry Connor Profile

Terry Connor

Terry Connor mostly recently served as the Chief Academic Officer for Clay County District Schools. During his tenure, the District attained its highest graduation rates and increased its overall state ranking to 8th from 20th as measured by the state accountability system. Mr. Connor led the effort to expand choice options at every level, which resulted in greater access to acceleration coursework for underrepresented subgroups. Additionally, Mr. Connor served as a principal supervisor curating leadership development opportunities for principals, assistant principals, and aspiring leaders with the organization. As Chief Academic Officer, Mr. Connor was responsible for several areas, including K-12 curriculum and instruction, instructional materials, federal programs, school improvement, leadership development, adult education, career and technical education, professional development, school choice, ELL support, and principal supervisor.

Before serving in Clay County, Mr. Connor served as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal (middle and high school) in Duval County. As a school-based leader, Mr. Connor has experience in Title 1 and Non-Title 1 settings and has successfully improved outcomes as measured by increased graduation rates and school grades.

Doretha Edgecomb

Doretha Edgecomb

Doretha Wynn Edgecomb is a Tampa native who enjoyed 52 years as an educator – junior high school English teacher, Title I reading teacher, middle school learning specialist, high school tutorial teacher, secondary drug education coordinator, Coordinator, Title I Parent Involvement, Title I Reading Supervisor, and Elementary Principal in the Hillsborough County Public Schools. After retiring in 1966, she joined Educational Testing Service, as a trainer, program developer, and technical assistance advisor for schools, school districts, and departments of education in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She also taught in the USF College of Education. In 2004 she was elected to the District 5 seat on the Hillsborough County School Board and served three terms (2004 - 2016), and was elected vice chair of the board in 2010 and chair in 2011.

During her tenue on the board, she served as the District's representative on the Hillsborough County Children’s Board, Hillsborough County Juvenile Justice Board, and Hillsborough Education Foundation Board. Other leadership positions included serving on the REL-SE governing board at The Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) at FSU, board of directors, Florida School Boards Association, and Council of the Great City Schools. Today Edgecomb remains active in the community serving on the boards of the Hillsborough Education Foundation, Plant Museum, and the NOPE, Inc., advisory board.

Melissa Erickson Profile

Melissa Erickson

Melissa Erickson is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Alliance for Public Schools and holds an Ed.M. in curriculum and Instruction from Boston University. Melissa began her career as a Fellow for the National Science Foundation working on programs designed to increase the enrollment of women and minority students in secondary STEM courses. As a military spouse for over 20 years, Melissa relocated a number of times and held numerous positions related to education and public schools. Prior to establishing the Alliance, Melissa spent 5 years as the Academic Specialist for the Florida Kinship Center working with students in Hillsborough County Public Schools and then served as the School Programs Specialist for Family First supervising chapters of the All Pro Dad and iMOM programs across the nation. Melissa is recognized nationally as an expert in parent and community engagement having worked with National PTA, the Council of State Governments and the National Council on Disabilities on the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Additionally, Melissa has been called upon by the US Department of Education to collaborate on staff professional development and community engagement work in Florida related to turnaround schools. Selected as the sole parent representative to serve on the CAEP Commission on Accreditation of Teacher Preparatory Programs she helped craft the standard on clinical partnerships and practice. Melissa has received numerous awards for her work in education including being named a 2011 "Champion of Change" by the White House, a 2014 "American Graduate Champion" by WEDU and a Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero.

Rob Kriete Profile

Rob Kriete

Rob Kriete serves as the President of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, representing teachers and educational professionals. He is a veteran classroom teacher with 24 years of experience, all in Hillsborough County. Rob also is an executive board member of Hillsborough Education Foundation and serves on the Governance Board for the Florida Education Association. Additionally, Rob was the 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year at Eisenhower Middle and was a "teacherpreneur" with the Center for Teaching Quality in 2013-2014. Rob has been a writer and trainer for professional development in Hillsborough County and has had published articles in Education Weekly Teacher, an online professional periodical for educators.

Gwen Luney Profile

Gwen Luney

Gwendolyn L. Luney is a former assistant superintendent within the Hillsborough County School District. She retired in April of 2014. Gwen spent nearly 40 years serving with a passion for education in both Texas and Florida. She began making an impact in education in 1974 as a classroom educator and later the curriculum specialist at Bellamy, Baycrest and Chiaramonte Elementary Schools. Shortly thereafter, she entered into Assistant Principalship at Dunbar Sixth Grade Center, where she focused on the needs and development of her students until 1992. It was that year that Gwen became Principal of Just Sixth Grade Center, where she developed a neighborhood resource center for inner city and low income families. In addition, she leveraged her talent for developing curriculum to craft a program for students that did not quality for gifted. This program was adopted by other centers within the county. In 1997, Gwen opened Walker Middle School in Odessa, Florida and generated strong relationships with her staff, and the community of parents and students. Gwen was chosen as Middle School Principal of the Year during her tutelage at Walker.

Gwen decided in 1999 to expand her reach and talents to further programs within the district. She became the Assistant Superintendent for Student Services and Federal Programs. Within this role she was responsible for the Title I Grant, oversight of student services to include student nutrition, early childhood education, headstart and support functions such as psychologists, nurses and counselors, among other responsibilities. Gwen worked diligently in this role to raise the bar of low performing schools.

After retiring in 2014, Gwen quickly realized that her passion for education and desire to support Hillsborough county was still enduring. She has assisted in executing a more robust tutor program for Hunters Green Elementary and presently mentors students at Wharton High School. She also supports various foundations and programs and connects with others through several mentorships. She currently serves on the board of Frameworks, Inc, a non-for-profit organization that supports social and emotional learning in the school district.

Gwen is married and has two daughters, and four grandchildren who she enjoys spending quality time with.

Michael Kemp Profile

Michael Kemp

Dr. Kemp has devoted more than 30 years to the field of education and has developed a regional reputation for transforming under-performing schools and districts in the Southeastern United States. Incorporating a culture of high-expectations, results-oriented standards-based strategies, and technology integration, Dr. Kemp has been able to replicate success improving school performance. As a result of high performance, Dr. Kemp has been a requested presenter at GAEL – Georgia Association of Educational Leadership, GLISI – Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement, NTEC – National Technology Education Conference, and GSBA – Georgia School Boards Association, along with numerous presentations in Alabama and Florida.

As a practitioner, Dr. Kemp became a highly desired speaker in the areas of: district culture, standards-based belief systems, school accountability, student achievement, technology integration, school-based performance incentives, and has consulted more than 45 districts in the area of standards-based online credit recovery processes and programs.

Dr. Kemp began his career in the classroom as an exceptional education teacher in Jacksonville, Florida, where his passion for creating high expectations and closing the “opportunity gap” was initiated. He has served at every level of school-based administrative assistant principal, vice-principal, and more than 14 years principal experience at the middle and high school level. While serving in his last principalship at Gainesville High School, a Title I, majority/minority school, Dr. Kemp received numerous awards and recognitions including a nomination from his superiors for Georgia Principal of the Year for successfully closing subgroup achievement gaps and leading his school from 90th to 6th in the state in first-time performance on Georgia’s high-stakes graduation assessment. He served as the Assistant Superintendent for Student Achievement for Glynn County Schools in Brunswick, Georgia and through the implementation of effective processes led the system to double digit gains in light of increased accountability requirements. Dr. Kemp served as Vice President for Educational Services with Information Transport Solutions where he was directly involved in leading superintendents, central and school-based leadership with effective processes to transform K-12 schools in the Southeastern United States.

Prior to his current appointment as Assistant Superintendent for Operations in Clay County, he served as Assistant Superintendent of Technology Services in Bibb County, GA where he focused on improving infrastructure, technology equity and access in all schools leveling the playing field for every student. Dr. Kemp’s career district experience has included direct oversight of: principal supervision, curriculum and instruction; research, accountability and assessment; media services, technology infrastructure, instructional technology, capital programs, facility, planning and construction; code enforcement, support services, food and nutrition services; transportation, school police, and, school safety and security efforts.

Dr. Kemp earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of North Florida, Masters of Arts in Teaching in Educational Leadership from Jacksonville University; and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. He currently resides in Saint Johns, Florida with his wife, Terri, and three children Chandler (25), Garrett (22) and Ashlynn (18).

Micheal McAuley Profile

Micheal McAuley

Micheal McAuley is an innovative leader with 27 years in teaching and learning from pre-k to higher education. His experiences include district and state level work, as well as national and international lecturing and consulting. Mr. McAuley has maintained practice as a school psychologist at the district level, and as an educator and trainer of graduate students in psychology, social work, mental health, and educational practices at the university level. He was part of the Global Autism Public Health initiative through the United Nations in 2012 where he lectured and consulted on Developmental Disorders and educational systems in South Asia, and has served as an Executive Director in Duval County, Assistant Superintendent in Clay County, and the Florida Department of Education leading areas such as assessment, differentiated accountability, student services, information technology, specialized instruction, and safety and security. Mr. McAuley was instrumental in developing systems of support for student engagement in both Duval County and Clay County school systems where he managed multiple departments responsible for community mental health partnerships, PBIS and student engagement practices, drop-out prevention models, school support mechanisms, and analytic dashboards. Mr. McAuley’s success is predicated on his servant leadership philosophy and belief that helping students means supporting and developing the adults that influence student outcomes.

Ken Otero Profile

Ken Otero

Ken Otero is a native of Tampa where he attended Hillsborough County Public Schools and graduated from Hillsborough High School. Mr. Otero received a BA degree from the University of South Florida in Secondary Education and a MA degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Tampa.

Mr. Otero began his career in education 1975 as a Social Studies Teacher and Coach at Plant High School. While there he also served as Assistant Principal for Student Affairs and Assistant Principal for Administration before being named principal of Sligh Middle School and Tampa Bay Technical High School, respectively. He left Tampa Bay Technical High School to serve as the General Director of Secondary Education. He later served as the General Director for Area VII schools, Assistant Superintendent for Administration, and Chief of Staff before retiring in 2013 as the Deputy Superintendent. Mr. Otero currently spends time fishing, traveling with his wife and spending time with his children and grandchildren.

Valerie Orihuela Profile

Valerie Orihuela

Proud to have contributed to the legacy of the 7th largest public school district in the nation, Valerie J. Orihuela is a former Area Leadership Director for Area I, with Hillsborough County Public Schools. She taught for two years in the private school sector before starting in 1974, her 38 year journey of dedicated service in public education with Hillsborough County Public Schools. She served the district as a Teacher, Primary Specialist, Curriculum Specialist and an Assistant Principal. Mrs. Orihuela continued to lead as the Principal of Orange Grove 6th Grade Center and Principal of Carrollwood Elementary School. A highlight of her career, was being named in 1998, the first Principal of the newly built Harold H. Clark Elementary School. She was appointed in 2004 to a district level position, Director of Administration. The following year she became the Area Leadership Director for Area I schools, a position she held until her retirement in 2013. A tireless educator and leader Valerie always made decisions based on what was best for all students, teachers, the 35 principals she supervised and all the communities she served. She instilled in her leaders her strong beliefs in the importance of developing positive school cultures along with continuously setting data driven high expectations for increased student achievement. Mrs. Oriheula is proud of many accomplishments throughout her career, but especially of being selected in 2003 as a Florida finalist for the National Distinguished Principals Program. She served as President of the Hillsborough County Elementary Principals Council and also was selected as Principal of the Year by the Hillsborough County Council of PTA – PTSA in 2004.

Valerie earned a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education, a master's degree in Elementary Education and certification in Administration and Supervision all from the University of South Florida. A native Floridian, she was born and raised in Tampa, Florida where she currently resides with her husband Ralph of 47 years. They are proud parents of Ryan, Kevin and Lauren and were recently blessed with the birth of their first grandchild. Valerie enjoys reading, interior decorating, being an enthusiastic fan of our local sports teams and spending time with family and friends.

Cathy Valdes Profile

Cathy Valdes

Cathy Valdes is a native of Tampa, Florida and a retired Hillsborough County Public Schools Educator. During her 42 year tenure in the school district, she served as teacher, principal, area director, assistant superintendent (Chief Facilities Officer) and deputy superintendent. Since her retirement in 2015, Cathy has continued to seek out opportunities to serve the youth of our community through a myriad of volunteer efforts. She serves on the Conn Memorial Foundation Board of Directors, the Tampa Metro YMCA Governance Board, and the Advisory Board of OASIS Network. As the president of NOPE (Narcotics Overdose Prevention Education), Cathy is part of the NOPE team, giving presentations to middle and high school students and parents throughout Hillsborough County about the dangers of youth drug use and drug overdose. In November, 2019, Cathy was recognized as a Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero recipient.

Dr. Samuel Lamar Write, Sr. Profile

Dr. Samuel Lamar Wright, Sr.

Dr. Samuel Lamar Wright, Sr., the only son born to the late Samuel Louis and Rovina Deal Wright of Boynton Beach, was educated in Palm Beach County public schools. He earned degrees from the University of Florida and the University of South Florida.

Dr. Wright has had the pleasure of working in government and the State University System. While in Palm Beach County, he worked for the Board of County Commissioners in the Community Action Agency, and in Tampa he worked 27.5 years for the University of South Florida (USF). He became known for his unparalleled ability to recruit students of color to the University of South Florida as its Director of Multicultural Admissions. Upon completing his doctorate in 1999, he served as the Associate Dean of Student and Parent Relations, Director of Multicultural Affairs and Student Ombudsman, respectively. Part-time, he taught as an adjunct professor in the Department of Africana Studies.

In February 2013, he retired after 35 years in the Florida Retirement System and was highlighted in the Congressional Record by Congresswoman Kathy Castor for his contributions both to USF and the Tampa Bay community. He is an iconic figure in the Tampa community because of his enduring commitment to students. The legacy he leaves at USF will be cherished for many years. He is credited with changing the dynamics of the campus for non-majority students in a most positive way and because of that the Black Alumni Society gives awards in his name each year.

Since his retirement, Dr. Wright has become an entrepreneur and established the Dr. Samuel L. Wright Consulting, LLC. Most of his work has been with Hillsborough Community College, where he serves as the Project Consultant for the Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service and CDC of Tampa, Inc.

At an early age, Dr. Wright accepted his calling as a freedom fighter. He fought for progress in his schools and continued the quest for justice at UF. In 1980, he was the first black to be elected to Boynton Beach City Council. After relocating to Tampa, he saw a cultural void and founded the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival in 1999. He has held leadership positions in organizations such as the NAACP, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Hillsborough County Government, and Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Association. Currently, he serves as a board member for several local organizations in the Bay Area, including the Community Action Board and the Dr. MLK Parade Foundation, Inc. At the state level, he is a member of the African American History Task Force and a gubernatorial appointee to the Board of Directors of the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers. Dr. Wright is an honorary member of Florida Blue Key and is listed in many editions of Who's Who in Black America.

Dr. Wright is a phenomenal speaker and a baritone vocalist. He has received numerous awards for his service to people from all walks of life. He is the father of two adult children: Samuel Lamar, Jr. and Samaria Elizabeth.

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