Almost 125 teachers new to the South Tampa area got a royal welcome with breakfast, door prizes, goodie bags and words of praise.
Local community leaders, elected officials and business representatives focused on the importance of the educators’ work at the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s ninth annual New Teacher Welcome Breakfast at Palma Ceia Golf & Country Club on Aug. 14.
Making connections seemed to be the theme of the day for speakers who talked about connecting with the child, the parents, the businesses and the community.
“Sometimes that connection you make may unlock a child’s mind to invent something or put them on a career path,” Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman said.
School Superintendent MaryEllen Elia also echoed that idea.
“We need to make connections every day with every child,” she said.
Elia also said the new school year could be “stressful” because of changes in curriculum and testing, but she expected the end result would be a better school district.
The breakfast was one of six given throughout the county for teachers new to a specific geographic region, in an effort to acquaint them with their community.
“You are the most valuable resource to our community,” South Tampa Chamber President and CEO Kelly Flannery told the group. “You are guiding and developing the leaders of tomorrow.”
Principals were able to introduce their new teachers, who had come from internships, other states, other counties and other schools.
They even chided each other about who they had “stolen” from another school.
Marie Valenti, principal of Chiaramonte Elementary, in thanking the chamber, said, “Teachers are coming to our doors wanting to get interviews — not because of our wonderful schools but because of this breakfast.”
Hillsborough County School Board member Candy Olson, who represents South Tampa and is retiring this year, also was recognized at the breakfast.