TAMPA PALMS — Chiles Elementary School Principal Teresa Evans is happy to be back home.
The new principal is quite familiar with the brightly-lit halls of the two-story classroom building on Tampa Palms Boulevard West.
As a charter member of the Chiles teaching staff, Evans fondly recalls exchanging laughs and consoling apprehensive parents when they dropped off their children on the first day of school in August 2001.
“It feels very much like coming home,” Evans said.
The New Tampa resident is returning to Chiles as the Hillsborough County School District introduces a new education system called Common Core and increases student achievement goals. Hillsborough public schools open Tuesday.
She is excited for the opportunity to lead the school through a period of change.
“It feels good,” said Evans, who taught second and third grade at Chiles from 2001 to 2005, “I worked for all of the previous three principals (at Chiles), and I knew half of the staff.”
Evans, 55, replaces Kim Pietsch, who received a school district appointment this summer to serve as a coach and adviser to new principals in Northwest Hillsborough. Pietsch had been the principal at Chiles since 2008.
Chiles’ students are accustomed to performing well in the classroom and on Florida’s Comprehensive Academic Test. The school has received an A every year since the state began its school grading system.
Tom Dessy, the school’s first principal, opened its doors in August 2001. Chiles has flourished under the leadership of Shari Beaubien followed by Pietsch.
“We want to keep that A,” Evans said this week. “We want to meet the needs of all our students.”
Chiles administrators and teachers adhere to a holistic approach to achieve success, she said. Teachers, working in teams, thrive to provide all students with guidance and adequate classroom instruction they need to excel.
Evans taught at Hunter’s Green and Pride elementary schools before Chiles opened in 2001. She transferred to Lockhart Middle Magnet School to serve as a Title 1 resource teacher in 2005.
She has served as an assistant principal at Rampello Downtown Partnership School and Dunbar Elementary Magnet School.
“My experience at Title 1 schools and Rampello K-8 gives me a different kind of perspective than I had when I was here before,” Evans said.
Evans, who is divorced, is the mother of two adult daughters and also is a grandmother. She holds a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from Western Kentucky University and did graduate work in historic preservation planning at the University of Illinois.
Evans earned a master’s degree in elementary education and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from the University of South Florida.
“I think she is a great fit for this school,” Chiles fifth-grade teacher Michelle Carmen said.
Carmen and Evans were both resource teachers at Lockhart when Pietsch was the principal there. Evans specialized in reading; Carmen’s area of interest was math and science.
Carmen praised Evans for helping to guide new teachers and offering suggestions on how teachers could better communicate with students.
Chiles first grade teacher Lynn Goodwin, who also worked with Evans at Lockhart, said she admired Evans’ work ethic.
“She was a hard worker and that is all I care about,” Goodwin said. “We work hard in this industry to move children forward. I think that is so important. Whatever we needed, she was with us.”
Caring for teachers is a part of the culture Evans learned when she taught at Chiles, Evans said. New teachers at Chiles are immediately embraced and made to feel welcome.
“I want to continue the tradition of excellence here in a very inclusive way,” Evans said. “I want everybody to be a part of it.”