RIVERVIEW – When math teacher Danielle Shotwell transferred to Riverview High School in 1998 as one of its charter faculty members, she had no clue she’d become its principal 16 years later. But yesterday as the new school year began, she was out in the halls greeting students as their new leader.
Shotwell, 40, replaces longtime principal Bob Heilman, who retired in August.
“I don’t feel like I’ll be trying to fill his shoes,” Shotwell said of her friend and mentor. “He was the assistant principal when I first came here. I feel more like he’s passed the baton to me to carry on the tradition he started.”
Not that her presence won’t be felt.
“My focus right now is on maintaining the momentum established here and continuing to connect with the community,” Shotwell said, adding that one of her main responsibilities is to “make sure the school continues to be one the community is proud of.”
She is both pleased and proud to have been chosen to lead the Sharks.
“There have only been two other principals here – Vince Thompson and Bob Heilman – and I consider them both mentors,” Shotwell said. “I think my jobs at Bloomingdale (High School) and Eisenhower (Middle School) fully prepared me for this one. I know this community, and I understand how special Riverview High School is. It’s like coming home.”
Shotwell will use her warm, engaging leadership style to create a supportive environment for both teachers and students. She feels blessed to be have inherited a strong support staff and faculty of about 150 teachers who love the school, care about the almost 2,400 students and are committed to its family atmosphere.
The new Head Shark is well qualified for the role.
Originally from Marlborough, Mass., Shotwell graduated from East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs in 1991. She earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics in 1996 from the University of South Florida and began her teaching career at Brandon High School, where she was also coached varsity cheerleading and track. Continuing her education while working, she earned a master’s in educational leadership in 2000 and a post-graduate degree as an educational specialist in 2010, both from USF.
Shotwell taught math from 1996 to 2001 at Brandon, Sickles and Riverview high schools before being promoted to assistant principal for student affairs at Bloomingdale High. In 2004 she was named the school’s assistant principal of administration. Then, in 2012, she was named principal of Eisenhower Middle School.
Shotwell and her husband, Jeff, who was also part of Riverview High School’s charter faculty and is now a student success specialist at Newsome High School, live in River Hills with their 6-year-old son, J.J. In her “spare” time, she enjoys sports, the beach and spending time with her family.