Kristin Tonelli Ready to Lead Lewis Elementary
The new principal and 20-year education veteran said she is committed to taking time to listen and fostering teamwork.
Kristin Tonelli said she is excited about her new position as Lewis Elementary’s principal.
With less than three weeks to go before the start of school, she’s ready to leave her transition office at Greco Middle School for her new permanent home at Lewis.
“I’m looking forward to getting into our offices and having our school filled with kids and teachers,” she said.
Tonelli earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master’s degree in educational leadership from USF. She gained teaching experience during her student years by working as a student assistant in the athletic department.
“Most of my 20-plus years in education have been at the elementary level teaching and in administration,” she said.
After more than six years at Hunter’s Green Elementary in New Tampa, Tonelli said she’s looking forward to working for the benefit of the students at Lewis.
“In discussions about my moving to Lewis, it was clear to me that I had given all I could in moving Hunter’s Green forward,” she said. “At Lewis, I see similarities with Hunter’s Green — a strong parent base and great teachers. In accepting the position, I felt that I could take lessons learned and transfer that experience to Lewis.”
Tonelli replaces Cheryl Dafeldecker.
“Lewis is such a great school in a great position,” Tonelli said. “I imagine we’ll be making small tweaks to improve what is currently in place. I’d like to build communication so that we’re all working from the same page. ... We’re going to take our time, listen to everyone; we’re not going to make rushed decisions.”
Tonelli said that she understands and agrees with parent concerns regarding the school’s drop from an A to a B rating.
“It will be a clear goal of mine for me and the faculty to achieve an A grade,” she said. “Being an ‘A’ school confers a certain credibility. You want to be rewarded from the state for all the hard work everyone is doing.”
Sarah Jeffcoat is association executive director at Meeting Management Group and a Lewis mom.
“I’m excited about the new year at Lewis,” Jeffcoat said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about Mrs. Tonelli, and I’m looking forward to all the positive changes she’ll bring to Lewis.”
Temple Terrace Council member and past Lewis PTA President Alison Fernandez agreed.
“I think she’s going to do a great job,” Fernandez said.
Tonelli said the PTA is working together to find ways to reward kids without taking them out of their classrooms.
She said she believes many of the differences in the 2011-12 school year will result from bringing together school veterans with approximately 20 new staff.
“There’s a renewed sense of excitement when you bring people together and combine the best of old and new ideas. No one person can make it possible to fulfill the mission and goals we’re setting for Lewis—you have to have the support of your staff.”