Yinka Alege is on cloud nine.
Just 10 years into his career in the academic world, the 31-year-old has settled in as ’s new principal, a position he assumed on April 30.
“It’s like reaching a goal I’ve always had,” said Alege, a Dallas, Texas, native and son of Nigerian-born parents who relocated to Valrico when he was a youngster and enrolled him in the Hillsborough County public school system.
It was during his years at Durant High in which its then top administrators—namely the late Ron Frost, Sherrie Sikes and Carla Bruning—so positively impacted his life that Alege decided to follow in their footsteps.
Following his graduation in 2002 from the with a degree in English, he soon landed his first job as an English/language arts teacher at , an assignment that lasted three years.
During that time, Alege also taught a program at USF called Project Upward Bound, geared specifically for high school students. He also earned his master’s degree in educational leadership.
In 2005, he was appointed assistant principal of student affairs at Middleton High, a position he had until his return to King in 2007 as assistant principal of curriculum. He functioned in that capacity until his recent promotion.
“I think the role of curriculum leader is probably the biggest job in our schools in Hillsborough County,” said Alege, noting it requires developing course schedules and securing the necessary textbooks for every student, including those enrolled in advanced and remedial programs.
The position, he added, also necessitates being fiscally responsible.
“I feel a lot of pressure has been lifted off of me, but it makes me so much more prepared to be a principal,” he said.
Alison Fernandez, Greco’s PTA president, agrees.
“I think that he’s a great fit for Greco,” she said. “He knows what students need to prepare them for high school.”
Alege’s first priority is to create a family atmosphere and one in which the sixth-through-eighth graders like coming to school.
Prior to their parents taking a vote on whether to institute the school’s new mandatory uniform policy, he made sure the kids bought into the idea.
“It was an effort to cultivate that culture of the students wanting to be here,” Alege said.
Toward that same end and as a result of conversations with students, he also established a VIP area in the cafeteria where small groups of students can go to stretch out on the sofas, surf the Internet and play video games.
In an effort to improve upon Greco’s D rating for the 2011-12 school year due to the student body’s below standard performance on the FCAT exams, Alege also has been instrumental in hiring academic coaches to assist children in need of extra help.
“You’ve got to kick things into gear,” he said. “The D school scenario is just like at King a few years ago, and look how it was able to turn itself around.”
Grateful to the Temple Terrace community for its support and confident in his ability to create a can-do spirit among students, faculty and staff, Alege is optimistic about the school’s future.
“‘Mission Possible’ is our mission next year,” he said.
Michael Rowan, King High’s principal who’s worked closely with Alege, said he believes Alege will be a “wonderful” addition to Greco.
“He is dedicated to creating an environment that is welcoming to the students and parents, and he is driven to help Greco become one of the top academic middle schools in Hillsborough County,” Rowan said.