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Greco’s New Principal Prepares for School Year

Yinka Alege’s No. 1 priority is to create an environment in which students enjoy coming to school.

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.

Pam Devoid July 18, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Pissed off resident! Greco should be shut down. It is a horrible school with excessive bullying. My nephew went there last year he was bullied repeatedly with no repercussion to the bullies. I am ashamed that school is even located in the City of Temple Terrace all it does is give us a bad name. The staff of Greco should be ashamed for their lack of concern for the student’s safety. FYI, my nephew will not be returning and Greco and the school board should consider themselves lucky we are not suing them for failure to enforce the zero tolerance on bullying. Not only did they fail to enforce the zero tolerance for bullying, they failed to notify my nephew's guardians that it happened at all. I would not recommend to anyone to send their child to Greco.
Temple Terrace resident July 18, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Admittedly, Greco has A LONG WAY to go to become acceptable for Temple Terrace residents. I think something drastic is in order to turn this place around, is Temple Terrace up for it?
Cyndi Roberts Mohler July 18, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Now is not the time to give up. Hillsborough County Schools are struggling. Temple Terrace schools are struggling. As a collective community, our residents are probably more aware of the successes and failures of our City schools. The State has raised expectations and neither the teachers nor the students have been given a chance to catch up to those new expectations. Now is the time to actively support our schools. What can you do to help Greco, Riverhills, etc? I would hope that each person reading this would consider volunteering at his/her children's school or neighborhood school. It's rewarding for the volunteer and definitely benefits the students, both academically and socially. With the appointment of Mr. Alege at Greco, I am optimistic that the climate and performance at Greco will change for the better. Can one man change the school? No. He is going to need help - OUR help.
Temple Terrace resident July 18, 2012 at 03:29 PM
I hope that Mr. Alege can start a turn-around, but it's my suspicion that it's "the system" that's broken. Temple Terrace has been dealing with poor schools for a long time.
Another Temple Terrace Resident July 18, 2012 at 03:47 PM
My daughter goes to Greco in the STEM program they have there. She has had fabulous teachers that are preparing her for the future. She has had an excellent experience and will be returning next year. I would not hesitate to recommend Greco STEM for anyone. One of the previous commenters recommended residents volunteering in the school as a step to improving the school. My church has had a program tutoring and mentoring in an inner city school for the last 3 years that has made a tremendous impact on the school and it's community. If, as a city, we can take a more involved role with our schools, everyone will benefit.
Temple Terrace resident July 18, 2012 at 04:18 PM
This sounds kind of like the IB program at King High. How does a student get into the STEM program? It'd be great to have the entire school academically excellent, rather than a small A population in an otherwise F school. No matter what you do the small amount of great STEM / IB students can't compensate for the rest of the school per school grade.
Pam Devoid July 18, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I don’t know about the stem program, but the IB program at King is an excellent program, it is also a completely isolated program from the rest of the school with little interaction with those outside of the program. As far as regular classes at King and Greco Bullying is a huge issue. Greco is no longer a safe school for our children that attend regular classes and the school system needs to take responsibility. This has nothing to do with mentoring or parent involvement but it has everything to do with our children’s safety on a daily basis. And the schools responsibility to enforce the zero tolerance on bullying. Something is going to happen and then they will want to do something, typical too little too late. Temple Terrace needs to stand up to the school district and get our city straight, no matter what the cost, because with poor schools we will never rebuild our community no matter what new buildings we erect. People will relocate to “A” rated school areas. I have no faith that Greco will turn around anytime soon, so my nephew will not be returning to a school that finds him cornered, being bullied and fails to punish the bullies or contact my nephew’s parents. Poor school leaders with no regard for our children’s feelings or safety, no wonder the private schools are doing so well in Tampa.
Temple Terrace resident July 18, 2012 at 08:06 PM
This is an excellent take on our TT area schools, and what's at stake. "Something is going to happen and then they will want to do something, typical too little too late." This appears to be what we're waiting for. Our schools and revitalization are inextricably linked. What we're currently saying is if you move to TT, you better have money for a private school, enough good luck to get in a charter via lottery, or the grades to get in King IB. Otherwise....well.....
Elizabeth A. Leib July 18, 2012 at 11:02 PM
I guess we all do what we can. The Temple Terrace Community Garden group is actively reaching out to involve parents in the garden at Riverhills Elementary. And we're exploring setting up a community garden at Greco. www.templeterracecommunitygarden.com.
Pam Devoid July 20, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Elizabeth while that is nice that the Garden Club is making an effort, our schools are far beyond parent participation and gardens. And yes to the Temple Terrace Resident if you move to Temple Terrace and value your children's education and safety you will be using one of the Charter, Magnet, IB or private school options. The involvement at this point needs to be between parents, residents and the Hillsborough County School Board! We have allowed this to happen and we will have to fight for the change, another reason to vote for Rimbey and Vance for Council and Chillura for Mayor they will fight the school system for change. I grew up in Temple Terrace, went to Riverhills, Lomax, Florida College Academy, Greco and King. But those schools that I attended are not the same schools today, it makes me sick to see what is happening in our city and we better get smart and change it or no new construction will save us from the people relocating to New Tampa, South Tampa, Carrollwood, etc. for the “A” rated schools that DO NOT allow bullying. I would never put my child at risk that is why I do not recommend Greco or King to any parent
Ahmber Burgess August 07, 2012 at 03:23 PM
If we look to our past and only use that to construct the ideals of our present, well then, we will end up with a future that is just as the present, and the past. The future is occurring every moment you breathe. If you want change to come then do it, begin it as you want it to be and live it. I have great faith in our schools. I teach all over the Tampa Bay area and the issues that some believe are non existent in charter and private schools, are just as prevalent. If you must look to the past for your answers to the problems of today then this question is for you: Is it more important to get what you want, or to want what you already have. Let love guide your actions. Love is a much better carrot than hate.

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