Marlene Sokol, Hillsborough Schools Reporter

Marlene Sokol

Hillsborough Schools Reporter

I’ve been a journalist since 1983 at newspapers all over Florida. After 15 years as an editor in the Tampa suburbs I was assigned to cover the Hillsborough public school system, the same one that gave my two children a great education. That last part didn't happen by itself. I was an active volunteer and believe schools should accommodate parents' busy schedules. I’m not a fan of the 3 p.m. parent conference or 10 a.m. PTA meeting! On weekends I play tennis and volunteer at a youth soccer program. Call or email me with your tips about the schools. I use Facebook for family and Twitter for self-promotion. But I prefer my conversations one-on-one.

McLane fire struck seventh-grade classrooms

A view from a drone captures the scene at McLane Middle School in Brandon, where a fire destroyed a two-story building in the middle of the campus over the weekend. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]
School district officials are surveying the damage with three weeks left before school starts.

Equity in Hillsborough schools: Can it be achieved?

Ariel Bell, 26, attended Van Buren Middle School for sixth grade. He will return to the school, now part of Van Buren K-8, to teach music this year. “They’re talking about everything; they're not afraid of anything,” he said of the school district's training for new teachers, which focuses on kids in poverty. [MARLENE SOKOL   |   Times]
The school district is changing leaders, just as several ambitious initiatives are getting underway to help low-income students.

‘He makes you believe you can do everything.’ Tampa’s Dakeyan Graham is Florida’s Teacher of the Year

The King High music teacher dazzles in song and word.

State orders new operator for four Hillsborough schools

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran [CHRIS URSO  | Times]
Oak Park and Foster Elementary can remain with Phalen Leadership Academies, the current operator.

Gradebook podcast: How to improve Hillsborough County schools?

Rachael O'Dea, principal of Forest Hills Elementary School, interviewed a prospective teacher during a hiring fair for the Achievement Schools on June 18, 2018. Some of the 50 long-struggling schools battled teaching shortages. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times, 2018]
The Florida Board of Education will discuss turnaround plans for several district schools that have continued to struggle.