It doesn’t usually happen in the middle of the school year, but Miami Springs Senior High School has been going through a big transition over the last few weeks because of a change at the top.
Tom Ennis, who took over as principal at MSSH in September 2008, left to take the same position at Miami Killian two weeks ago. But it was hardly your average transition.
Thanks to a school board system that can be a little less than organized and on the same page at times, there was no new principal to replace him. In the interim, Ennis commuted back and forth to both schools initially before eventually assistant principals Tony Saunders, Robert Palma and Sonia Romero took over the day-to-day school operations while the school board continued its interviews in an effort to fill the position.
Numerous names came up during the process, but finally last week Anna Rodriguez was named the new principal at Springs.
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And it was a significant moment.
It marks the first time since Springs opened its doors in 1965 that a female principal will occupy the head desk.
“I’m ecstatic and looking forward to coming in to continue the rich tradition of excellence that has been established at this school over the decades,” Rodriguez said Monday morning. “I’m looking forward to taking over and leading this school to the next level of success.”
Success is something Rodriguez is familiar with. After starting off as an assistant principal at JFK Middle school for five years and Krop Senior High School for one, she took over as principal at Ponce De Leon Middle School in Coral Gables in September 2006 and raised the school 49 points in the FCAT scale over the last five years. With that, Ponce De Leon became the fifth-ranked middle school in the county.
Now Rodriguez, a 1990 graduate of Hialeah High School who went on to attend the University of Miami before getting a Master’s in Education at FIU, finds herself in a similar situation as Ennis.
Her replacement at Ponce De Leon has still not been finalized and, as the interview process goes on, she finds herself handling two different jobs.
“I’m mostly here at Springs now and trying to handle my middle school duties via the phone,” said Rodriguez. “I think they’ll have someone in place very soon and I’ll be able to get settled into my new surroundings.”
“A very emotional time for me,” said Ennis, who applied for the opening over the summer. “It was simply a geography thing as I live down in the Southwest and the daily commute was tough. I’ll always be grateful to the community of Miami Springs for its support and I’ll always be a Hawk.”