My name is Eileen Long and I am running for re-election to the Pinellas County School Board. I moved to Pinellas when I was 15 years old from the Western suburbs of Chicago. I graduated from Seminole High School in 1979 and went on to SPJC and then USF where I got my degree in Special Education. I began my teaching career in Hillsborough County and after two years came to Pinellas. I began in Pinellas at 16th St. Middle School and Child’s Park Fundamental. The next year I went to Oak Grove Middle where I worked for 13 years. I taught self-contained ESE and then became the first VE Specialist at the school. I was responsible for beginning inclusion of special education students into the general education classroom. At Oak Grove, I met my husband Robert. Robert is a math teacher at Osceola Middle School and a veteran of the United States Army. We have been married 21 years and have two wonderful children. Our daughter is at USF in the Judy Genshaff Honors College. She is working on her undergraduate in Biomedical Sciences with an infectious control minor and wants to become a Rheumatologist. Our son is a sophomore in the Fundamental Program at Dunedin High School and plays on the JV Basketball Team. We have two furry children Mimi and Memphis who are both Shih Tzu’s. We have lived in Dunedin for 21 years and enjoy the businesses and people of our community.
I taught for 33 years before being elected to the school board in 2016. I have recently been elected by my peers to be co-chairman of the board which I am eager to learn more about and hope to lead by example. While teaching at Clearwater Intermediate I added Reading and ESOL to my certificate. I have had a very fulling career as an educator and feel I was so blessed to work with such wonderful students over the years. I was and remain very passionate about meeting the needs of every student who walked into my classroom and believe that as a teacher you must build strong relationships with your students and their families to develop trust and understanding. I truly looked at each day as a new challenge and hoped that I might be able to positively influence a young life.
Robert and I feel strongly that as parents we must be active in our children’s lives. I was PTSA secretary at PHUHS when my daughter attended the IB as well as an IB Booster member who helped with book sales for the incoming freshman. My husband Robert has served for several years in SAC at Clearwater Fundamental and now as SAC at Dunedin High. He is also the “basketball dad” for the team. Last year we served as the team parents and we worked the concession stand for every game.
Upon joining the School Board I became very active with the Martin Luther King Scholarship and Events Foundation in Tarpon Springs. I have worked on the parade committee getting our schools more involved and last year organized the first MLK Breakfast with my fellow MLK board member and good friend Carmen Wilson-Lake.
We are actively planning this year’s breakfast which we think will even be more enjoyable than last year. The schools are actively participating as well.
I have also sat on the Homeless Leadership Board which gave me an understanding of how to help families who receive Section 8 but do not know how to maneuver the system. I also serve on the ESE Advisory Committee helping to increase communication between school and parents. I also currently sit on the PCS Safety Committee which I am passionate about keeping our schools safe.
One of the things I am most proud of is the relationships with the municipal governing bodies in Tarpon Springs and Dunedin. Dunedin schools needed a fresh new identity. I began working with Heather Gracy, Dunedin Commissioner and Dr. Grego, along with the administrative teams at each Dunedin school. The Project is called Growing Greatness in Dunedin.
In the last two years I have worked with realtors to learn what buyers want to see in our schools. Each Dunedin school has developed a video of the incredible things that are happening at their school. This is helping showcase the wonderful assets Dunedin has to offer. I am going to advocate similar strategies in Tarpon Springs and continue throughout my area.
Robert and I support Wounded Warriors and local organizations like Goodwill. I love to garden, read and spend time with my husband and children. I cannot begin to express how honored I am to serve on the Pinellas County School Board. I believe that making our schools as strong as possible benefits everyone who lives here.