Kayla Forcucci knew she wanted to be an educator since she was a teenager.
“I’ve been in a teaching role since I was 16 years old through church and community opportunities,” Forcucci said. “I always knew teaching was going to be my career path.
“There is great satisfaction that comes with learning, teaching others and positively impacting the lives of the children in our community.”
Forcucci’s latest opportunity has brought her back to the place where her career started. On April 23, the Hillsborough County School Board named her the new principal at Dover Elementary, replacing Marie Caracciolav, who was appointed as the school’s district’s director of early childhood and Hillsborough Out-of-School Time (HOST) programs.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education — and, eventually, a master’s degree — from the University of South Florida, Forcucci began her teaching career in 2000 at Dover Elementary. Forcucci taught second grade for three years and fourth grade for four years at Dover, which is affectionately known as “The World’s Best School” because of the caring atmosphere established by the staff, students and community support.
“Most of my career has been with Title 1 schools and my experience as a teacher leader at Dover prepared me for my time in administration,” she said. “I've had the fortune of working with a variety of principals, and I've grown as a leader by watching and listening to them use their strengths in schools.”
Following her teaching stint at Dover Elementary, Forcucci helped open Shiloh Charter School in Plant City, teaching fourth grade for one year before a year-and-a-half stint as an assistant principal. In January 2010, she was named assistant principal of Thonotosassa Elementary, where she remained until her latest appointment.
Forcucci, 35, said she has received a warm welcome at her new/old school and is ready to hit the ground running.
“We are getting information ready for summer programs while ensuring quality and rigorous instruction continues in the classrooms,” she said. “We are also planning for the next school year.”
The ultimate goal is to reinforce Dover Elementary’s standing in the community. The school dates back to 1870, but has been at its current site since 1950.
“The goal is to maintain — or reaffirm — the relationship we have with our community as the ‘World's Best School,’” Forcucci said. “We will improve our math scores, regularly review our data so we can impact curriculum and instruction, and continue doing the things that help our parents feel comfortable coming to our school.”