Growing up, the siblings were separated by six years.
Today, the places they work are six miles apart. It’s just 10 minutes down the road from the brother’s office to the sister’s.
They never dreamed they’d end up doing the same thing for a living.
One has 1,200 kids. The other has twice that many – 2,400.
Meet Tim Ducker and Carla Bruning, brother and sister who both are principals in the Hillsborough County school district. And they’re not the only sibling duo to lead schools – Denyse Riveiro and Michael Hoskinson are two others who have made it a family affair.
Ducker is the leader of Mulrennan Middle in Valrico, while Bruning is principal at Newsome High in Lithia. Riveiro is the top administrator at MacFarlane Park Elementary Magnet and Hoskinson leads Coleman Middle.
All are A schools as graded by the state Department of Education.
All four grew up in South Tampa and went to different public schools in Hillsborough County. They pursued higher education and came back home first to teach, then to lead schools as principals.
Bruning and Ducker have been with the school district for 28 years. They both started out as science teachers – her at Gaither High, him at Eisenhower Middle.
She always knew she wanted to be in education, him not so much.
“I always loved school,” said Bruning, who’s 55. “And not necessarily the classes, I just liked the social part. It was a fun place for me. I hated to miss school.”
When Ducker, the younger of the two at 49, was growing up, he wanted to be a professional baseball player. More specifically, a shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds.
“That didn’t work out so much,” Ducker said. “Dave Concepcion had that one locked up.”
“I wish he would have been, he would have made a lot more money,” his older sister said, laughing. “Then he could support me.”
The two grew up with plenty of parental support. Their father worked at MacDill Air Force Base, their mother spent 27 years with the school district working as a kindergarten aide.
Leslie Ducker, who is 89, still has a photograph on her refrigerator of the two from seven years ago when each was honored as top principal in the county – her son for middle school, her daughter for high school.
“I’m very proud of them,” their mother said. “I think they both do a good job.”
According to mom, the two didn’t fight like cats and dogs as some siblings do when they were growing up with their brother, Steve, who works in the medical field.
“They argued just like any brother and sister would, but for the most part they got along very well,” their mother said. “They argued over who was going to clean up the table or who was going to do the dishes.”
Now, they pick each other’s brains on school-related matters and remind one another that certain tasks need to be done.
The same is true of Riveiro and Hoskinson, whose father also worked at MacDill.
They talk about what’s going on at the other’s school and borrow concepts from one another.
“She will call me or I will call her,” said Hoskinson, who has been at Coleman for seven years. “We share a lot of ideas.”
“We bring each other our experiences and we collaborate with one another,” said Riveiro, who has led MacFarlane since 2006. “We know what drives us.”
Riveiro, 51, was the sixth of eight children in the family; Hoskinson, 48, was the baby of the bunch.
“Because we had so many brothers and sisters, we would share a room,” Riveiro said. “He always liked to be in my room because I would sing to him.”
And bake for him, too, in her Easy Bake oven.
She’d also write plays and he would be the character she wanted him to be. But he would do it in his own style.
Oh, and they wrestled occasionally. She would get him in a leg lock and squeeze him like a python until he couldn’t breathe.
“We’ve always been very close,” Hoskinson said.
He’s his sister’s biggest fan.
“She is very driven, she is very good at what she does,” he said. “She’s amazing.”
When the two were younger, one of her favorite songs to sing to him was “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5.
All these years later, the two are still there for one another.
“We love each other a lot,” Riveiro said.