The new principal at Cork Elementary is certainly no stranger to the school or to Plant City.
Sherri Black, the school's assistant principal and a lifelong resident, was promoted July 31 to be the school's principal. And she couldn't be happier to be heading the 680-student school.
"This is the most wonderful school in Plant City," said Black, who was assistant principal for seven years.
Jerry Jackson, area leadership director for East Hillsborough schools, said Black earned the promotion.
"She worked hard and definitely is ready to take over," Jackson said.
Black, a 1982 Plant City High School graduate, feels blessed to have spent her entire teaching career in hometown schools.
Her first job after she graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor's in elementary education was as a teacher at Springhead Elementary. She worked there 15 years, the last five as the media specialist.
She worked at Burney Elementary School for a year before coming to Cork, where she quickly became attached to the students, parents and faculty.
"It's like a family," she said. "Everyone is so student-centered, and they want to give them the best possible education. It's a very loving and caring environment."
Parents are very supportive, Black said. For example, a parent recently furnished a lunch for 100 teachers and other school employees so they wouldn't have to leave campus on a busy day, she said.
She looks forward to the school's theme for the next two years, selected by the teachers: "Lights, Camera, Action…Learn."
"We're going to have an action-packed year at Cork, full of learning," said Black, who also has a master's degree from USF.
She inherits a school that was spiffed-up during the summer with a new marquee out front and murals in the front office and lunchroom. The lunchroom murals depict the school mascot, the cougars, strawberry fields and "the old time Cork community," Black said.
Black and her husband of 11 years, Chris, have a total of four children from previous marriages, including A.J. Black, 19, a Palm Beach Atlantic University student; Nicolas Jones, 19, a Florida Atlantic University student; Samantha Black, 15, a Plant City High School student; and Lucas Jones, 12, a Tomlin Middle School student.
Black is one of two new principals at Plant City area schools. Jennifer West recently took the helm at Lincoln Elementary Magnet School, taking over for Susan Raburn, who retired. Cork's former principal, Melody Murphy, transferred to Riverview Elementary to take West's place as principal there.