Jennifer West knew as a Plant City High School student that education would be her life's work.
"It's a calling, I think, to work with children," she said.
West, who started her career as a teacher at Springhead Elementary School, recently took on a new job, as principal at Lincoln Elementary Magnet School.
She's looking forward to her role as she prepares for the school year.
"It was a nice, new challenge to take on," she said.
Lincoln offers an International Baccalaureate curriculum, which requires specialized training and instruction for the 420 students and 60 faculty and support staff members. As an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme World School, Lincoln strives for both academic excellence and cultural diversity.
West, who graduated from Plant City High in 1995, earned her bachelor's in special education from the University of South Florida in 1999 and her master's in instructional leadership in 2004.
She spent the first few years of her career as an exceptional student education (ESE) teacher, first at Springhead, and later at Wilson Elementary. Her first job as an administrator was at Alafia Elementary, where she was assistant principal for three and a half years. She moved up to principal at Riverview Elementary about two and a half years ago.
When Susan Raburn retired as Lincoln principal after this past school year, West jumped at the chance to take the position. She said she has consulted Raburn several times as she prepares to take over at the school, at 1207 E. Renfro St.
West and her husband of 14 years, Brian, have three children, Elizabeth, 8, who will be a fourth-grader at Lincoln in the coming year, Elijah, 5, who will be in kindergarten at Lincoln, and Emory, 1.
The family lives in Plant City, so West is looking forward to working closer to home.
Jerry Jackson, area superintendent for East Hillsborough County schools, said West is a good fit for the job, particularly since she lives in Plant City and along with her husband is active in the community.
"She has an excellent reputation throughout the [school] district," Jackson said.