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If walls could speak, East Bay High School would have a lot of students' stories to tell. This year the South Shore area school in Gibsonton is celebrating its 60th anniversary. While thousands of students have graduated and moved on, 11 are returning to the school this year as teachers and staff. The alumni want to give back to the school that helped shape their lives and positively impact students' futures.
Heather and Tony Rodriguez met on their first day of school at East Bay High in their homeroom class in 1990. The couple dated during high school, had their first kiss in the football stadium and that's where Tony proposed 4 years later. They've now been married nearly 22 years and both have returned to work at the school. Tony's been teaching Social Studies for a decade and is the Varsity Football Offensive Coordinator. Heather teaches math, is the Student Government sponsor and the treasurer for the Athletic Booster Club.
"It's very exciting," said Principal Maria Gsell. "They know what East Bay is all about. They know the family atmosphere, and they come to us with a set of skills that no one else possesses, because they know and love this school dearly," said Gsell.
For Reading Teacher Amanda Cerrato, this isn't just her first year returning to East Bay, it's her first year teaching. "It's exciting. It's really nerve-racking actually, but I'm excited to see my students and show them that you can make it anywhere, especially at this school, because I did it, so it'll be a lot of fun."
East Bay Alumni Staff
Amanda Cerrato, Class of 2012, Reading Teacher
Dan Conner, Class of 2004, Aquaculture Teacher
Jennifer Connolly, Class of 1984, Main Office Secretary
Josh Herman, Class of 2006, Science Teacher
Edward Livesay, Class of 2010, Social Studies Teacher
Tim Mays, Class of 1987, Math Teacher
Heather Rodriguez, Class of 1994, Math Teacher
Tony Rodriguez, Class of 1994, Social Studies Teacher
Tyler Schuerman, Class of 1999, ESE Teacher
Dawn Sherman, Class of 1990, English/Journalism Teacher
Kim Willis, Class of 1992, Agriculture Teacher
1990 Graduate Dawn Sherman grew up in Apollo Beach and returned to teach at the school five years ago. She loves the new campaign that the school started last year "All In" and "All Indians" to profess their dedication to the school and students.
"It shows the tradition and culture that we have going on here, and the true passion that the teachers have for the students here at East Bay High School. When you look into your passion in your heart of what you do, you want to make a difference. I really want people to see the great, awesome things that are going on in East Bay, and the great, awesome, students that we have here that have the same heart and passion that hopefully, one day will come back and also teach here," Sherman said.
Social Studies teacher Edward Livesay insists it's his dream to teach at his alma mater. "To come back and give everything that the school has given to me, everything from the rigorous academics to leadership opportunities that just inspired me to continue throughout college and my professional career, and I just hope to give that same experience to Juniors this year," Livesay said. He graduated from East Bay in 2010.
While steeped in tradition, there is something new at East Bay this year for teachers and students: 20 technology-filled math classrooms. The new wing has been under construction since last summer and is now finished. Teachers are excited to move into the new space and say it will help ease some of the stress on crowded classrooms on campus.
"I'm kind of excited coming into a new building. I've been in that building for, believe it or not, 24 years, plus I went to school here, so this is a new experience - with windows," said Math Teacher and 1987 East Bay Graduate Tim Mays.
Impact fees funded the $5.9m Classroom Addition Project. The 20,000 square-foot area can accommodate 500 students.View Full Album