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The student news site of Robinson High School

Knight Writers

The student news site of Robinson High School

Knight Writers

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ISSUE 3: Bush Is on the Campaign Trail

Robinson’s former Principal Johnny Bush runs for school board
Photo I. Hanewicz
Principal Johnny Bush speaks to students about their achievements.

Robinson, a historic school with deep roots in SOG, is littered with many teachers who have been Knights for decades. Some of these veteran teachers and program heads once had esteemed educator, and now Hillsborough County school board candidate, Johnny Bush, as their Principal.

“Robinson was my first job as a Principal, so it will always be very near and dear to me. I love what they have done with the school [and] I love the history of Robinson. I was Principal when Robinson received its first A rating and we brought the I.B. program to accreditation,” Bush said.

As Bush began to start his plans to retire, many of his colleagues told him that he would make a great candidate for the school board. Social Studies Teacher Jacklyn Militello recalls him being a great leader and an important asset to the school during his tenure.

“Mr. Bush was a great principle. He was fair and equitable to all. He had a very diplomatic way of giving constructive criticism without making people feel bad about themselves and was very motivational and uplifting to his staff,” Militello said. “He would be a great school board member because he knows the system. He has served at the district level and he has a personality that would be welcoming to a variety of perspectives and take into consideration what’s important for the various schools and students.”

Inspired by his time spent volunteering at a summer camp for deaf and blind children, Bush began his teaching journey as a teacher for the deaf and blind.

“My first love for education was teaching deaf and hard of hearing kids,” Bush said.

Shortly after his college graduation from Concordia Lutheran College, Bush found himself driving past the Florida School For the Deaf and Blind. He was compelled to stop to try and reconnect with the children he had taught while at the camp.

“I stopped in to see some of my kids there because I knew that they had attended that school, and sure enough I saw some of my kids,” Bush revealed. “I saw some of the people who were actually counselors with me and worked for that school, and said, ‘I want to get a job here!'”

Bush was hired as a dorm parent in the deaf department for tenth-grade boys, where he spent his first year at the school. He was soon offered an elementary teaching position at the same school. He went on to get his Master’s Degree in Deaf Education from the University of North Florida.

Now having worked with many teachers during his long period in the HCPS system, one of the major platforms for Bush’s campaign is the somewhat controversial topic of teachers’ pay. With Hillsborough County becoming increasingly expensive to live in, Bush believes the average income for teachers should be expanding to help increase affordability and decrease teacher shortages.

“In the past ten-plus years, there are a lot of teachers that I have met that are leaving our district because it is cheaper to live elsewhere. Hillsborough County is one of the most expensive places to live in Florida, but we are not paying people more to live here,” Bush said. “I supervised four educators in their final internship from two local colleges here…not one of them picked a job in Hillsborough county, and we have vacancies in our district.”

At Robinson, with the past 2022-2023 school year seeing a loss of teachers across various subjects, teacher vacancies have started to severely affect students. Robinson has also lost several other impactful educators in the current school year and filling these slots is getting increasingly more difficult.

“When you don’t fill vacancies, other teachers have to accept that load of kids, so class sizes get bigger. As class sizes get bigger, it takes away your ability to teach efficiently. If we care about kids, we have to take care of people we put in charge of educating them,” Bush said.

Having worked under Bush, Social Studies Department Head Melissa Mousseau feels that this goal will benefit teachers’ salaries, as well as their respect in the community.

“I’ve actually talked to him. It’s not just teacher pay, he wants improved teacher treatment. It’s not just paying teachers more money, but giving them the resources to do their jobs well,” Mousseau said.

Most of the districts surrounding Hillsborough have tax millages to compensate teachers. However, the vote to pass this act on the local level failed.

“The message that was sent was that we don’t value the people that we put in charge of educating our kids enough to pay a little extra taxes to pay those people, that motivated me,” Bush said.

During Bush’s time as Robinson’s Principal, the school had the highest percentages of students report that they felt very safe at school, a detail Bush finds very important. Giving the peace of mind that comes with safety is something he hopes to give students throughout the district. While asking local parents if they planned on sending their incoming high schoolers to Robinson, he was met with questions about the integrity of the campus and the current student body.

“At the time, they [the parents] didn’t know about Robinson, they didn’t know how safe Robinson was, and I had never known Robinson not to be safe, but I have heard stories from the past,” Bush said. “I went to the superintendent and said that we had to give our school a single entry access point and solid security. We made those things happen.”

Robinson has gone through a transformation over the past ten years, one that is not limited to new buildings or technology. As a Phoenix rising from the ashes, or in this case rubble, Robinson has grown and has started to flourish academically and socially in the South Tampa community. Many long-time staff members feel that this transformation can be attributed to Bush.

“I’ve had some amazing people that worked there with me and Robinson has long been a hidden gem of South Tampa. A lot of teachers stay at Robinson for a long time, which is unusual because when you stay in those positions for a long time, [it’s] because you like where you are,” Bush said. “I think that atmosphere has continued through Robert Bhoolai and now David Brown.”

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About the Contributor
Ashlyn Miller
Ashlyn Miller, Sports Editor
Ashlyn Miller is a junior at Robinson and the Sports Editor of Knight Writers. This is her second year on staff and first year as an editor. Miller's favorite part of journalism is taking photos of all of the sports at Robinson and improving her photography skills. "We don't exactly have press at Robinson so it's rewarding to me to take photos of people doing what they love," Miller said. Outside of the journalism room, Miller stays involved in school with an array of hobbies. She enjoys staying involved in school by participating in swimming, photography and orchestra. She enjoys playing the violin and loves learning new pieces. "If you're able to make the violin sound good, it's a such rewarding accomplishment for such a difficult instrument," Miller said. Miller also likes spending time with her dog in her past time. Out of cats or dogs, she instantaneously chose dogs. "I prefer dogs. I actually own a German Shepherd named Leia and she's the light of my life, but I have nothing against cats," Miller said. Prepared for the future, she plans to attend journalism school, preferably at Duke University and join their ROTC program.  Miller is passionate about media and sports although how competitive positions are. "I want to specialize in the media realm and possibly be a sports commentator for ESPN," Miller said. "I love watching, covering and even playing sports because of the environment that surrounds them and the gratification that comes with doing well." (Profile by Briana Garcia)
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    Jennifer RosageMar 1, 2024 at 10:40 pm

    This article only shares the tip of the iceberg of what Mr. Bush brings to Hillsborough County. He desires all our votes.