Dennis Mayo has taken over the reins as the school begins to build a new identity.
Perhaps more at Marshall Middle Magnet School than most, if not all others in the Plant City area, change is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Marshall is beginning its transition into an International Baccalaureate school now and also has new leadership to start this new era.
The school welcomed new principal Dennis Mayo aboard in June. Mayo most recently worked with the school district as a principal coach and trainer, a role he started in 2013 that took him all over the district to help school leaders grow and thrive.
“I was attracted to the opportunity to grow my experiences in reference to developing adults,” Mayo said. “I felt like I had more to offer and I was attracted to the training and support the coaches received and that they would give the principals. I really grew as far as my training ability, working with adults and adult leaders. I hope I was able to positively influence a large number of principals throughout our district.”
With the district undergoing some restructuring, Mayo said, the opportunity to join Marshall’s staff opened up. Luckily for the school, Mayo was ready to get back to his roots.
“I never left my heart for principalship,” Mayo said. “Throughout my coaching career, I knew the opportunity would present itself at some point.”
Mayo is well acquainted with the Plant City area. In fact, he got most of his K-12 education here. Mayo attended Dover Elementary School, Turkey Creek Middle School (which was then a junior high school) and Plant City High School growing up, and he came back to TCMS in 2006 to serve as its principal until 2013. When he was coaching other principals, his work occasionally brought him back to the area.
“I am a product of Plant City and that helps me to understand our students and community,” Mayo said. “I believe that goes a long way and it’s part of the reason why I’m here.”
Mayo has had several weeks to engage with Marshall’s faculty and said it’s “dedicated, hard-working and they truly love the kids.” They’ll help him promote his theme for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
“Our theme for this year is something I feel very strongly about,” Mayo said. “I feel a middle school-aged child and our teachers could buy into it, especially with the changes in our world we don’t all necessarily understand. There’s a little bit of anxiety in adults and kids… people worried about certain things. I adopted a theme for myself I felt would speak to everybody.”
The theme is simple, yet strong: “I am enough. You are enough. We are enough. Adventure awaits.”
“We are enough to make changes in our own community, to keep us and each other safe, to work collaboratively with our community and make sure we have an understanding of the struggles each and every one of us are going through,” Mayo said. “The IB learner profile, it fits right in with that. We’re all in this together and we have to work together as a world community to understand each other so we can coexist and thrive.”
Incoming sixth graders at Marshall will be able to apply for the school’s new IB Middle Years Programme starting July 15 and have until 11:59 p.m. July 25 to get signed up. More information is available online at sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/230. Marshall has three to four years to go before it will become Plant City’s next IB school, and Mayo is excited to help bridge a gap that’s created many long commutes and more work for local students over the years. Lincoln Elementary School and Strawberry Crest High School offer full IB programs, but middle schoolers have had to venture out of town to be able to continue the program without interruption.
“I am happy to be in Plant City and the support I’ve received since coming four weeks ago has been very heartwarming,” Mayo said. “I appreciate the teachers, the community and all the support that we have here in the district as well to invest in the school with some of the new projects we have going on here.”