SEMINOLE – Walter Weller, principal of Seminole High School, will leave the public school system for the private school sector at the end of the school year.
The announcement came on May 15 during the morning announcements at SHS, when he publically acknowledged his departure to the school’s students and faculty.
After seven years with the Warhawks, Weller will join the Golden Eagles at Indian Rocks Christian School as the new superintendent, a decision he’d made three months ago, but waited to share.
In addition to Weller leaving, Sam Roper will step down as head football coach after 28 seasons and band director Daniel Wood will leave to pursue his master’s degree after 14 years with the music program.
“It will definitely be a new era for Seminole and it has been kind of coming for some time,” said Weller. “Last year it was [track coach] Bruce Calhoun and two years before that it was [math teacher] Robin Ladd. It is that time. With all the peaks and valleys, some have gone on to do other things within the school system, while others decided to retire.”
But for Weller, faith and lessons learned have always been a guiding force in his decisions, especially as he moves to the private school system.
“I have always looked at my job at Seminole High School as an extension of what I believe in and that is first and foremost helping kids, parents and teachers,” said Weller.
Weller has roots in Pinellas County. He grew up in Clearwater and graduated from Clearwater Central Catholic High School in 1981.
After graduation, he attended the University of South Florida where he received his bachelor’s degree in social science education and later his masters in
education leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 1995. During the time of receiving his masters, he was a teacher, coach, athletic director and director of extracurricular student activities.
He transferred to SHS in 2006, accepting an assistant principal position under the guidance of then Warhawks principal Rick Misenti. When Misenti left in 2007 to take a principal position in Guilford, Conn., Weller was appointed principal.
During his time at Seminole, he wanted to ensure that Warhawk traditions continued. Ann Wilson, the school’s family and community relations liaison, said his interactions with the students and his support of faculty and staff have always been a priority for him.
“He leads by example and is definitely a rules kind of guy,” said Wilson. “And if I had an issue with a student not following the rules, he would always have my back. He lets me do my job as I see fit. Nobody is complaining. He has been very fair. He had the to make a big campaign to have more faculty join the PTA at Seminole High School. He doesn’t hesitate. He jumps out and takes the lead.“
And from the leadership came the expected results.
“We wanted to get high academic performance from what we were teaching, measuring what we were teaching and showing progress in the classroom along with FCAT scores,” said Weller.
He also went out of his way to make working at SHS an enjoyable experience for his faculty and staff.
“The most memorable thing … was [when] he brought his own barbeque from home and made a barbeque lunch for the entire faculty,” said Wilson. “He cooked everything and really treated all of us like we were family. All of us thought it was awesome.”
During his tenure at Seminole, many of his students and the programs received high honors. The Warhawk band marched in the 2009 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and the 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade.
Both the boys and girls soccer teams were state runner-ups in 2010 and the flag football team won district titles in 2012 and 2013. The baseball and softball teams won district titles and the 2007-2008 baseball team went 22-0 during the regular season.
He’ll keep busy during his final days at SHS, finding replacements for open teacher positions. June 6 will be Weller’s official last day at SHS.
In addition to graduating over 479 seniors this year, he also will be overseeing the graduation of his son, Noah, when he walks across the stage at Tropicana Field to receive his diploma. After that, the next step begins.
“I am definitely nervous about the move, but also very excited,” said Weller. “It’s going to be a challenge and I understand what is all going on there. But education is education. I am excited about being able to freely share my faith with other people along with students and faculty.”