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Chiefland High to get new principal

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Bill Tovine replaces Pamela Asbell

By Kellie Parkin

Superintendent Robert Hastings announced Tuesday the arrival of two newcomers to the Levy County School District.

"I don't mind telling you that I actively recruited Bill and Gina Tovine," Hastings said. The Tovines can help our students achieve great things, he said. "And that's what it's all about."

Dr. Gina Tovine will be the new Assistant Superintendent as of July 1. Bill Tovine will begin his duties as principal of Chiefland High School on June 25.

"I was very impressed with Mr. Tovine - the way he conducted himself with everybody," Hastings said about the time he first met Bill when he was the Chiefland Elementary School assistant principal in 2005. "I consider him to be one of our finest young men. He is the complete package."

Bill Tovine replaces Pamela Asbell, who becomes principal of Williston Middle School.

Bill Tovine

With a masters in Educational Leadership, Bill's earlier education is in Exceptional Student Education, with an emphasis in behavior. He has been in the forefront of developing two major behavior programs in Citrus County.

In 1994, he was a member of the committee that created and launched the Renaissance Center, Citrus County's alternative education facility for middle and high school students. The center incorporates a school-wide behavior program as well as integrated counseling services to prepare students to re-enter their home schools.

In 1995, he was part of a team that created a full-time resource class for ESE students who are emotionally handicapped at Crystal River High School. He taught the class for eight years.

"We started the program with just 11 of our students," Bill said. The first semester those students alone had 235 major referrals and 85 minor referrals, he said. By the second semester, though, the major referrals had dropped to 11, and there were no minor referrals. The second semester also saw a complete reversal in student studies. "There was a 93 percent academic turnaround."

He spent the 2004 academic year at West Port High School in Ocala where he was the dean of students.

In 2005 he made his way to Levy County where he was the assistant principal at Chiefland Elementary. "The transition (to Levy County) as a family didn't work that time," Bill said. The next year he returned to Citrus County as the assistant principal for Hernando Elementary School, where he has spent the past three years.

Bill and Gina said they look forward to raising their family in Levy County.

"Chiefland reminds me of Crystal River when I was a kid," said Bill, who lived in Williston for a few years as a small child until the age of 5 when his family moved to Citrus County. "I'm excited to bring my two little kids up in an area like Chiefland."

The couple has a daughter, Ally, who is 2 years old and a son, Michael, who is 5. Gina and Bill first met while he was a substitute at the school she was teaching at. They met outside one day on a ball field during a bomb threat.

Gina Tovine

"I first met Gina when I was the principal at Cedar Key," Hastings said, referring to Gina as a student at the time. "I have continued to be impressed with her accomplishments throughout her career."

Dr. Gina Tovine leaves behind a 23-year career with Citrus County Schools to come to Levy. Nineteen of those years were at Crystal River Middle School: 12 years as a teacher, and the remaining as administration, including principal. Most recently, Gina has spent the past four years as the Director of Research and Accountability, which is a department that provides information, assessments, and support to improve student successes and allow for better decision making throughout the district.

"I loved that school - it was my family," Gina said. "But I decided it was time to branch out."

Gina has many accomplishments of which to be proud, including the initiation of benchmark assessments that she helped design - first as principal at her school - and then carried out county-wide.

A recent Citrus County project Gina has been instrumental in launching is the Performance Matters system that tracks data on all students. The program houses all FCAT, SRI (reading scores), and other benchmarks, as well as discipline and attendance records so that teachers can look at a student's entire profile.

"It gives teachers the opportunity to see what benchmarks students aren't mastering, and which areas need more focus," she said. Gina worked with educators throughout the district to provide training for the Performance Matters system.

Ready to hit the ground running, Gina said the first thing she plans to do in Levy County is meet with personnel to learn the ropes. "The first thing I want to do is sit down with each individual and get feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of every area," Gina said. "I want to talk to the experts of the different programs, learn how they do things here, find out what works and what doesn't."

For Gina, it's an obvious delight to be back in Levy County. Raised in Cedar Key, her family is threaded throughout the island and surrounding areas. "I was born and raised here, and I want to raise my kids here," she said. "I actually graduated from Chiefland High - it was the one year that Cedar Key School was closed," she added. "So it's interesting that my husband will be the principal of my school."

"We're glad they're coming back to the county," said Gina's mother, Cedar Key City Clerk Frances Hodges. "Gina started this goal when she was in the sixth grade - said she was going to go college. She's worked really hard to get where she is."

Hodges said that Gina and Bill have been working toward this move for a long time. "We're very proud of both of them, and very happy to have them back."