Leading with a smile

Keila Victor


BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – Bay Vista Fundamental Elementary just got a face lift with the addition of a brand new pick up/drop off driveway. They also received a new face as their leader in Keila Victor, a 20-year veteran of education who came from Madeira Beach Fundamental. Victor brings to the campus a noticeable smile, quiet demeanor and strong family values.

“I’m an educator, mother and a wife who has been married for 20 years. I love my family, joyful singing and dancing. I love life,” said Victor. “I’m an energetic professional, who believes that all kids can learn, but not all in the same way and not all in the same day.”

Victor comes from a family that believes strongly in education, family support and declares that she wasn’t fed with a silver spoon. She recalls spending time at her grandparents and how granddad had all the grandchildren reading math books and summarizing newspaper articles in their early years. She attributes that upbringing and those family gatherings as the anchor of love for family, which she brings to the profession.

She is a product of Pinellas County Schools. She attended Madeira Beach Middle School and graduated from Pinellas Park High School. From there, she headed to Tallahassee where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Florida A&M University. She earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the National Louis University.

Being a part of the Bay Vista Fundamental family is nothing new for this principal; although, the role and reason has changed. Victor’s daughter attended the school, so her experience as a parent going through the fundamental process will help her understand how her parents will feel concerning their children.

“I’m excited to be back at Bay Vista. It feels like home to me. My daughter went to Bay Vista and I know what it is to be a Bay Vista Fundamental parent,” said Victor. “Now, I’m the leader of the parents.”

Victor went through questioning whether or not fundamental was right for her child and learning how to maneuver through the process. She recalls analyzing what was best for her and looking at the fundamental philosophy and evaluating her family values.

“After carefully examining the overall picture, we decided that Bay Vista was a good fit for her. This is the process that fundamental parents go through so we must be prepared to help them navigate through it and do it with a smile.”

According to Victor, parents can expect a family-friendly atmosphere, a safe and clean environment and a risk-free zone where kids feel safe to share without fear of retaliation. Students will be working to their full potential and teachers facilitating that process.

The teachers should feel supportive and know that they have a voice. They are in charge of their own professional growth and have a principal who will help to direct them.

“I want to grow more leaders who feel empowered. We want to celebrate more student success and give teachers more time to collaborate,” said Victor. “Bay Vista has done well. We want to maintain that level of excellence and take it from good to great.”

Victor knows well the benefit of a family caring, sharing and loving each other. It’s what she was brought up in and that’s what she knows.

So, when parents begin to drive through the student drop off and pick up area, they will immediately notice the newness of the pavement. Standing on it will be their new principal with a quiet, but inviting demeanor and a noticeable smile.

To reach Dexter McCree, email dmccree@theweeklychallenger.com

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