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Sarasota Friday, Mar. 19, 2010 5 years ago

Principal Dragon circles back to his roots

by: Loren Mayo and Robin Roy

There are dragons everywhere in Steve Dragon’s office. Dragon kites, dragon books, stuffed animals — you name it. There’s even a dragon rug, where the younger students gather during monthly luncheons with the principal to learn new words for use in their everyday vocabulary.

Next year, Dragon and his namesakes will move from their home at Gocio Elementary to Southside Elementary. School Superintendent Lori White has recommended Gocio Elementary Principal Steve Dragon to that post. The school board is expected to approve the recommendation at its April 6 meeting.

With a purple dragon sitting on his lap, Dragon tells of his adventures from 1983, when started his teaching career as a 22-year-old at Southside. In 1986, one of his fifth-grade students presented him with the dragon figurine that started his collection, which now takes up nearly his entire office at Gocio.

“Southside has always had a very special place in my heart,” Dragon said. “It’s going to be a unique opportunity to go back inside the classroom where I taught.”

Dragon has spent the past nine years as Gogio’s principal and 15 years as a school administrator. His efforts have helped raise the school grade average from a “C” in 2002 to an “A” in 2007, which students maintained in 2008 and 2009. He also was instrumental in forming advanced work classrooms to serve gifted and accelerated students.

“I’ve hired two-thirds of the people who work here and helped build a family,” Dragon said. “I care so much about teachers and staff members. There have been teary days here on both ends.”

Dragon will succeed current Principal Sharon Marks, who is retiring after 10 years of leading Southside Elementary.

Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected] and Robin Roy at [email protected].


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