Cypress Trails Elementary School in Royal Palm Beach has a new principal now that Shari Bremekamp has taken over for Tameka Robinson, who is heading to Lantana to become the new principal at Santaluces High School.
Though leaving her previous position as assistant principal at Berkshire Elementary School in West Palm Beach was bittersweet, Bremekamp is excited about her new challenge.
“I’m just really excited to be a part of the community and be able to work with the children here,” she said. “I feel very fortunate to be given this opportunity, and I look forward to working with the parents, the children and the community, as well as our teachers and staff.”
With her people-person disposition and extensive experience in the Palm Beach County School District, Bremekamp is ready and eager to tackle the job.
“When you go to something new, it’s always going to be a challenge,” she said. “It’s a different role from being an assistant principal to the principal.”
Bremekamp earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University before earning a master’s degree in educational leadership from Barry University and then returning to FAU for her specialist degree. She spent three years in Martin County, has been in Palm Beach County since 2000, and spent nine years at Northboro Elementary School before moving to a district position as an area specialist for science and math in 2009. In January 2012, she became the assistant principal at Berkshire.
“My top priority has always been the children,” Bremekamp said. “I focus on them.”
She is also happy to be welcomed as a community partner by parents. “I welcome their input and do plan to have a meet-and-greet with them as I go through this transition,” Bremekamp said.
As of right now, the meet-the-teacher open house event will be Friday, Aug. 15 from 9 to 11 a.m.
Bremekamp is looking forward to meeting the parents and letting them get to know her.
“One of the key things that I want to do is put their mind at ease, to let them know that they are in good hands and that I do have experience,” she explained. “I certainly want to continue the great work that has been going on here at Cypress Trails, and I’ll continue to support them next year as we shift into the new Florida standards.”
Bremekamp’s approach to education focuses on collaboration.
“I believe that it’s very important to have that relationship with the staff, with the students and with the community,” she said.” I believe in taking that collaboration and bringing it here to Cypress Trails. I am confident that they had collaboration prior to me coming, but I think that is one of my strengths.”
Parental input is critical, as is parent and community involvement. Bringing community awareness to the school is a priority to Bremekamp, who has found the school to be a warm, caring environment.
“It’s wonderful, and I am so pleased that I have been given this opportunity to lead this school,” she said.
Meanwhile, Robinson will be taking over for Kathleen Weigel at Santaluces.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to go to Santaluces, because my background in teaching and as an assistant principal is at the high school level,” Robinson said. “However, it’s bittersweet because I’ve worked with fantastic people here at Cypress Trails.”
The programs, population and community at Santaluces are similar to those of Forest Hill High School, where Robinson previously was an assistant principal.
Cypress Trails has certainly changed since Robinson first stepped foot in the school.
“When I started here, the school was a letter grade of C, so we definitely increased our student achievement because we’ve been an A for two consecutive years,” she said. “Increasing student achievement, increasing parental and community involvement, motivating the students and just working as a collaborative group with all the stakeholders has been a positive impact, and that’s why student achievement is on the rise.”
Returning the school to the coveted A grade assessment was Robinson’s proudest achievement in her time at Cypress Trails.
Robinson described Cypress Trails as truly a community school, saying that she had had the opportunity to follow the students as they grew up. Of her many fond memories working at the elementary level with teachers and community has been working with various grade levels, being a positive role model and helping to meet the needs of the students.
“For me, in particular, I’ve been working with the fifth-graders since they were second-graders, and to see them develop, grow and transition into middle school,” she said. “That rite of passage, to where they’re not little boys and girls anymore, but they’re little young adults going to middle school… that’s monumental to me. I was able to work with 119 of them this year, to help them with that transition.”
As Robinson herself transitions back to high school, she recalls her final message and parting words for the students at Cypress Trails.
“One thing that I always tell my kids is that students have the ability to achieve and to be successful,” Robinson said. “As long as they make those positive choices, I think they will be successful. There’s no way they will not be. That’s one thing I shared in my message to them, as fifth-graders, to always do their best. That’s all we can ask you to do. If we know that if you do your best and you put forth that effort, then you’re obviously going to be very successful.”
ABOVE: New Cypress Trails Elementary School Principal Shari Bremekamp.