Zephyrhills Schools – Principals


Principals of Zephyrhills Schools

There have been a total of 31 school principals of Zephyrhills High School. The school represented grades 1 through 12 until 1959 so the principals until 1959 truly were the educational leaders of the entire Zephyrhills area. Until many years later, the ZHS principal was considered the “supervising principal,” of the other Zephyrhills principals as well.

Of the high school principals, Raymond B. Stewart was the longest tenured principal and he holds the distinction with Dr. Charles A. Henderson of being only two principals that served two non-consecutive terms. Mr. Stewart of course, was the school superintendent and later state legislator and Mr. Henderson left ZHS to become one of the first principals of P.K. Yonge Laboratory School at University of Florida. Other noteworthy principals were Thomas Burch Cornelius who served as the school’s first football coach in 1941. Mr. Cornelius’s daughter, Dr. Catherine Cornelius, is currently compiling information about this leader who was also noteworthy during World War II. A few principals were removed from office, primarily due to teacher dissatisfaction. Walter Craig, School Superintendent, served as an interim principal for a few weeks in 1944 when Joel Nally was dismissed. Professor P.W. Corr was noteworthy because he started a teacher certification school and was responsible for the formal certification training of many of the ZHS teachers for many years after leaving ZHS. Judge James Wilton Sanders was the first principal and also a school superintendent; his photo hangs at the Pioneer Museum in Dade City in the school house exhibit. James Theodore Campbell, Jr. is the only school principal who was a ZHS graduate, and later served as principal. Gerri Painter is noteworthy as the first female principal of ZHS, and took the office in 2004.

Principals of Zephyrhills High School


Judge James Wilton Sanders

(Age 21 when principal and 25 when elected Pasco School Superintendent)

1914—Clarence H. Martin
1915—William Cleveland Finney
July 3, 1916-1917

Professor M.J. Okerlund

(After leaving ZHS, he was the founding principal of Winter Park High School)

No picture available
June 5, 1917-1921

Professor Walter Roberts

1921—Professor R.H. Terry No picture available

Professor Ptolemy Watkins Corr (known as P.W. Corr)

September 4, 1922—R.D. Hogue No picture available
December 4, 1922—Warren Ellis Trottman
August 6, 1923—Prof. R. R. Riley No picture available
August 1924—Rev. J. B. Blanchett
August 6, 1925—Malcolm G. Donaldson
1926-Professor M.P. Geiger No picture available
August 6, 1928—W.D. Reid No picture available
July 7, 1930—Joseph W. Walker No picture available
1933—C.D. Johnson
July 5, 1934—

James Theodore Campbell, Jr.

(only principal to have graduated from ZHS)


Lewis E. Rowland

No picture available

D.C. “Doc” Carl Cripe


Thomas Burch Cornelius

**Also ZHS’s first football coach—a job he held for the first football team while principal

June 21, 1943-1944

Joel Nally

May of 1944

Walter C. Craig

(School Superintendent served as interim principal)

September 18, 1945-1947

Paul B.L. Mitchell

April 7, 1947-November 1947

Clifford C. Baile

No picture available
December 1, 1947-1951

Leon R. Luckenbach

June 12, 1951—1955

D.G. McPherson known to students as “Mr. Mac”

July 8, 1955—1957

Dr. Charles A. Henderson*

*represents same individual who served two time periods as principal

May 5, 1957—Stewart M. Brown
July 14, 1959—

Dr. Charles A. Henderson*

*represents same individual who served two time periods as principal

1964-1973-Raymond B. Stewart*

*represents same individual who served two time periods as principal

1973-1975—James E. Davis
1975-1980—Raymond Bryant Stewart*
1980-1993—Larry Robison
1993-2004—James T. Davis
2004-2009—Gerri L. Painter
2009-Oct. 2012—Steve Van Gorden
2012- — Andrew Frelick

Until 1975, ZHS included the middle and high school under one principal. The elementary schools were also included as part of ZHS until the late 1950’s. There was in fact, one school for the Zephyrhills area. The celebration of the 100th anniversary of Zephyrhills School is in fact the 100th anniversary of the Zephyrhills schools. The growth has been tremendous. The administrators/principals of the other schools which are feeder schools are listed. This centennial celebration of Zephyrhills School celebrates many leaders. The first female principal in the Zephyrhills area was Bessie Barefield in 1949 at the Zephyrhills African-American School at Krusen Quarters, and she paved the way for several more. Gerri Painter is of course, the first ZHS principal. The writer is of course a former school principal, having been a school-based administrator for ten years and a district based administrator for nine years.

R. B. Stewart Middle School

Until 1975 Zephyrhills Junior High School/R.B. Stewart Middle School was under the same leadership as ZHS. (The name changed from Zephyrhills Middle School to Zephyrhills Junior High, back to Zephyrhills Middle School, and became Raymond B. Stewart Middle School in September of 1986.) At the opening of the plant as a unique junior or middle school in 1975, principals were as follows:

1975-1985, James E. Davis; 1985-1999, Bruce Baldwin; 1999-2012, Jackson Johnson; 2012- , Shae Davis

East Zephyrhills Elementary

(on ZHS campus)

No picture available

1959-1963: Thomas McCree; 1963-67: Ferd Renninger; 1973-74: James B. Walker

West Zephyrhills Elementary

May 15, 1959-1967: Arleis Edward Ross; 1967-78, Ferd Renninger; 1978-87, Louis R. Freijo, Jr.; 1987-1997, Jeannette Lovelace;

1997-2001, Madonna Wise; 2001-2012, Emily Keene; 2012- , Wendy Lane

Zephyrhills Elementary at the Krusen Quarters

(Zephyrhills African-American School)

1949-1955: Bessie F. Barefield

Woodland Elementary

(Adjoining ZHS campus)

1978-1985: Ferd E. Renninger; 1985-2003: Randall Belcher; 2003-2004: Karen Marler; 2004-2007: Steve Rinck; 2007: Kimberly Poe

Chester Taylor Elementary

1997-2002, Frances McCrimmon; 2002-2004, David Scanga; 2004-Aug. 13, 2010, Eva Hunsburger; 2010- , Julie Marks

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