Soaring Since 1914


Yesterday, Eighth Street Elementary, the oldest continually used school in the state of Florida, celebrated its 100th year with a celebration including comments by the Superintendent of Marion County Schools, the Florida Commissioner of Education, a summary of the school’s history presented by students, and singing by past and present students.


The day can best be summarized by John’s closing comments:

The premier high school in the state in 1914. No electricity in the classrooms. A move from an over- crowded high school to a grammar and junior high school. Order kept with a mysterious electric paddle. New buildings constructed for the cost of today’s sports utility vehicle. Continued traditions such as the PTA/PTO, Bike Rodeo, and Spaghetti Dinner. A two million dollar renovation in 2000. History has been good to this building and the schools housed within its brick walls. This historic building has produced leaders such as Gov. Buddy MacKay and Lt. Gov. Jim Williams. It has served as a beacon for downtown Ocala.

Today we celebrate the centennial of this beautiful building, and we are looking ahead to the next 100 hundred years. I have asked students’ “What memories will you have to tell when you return for the Sesquitennial? How will schools change in the next 50 years?”

Our PTO’s mission is to use this celebration to Restore, Renew, and Revitalize our school. We want to keep our valued traditions in place. We want to continue to support initiatives such as supplying SMART classroom technology to all of the classrooms or installing a camera security system on the front doors of the school. Our PTO has set an aggressive plan to install a wrought iron fence with brick columns around this front lawn so our younger students can enjoy time under these stately trees without concerns of traffic or intruders. If this building has played an important role in your life, I encourage you to become involved with Eighth Street’s initiative to Restore, Renew, Revitalize our campus. You can donate financially to our efforts or volunteer your time and talents.


In closing, I am proud to serve as principal of Eighth Street Elementary and become part of its history. This building fosters a family atmosphere and a loyalty that is second to none. I am fortunate that my three daughters attended Eighth Street Elementary and have memories as solid as the brick walls of this school. Teachers and students have been teaching and learning here for 100 years. We will continue to SOAR.

IMG_1170_2What a great day for those who love this school to have the  opportunity to see former classmates and teachers and to reminisce about their years in this historic building.

A special thanks to David Steffey for sharing pictures of the celebration.

Centennial Celebration

Eighth Street Elementary School, the oldest continually used school in the state of Florida, celebrates its 100th year on Saturday, September 27th.

For nine years from 1992-2001, our daughters were students at Eighth Street and for 15 years we had one or more nephews at the school. Then John joined the Eighth Street tradition not only as a parent, but as the principal of the school.

The celebration will begin outside on the patio decorated with bricks recognizing those who have been touched by the school.

IMG_7863Students from throughout the school’s history

as well as teachers are recognized on the patio.

In addition, businesses, service organizations, and business leaders are named on the bricks.

Classmates and friends can be found on the patio.

It’s time to celebrate, see alumni, teachers, and friends, and rub elbows with Marion County’s Principal of the Year, the Superintendent of Marion County schools, and the Florida Commissioner of Education.

Then we’ll need to add our own bricks so we can be part of the Eighth Street Elementary’s history.

Be Like Dad

Sign at Petal Pusher's Florist
Sign at Petal Pusher’s Florist

So what does your dad have in common with Malcolm Smith, MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII? They’re both recognized at Disney World this week for outstanding job performance.

This isn’t the first time your dad’s been recognized – a two time teacher of the year, a two time master teacher, Silver Springs Kiwanis Club Principal of the Year, and this year Marion County School System’s Principal of the Year – all well deserved for 35 years of dedication to the children of Marion County.

Of course this award, like all others, requires the completion of a lengthy application with statements about philosophy, community service, initiatives and references from colleagues. However, Mr. McCollum’s strength does not lie in a fancy statement of philosophy or implementing endless programs, his strength is in the personal relationships he develops with the children, parents, teachers, as well as all of the support personnel with whom he works.

There’s no doubt he takes great pride is the string of 15 successive years of leading A rated schools, but he took just as much pride in the achievement and successes of students and teachers at “his” schools that never received an A rating. While the school grade, standards,  programs, and data require his attention, his primary focus is people.

What makes him a great principal? He knows the students. He knows their names and their stories. He eats lunch with them and talks to them in the halls at school, in the aisles of Publix, while eating out at local restaurants, and even when out of town on vacation. Sure he asks what book they’re reading, or about their science fair project, or if they’ve been studying their math facts, but he also asks about their athletic events, fishing, and if they’ll be attending the school dance.

It’s no wonder he’s asked to pose in pictures with students not only at awards assemblies, but by trick-or-treaters who stop by the house. And speaking of awards assemblies, he truly enjoys recognizing student achievement at the assemblies and couldn’t imagine not observing  the outstanding grades and behavior of students, or celebrating the success of those who participate in plays, athletic and academic teams, or recognizing those who meet academic goals.

But it’s more than relationships with students. He cares about all of those on the staff at both Eighth Street Elementary and Osceola Middle School. He knows about their interests, hobbies, and travels. He’s interested in their families and knows about their children or parents. I hear him on the phone telling staff members, “don’t worry about things at school…we’ll take care of that…you need to concentrate on your mom or child or take care of yourself”.

Programs, standards, curriculum, technology, educational lingo all come and go, but the one thing that is consistent is the interaction with the people. Your dad’s got that down!

I hope you’ll remember that in your lives as well. Keep up with the newest technology, understand the programs implemented at work, meet the standards to be successful on the job, but get to know your co-workers. Listen to those you serve. In the end, that’s what really counts…be like Dad.