Exciting things are happening at Admiral Farragut Academy. From facilities upgrades to personnel shifts, the school is preparing for the 2020-21 year. One preparation includes a major change in the Lower School: Anita Fine, the long-time Lower School Head, is retiring. Stepping in to replace her as the Interim Head of Lower School is veteran leader Jennifer Grabowski, now entering her 25th year at Farragut.
About Mrs. Fine
For many, Anita Fine IS the face of the Lower School. She came to Farragut in 2001 and, over the next few years, taught first and third grades. Eventually, she was promoted to PreK-5 Principal. Then in 2014, her role expanded to include grades PreK-7.
She has been passionate about making school a safe, happy place for children. Under her leadership, the Lower School:
- increased schoolwide standardized test scores, while playing a significant role in the success of our most recent Upper School valedictorians and salutatorians;
- increased enrollment by over 65%;
- consistently had retention rates over 94%;
- expanded to include both PreK and 6th-7th grades;
- broadened its STEM and Marine Science curricula;
- created a more child-friendly playground;
- added after-school clubs and extracurricular sports/activities;
- initiated a Naval Pride and Tradition elective for 6th- and 7th-graders.
Mrs. Fine’s influence hasn’t just been local. For several years, she served on the board of the Florida Kindergarten Council, including a stint as chairperson for school evaluations throughout the state of Florida. She has been conducting school evaluations for the past eight years — up to the stay-at-home order under COVID-19.
In short, Mrs. Fine made a significant and positive impact on education, both at Farragut and throughout Florida. When she retires, however, she won’t be completely gone. The youngest of her children is a Class of 2021 senior.
“It is with truly mixed feelings that I announce my retirement in August 2020, from Admiral Farragut Academy. My time at Farragut has left me with a sense of purpose, belonging, and many fond memories that will always be with me. These were the best years as we all worked together to continue making Farragut the best school in the area. This decision has not been easy because of my passion for teaching and the love I have for your children. Though I know it will be extremely sad to depart, I am eager for the next phase of my life.”
About Ms. Grabowski:
Jennifer Grabowski has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of South Florida and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National-Louis University. She started her career as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor, worked as a substitute teacher in Pinellas County Schools, then came to Farragut as a middle school teacher in 1995. In 2003, she was named Assistant Head of Middle School. Two years later, she was promoted to Head of Middle School, which she held until 2014 when Farragut moved to two divisions, Upper and Lower.
Following that, she served as Dean of Students, Director of Student Success, Assistant Head of Upper School, and, most recently, Assistant Principal PreK-12 — where her focus has been working with faculty teaching all grade levels. Since 2017 she also has directed our Summer@Farragut program.
In addition, from 1996-2000 she was the head varsity softball coach, and from 1996-2002 she was the head varsity volleyball coach. Before the birth of her two daughters (who both attend Farragut with the classes of 2024 and 2031), she worked for 20 years as a dance instructor.
“Admiral Farragut Academy is family to me and has been a part of my life since 1988. I am extremely excited to start this next phase of my career and look forward to the future.”
Mrs. Fine will stay on through the end of August — which also gives returning families a chance to say goodbye. Ms. Grabowski is running our Summer@Farragut program through the end of July and will officially starts her new role August 1. Please join us in congratulating both Mrs. Fine and Ms. Grabowski.