PRINCIPAL/ADMINISTRATOR: Michelle McClellan
Phone: (813) 757-9321
Fax: (813) 757-9500
Student Hours: 7:40 AM to 1:55 PM
Uniforms: No Uniforms
Before School Program: No
After School Program: Yes
The Springhead community is located in eastern Hillsborough County near the Polk County line. This area was settled before the Civil War, but more growth occurred after 1865. It received its name because the water was carried from a spring that was dug nearby (Davis, 1914). The early pioneers who journeyed mostly from Georgia were George Hamilton, Joseph Howell, W.M. Clemons, and William M. English. As more settlers arrived they settled on unclaimed property, built log cabins, and began farming. These families raised cattle and drove their cattle to Fort Myers, where they were shipped to Cuba. The main cash crop was oranges until the dreadful freezes of 1894 and 1895. After that time most families began truck farming, raising strawberries and poultry (“Hillsborough County Historic Resources Survey Report,” 1998).
The first Springhead School was attended by only a few students whose parents were able to pay a fee, and the school term was for three months each year. Mr. Belton taught these students in a one-room schoolhouse with seats made from cedar logs. Then, in 1876 the residents of Springhead petitioned the county for a public school which would include grades one through eight, and the request was granted on September 2, 1876. William English, Nathaniel C. Bryant, and William Clemons were selected as the first Trustees. The school was moved several times, and in 1914 a new school was built on its present site on Nesmith Road (“Hillsborough County Historic Resources Survey Report,” 1998). Pauline Davis (1914) wrote, “We have today in place of our old antiquated wooden building; this beautiful modern brick building for which we are justly proud. We are not only proud of our building; we are more proud of our school. The past is interesting. Now wish with me that the future may be more so.”
From 1928 through 1956 Springhead School was a “strawberry school”, which meant that students were out of school from January through March. During these three months, parents depended on their children to help with the strawberry harvesting. Children picked, watered, and covered the berries with Spanish moss when the weather turned cold. A series of articles written in the Tampa Tribune by J.A. Murray in 1946 called the “strawberry schools” inferior schools. He felt the system was exploitative and academically deficient (“The Florida Memory Blog,” 2016). Leland Hawes (1995), a Tampa Tribune writer, published an article in 1995 about the end of the strawberry schools. Farmers were angry and felt threatened because they depended on their children to make a living. In 1956 the county school board abolished the “strawberry schools” in Hillsborough County. Superintendent Farnell felt it was one of his greatest accomplishments in education because it resulted in tremendous improvements in rural education. After the close of the “strawberry schools” many little farms were phased out and migrant workers were used to harvest berries on the larger farms (Hawes, 1995).
The Springhead community is still a rural area that is not incorporated by Plant City. The population of this community, according to the U.S Census in 2010, is around 4,000 people with 66 percent being not Hispanic or Latino and 34 percent being Hispanic or Latino. 58 percent are White, 25 percent are Black, 0.5 percent are American Indian or Alaska native and 0.75 percent are Asian.
The school, churches, and farms still play a prominent role in the lives of many Springhead families, but the area is slowly changing. In the past five years subdivisions have been built and many families from other areas are moving to Springhead where they can enjoy the rural life with the advantages of being close to Plant City, Lakeland, and Tampa.
Springhead Elementary is now comprised of Head Start through grade five. The original auditorium was built in 1928 and is still in use today as the Sandra E. Black Media Center. We have grown from the one teacher that began teaching at the Springhead School in 1876 to sixty-eight instructional personnel, two assistant principals, and a principal. We also have thirty-seven instructional support personnel that help to make our school run efficiently and effectively. Currently, our school enrollment is 924 students.