In 1976, Mrs. Heather J. Rose Fiorentino was among the first students to attend the newly established West Campus of then Pasco-Hernando Community College. She graduated with an Associate in Arts degree in 1978, and then transferred to the University of South Florida, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education.
Mrs. Fiorentino taught sign language at the college from 1982–1987 and co-founded the Deaf Service Center in Pasco County. She enjoyed teaching at Elfers/Mittye P. Locke Elementary School, receiving the honor of Pasco School District Teacher of the Year in 1994. During her teaching career, Mrs. Fiorentino served on the New Port Richey City Council for three consecutive terms.
Shortly after leaving the city council, Mrs. Fiorentino transferred to the district office of Pasco Schools and also served in the Florida House of Representatives, District 46. During six years of legislative service, she received countless accolades, including Legislator of the Year awards from associations representing Florida sheriffs, school boards and superintendents. She remained passionate about improving Florida’s education system, serving as a chief architect of the School Code Rewrite, an extensive 1,776-page bill. After her third term in office, she stepped down to spend more time with her family.
With encouragement from Dr. Robert W. Judson Jr., PHSC’s second president, Mrs. Fiorentino ran and in 2004, became the first female superintendent for Pasco County Schools. During her tenure, the Pasco County School District became the seventh in the state to attain districtwide Southern Association of Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement. Under her leadership, Gulf Trace Elementary School became the first Florida LEED Certified Silver School for energy efficiency. Additionally, Career Academies were established in all Pasco high schools, 20 new schools were built to meet Pasco’s population growth and class size amendment mandates, graduation rates increased, and the district maintained “A” or “B” grades from the state.
Since retirement in 2012, Mrs. Fiorentino continues to give back to the community, volunteering at her church and with a variety of civic and non-profit organizations. She has published books featuring the stories of individuals who have battled cancer. Her soon-to-be published cartoon book profiles the emotional journey of cancer survivors with humor and hope.
Joseph Fiorentino, her husband of 33 years, and children, Joseph IV, and Jennifer Jeanne continue to be the focus of her life.