Meet Tom Topping
Educator | Coach | Administrator | Entrepreneur
I have been a Pinellas County resident since 1999 when my wife, Michelle and I moved to Clearwater to continue our educational journey at Dixie Hollins High School. I was a teacher in the Dropout Prevention program and Michelle taught in the Exceptional Student Education department. My educational career has been buoyed by my community experience in teaching and coaching a diverse cross-section of kids from across the District. I have taught and coached students and athletes from every corner of Pinellas County.
My parents raised me to value education and servant leadership. As a result, I was the first in my family to earn a college degree. They were filled with pride as they watched me walk across the Stetson University stage with a bachelor’s degree in hand. However, I was not finished learning. While teaching and coaching in Pinellas County, I attended evening classes and earned a master’s degree in human resources management from Strayer University in 2013.
I worked in public education for 23 years before starting my company, Training Perfected, and embarking on a career as a professional speaker, corporate trainer, and business coach. I still consider myself an educator and lifelong learner but now I teach adults how to maximize their professional performance and create more happiness in their careers.
An aspect of my business background that brings me great pride is the 15 years I spent as the Director/Head Coach of the Nike Team Florida traveling basketball team. Many of my players went on to win high school, state, and national basketball championships, as well as NCAA Division I National Championships and NBA championships. Six of my Nike Team Florida alumni have been drafted by NBA teams. None of that compares, however, to the impact that the student athletes who played in our program will have on this nation as over 120 Nike Team Florida alumni received full college basketball scholarships (an estimated value of $15 million dollars.)
I love technology, writing, and reading. I have a voracious appetite for strategic thinking and love to discuss “the future of work” in all industries, including education. I proudly support the Tampa Bay Bucs, Lightning, and Rays, but I am an NBA and college basketball fan to my core. I am proudly plant-based and rarely miss a daily hot yoga class. I am happily married to my wife, Michelle, who serves Pinellas County Schools as the Director for Educational Alternative Services. We have called Pinellas County home for the last two decades. We have 5 godchildren, 2 still attend Pinellas County schools. If you run into us in public, we kindly ask that you not judge us based on the behavior of our spoiled but adorable toy schnauzer, Ellee.
Tom understands what great teaching looks like, in practice and in theory. As an educator, he has maintained a long-term belief that all students can learn and that students will meet the levels of expectation set by their teachers. Students need to trust that their teachers care and show confidence in them before they will fully begin to grow. He knows that excellent teaching is organized and planned with meaningful goals and objectives. He believes that districts, principals, departments, and teachers are accountable for creating a positive and impactful culture of equitable learning within their ecosystems.
As a devoted life-long learner, Tom is a true advocate for continuing education. He is unwavering in his belief that teachers, staff, and administrators need sustained cutting-edge training. The world of education in 2020 and beyond is changing by the moment. All educators need a seat at the table in order to better serve children.
Tom understands the importance of communication. He recognizes that outstanding teachers and administrators communicate frequently with students and parents. He recognizes that teachers need to be subject matter and pedagogical experts, and if they are not, they should be provided opportunities to gain that expertise.