About Heather Hanks

Heather Hanks is the assistant principal at Plant City High School in Plant City, Florida. She currently serves as the chapter leader of CSTA Florida and on the advisory boards for NASEF and HSEL. You can download a current resumé here.

Previously, Heather taught Tech Support Client, Networking, and Specialized Tech as the Bloomingdale Genius program at Bloomingdale High School. She also taught AP Computer Science Principles and robotics and served as the Career & Technical Department Head. She started the district’s first academic and competitive esports program as a teacher and coach there, and continues to support the growth of esports district wide through the Tampa Bay STEM Network and the Florida Scholastic Esports League. She also serves as a facilitator for AP Computer Science Principles for Code.org with the Tampa Bay STEM Network, supporting professional development that focuses on equity in computer science.

Formerly, Heather taught AP Studio Art 2-D Design with a concentration in photography, Digital Art Imaging I, Journalism 1, Journalism II-V, Social Media 1, Digital Design 1 and Digital Information Technology at Bloomingdale High School. She formerly advised the yearbook, Minotaur, and newsmagazine, Bull’s Eye, and sponsored the Gay-Straight Alliance, Odyssey of the Mind, Quill and Scroll Honor Society, and National Art Honor Society. Heather also taught 7th grade gifted science at Turkey Creek Middle School, earning the Science Teacher of Promise Award and leading the science club and extramural athletics. She served as a new teacher mentor for one year in 2015-2016, and in a hybrid role as both teacher and instructional coach as a Teacher Talent Developer for two years from 2016-2018.

A graduate of Bloomingdale High School, she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a journalism major with a concentration in visual communications. She graduated with a B.A. from the University of Florida with a major in history. She has a masters in Educational Leadership from Saint Leo University.

She is certified in Florida to teach Computer Science (K-12), Engineering & Technology Education (6-12), Business Education (6-12) Journalism (6-12), Art (K-12), English (6-12), Middle Grades Integrated Curriculum (5-9), ESOL (K-12), Exceptional Student Education (K-12), Elementary Education (K-6), and holds a Gifted and Reading endorsement and certification in Educational Leadership.

She was also recognized by the Journalism Education Association as a nationally certified Master Journalism Educator, and was honored as a national JEA Rising Star in 2012. She was also the Tampa Bay FSPA District Journalism Teacher in 2012 and a finalist for state journalism teacher of the year, and earned the Gold Medallion award, FSPA’s highest award for contributions to scholastic journalism in Florida. She was also Bloomingdale High School’s Teacher of the Year in 2011-2012. She earned her National Board Certification in 2013 in Career and Technical Education. In 2016, she was named one of 40 Florida Teacher Leader Fellows, working with the UF Lastinger Center, and completed their first Leading for Equity cohort program in 2017. She is one of 27 educators internationally named a 2018 ASCD Emerging Leader. She also completed the Leadership Florida Education program in 2019, participating in Class IV. She was named one of the 40 Gators Under 40 for 2021, earning the Outstanding Young Alumni award from the University of Florida.

She has recently completed a Certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace and a Certificate in Post-Crisis Leadership from the University of South Florida Muma College of Business. She is currently working on a Certificate in School Management and Leadership from the Harvard Business School and Harvard Graduate School of Education and an Educational Specialist degree in Leadership from the American College of Education.

She is the proud mother of Tegan, 10 years old, and Atticus, 7 years old, both twice-exceptional gifted students at the Boyette Springs Center for Gifted Studies, and wife to James, who teaches Latin and esports at Newsome High School.

Contact her here.


”Showcasing Teachers to Enhance Professional Development” in ASCD EdAdvantage on Professional Learning (March 2020)


Presentation on Esports, NASSP National Principals Conference (July 2021)

The Esports Playbook for Launching Learning & Engagement, ASCD Annual Conference (June 2021)

Personal Passions Ignite Talk with 2018 Emerging Leaders, ASCD Empower Los Angeles, LA (March 2020, cancelled due to COVID-19)

The Steps to Building a Successful NASEF Scholastic Esports Program In or Out of School: A Hands-On Workshop, STEM Learning Ecosystems Spring Convening San Antonio, TX (March 2020)

Florida’s Statewide Innovative Approach to STEM Thru Esports, Keynote Panel at STEM Learning Ecosystems Fall Convening Cleveland, OH (October 2019)

Teacher Leaders Transforming Professional Development: Join Us in the Journey, International Teacher Leadership Conference Miami, FL (March 2017)

Teaching Social Media 1 in Florida, Florida Scholastic Press Association State Convention (May 2014)

Getting Involved with Scholastic Journalism at the Local, State and National Levels, ASNE High School Journalism Workshop, Columbia, MO (July 2012)

Yearbook Trends for 2012, Herff Jones Spring Day Away Yearbook Workshop, Dover, FL (April 2012)

Chronological Yearbooks, Yearbookpalooza, Orlando, FL (July 2011)

Modern Design for Modern Yearbooks, Herff Jones Spring Day Away Yearbook Workshop, Tampa, FL (May 2010)

Organizing Your Yearbook Staff, Herff Jones Spring Day Away Yearbook Workshop, Brandon, FL (May 2009)

Odyssey of the Mind, National Association for Gifted Children Annual Convention (November 2008)

Selling Yearbooks Creatively, Herff Jones Spring Day Away Yearbook Workshop, Brandon, FL (May 2008)