In order to protect the health and safety of employees, staff, and students, all those who access Pasco County School locations must self-screen for symptoms and other risk factors of COVID-19 daily. If you answer YES to any of the questions, you should NOT be on campus. Access the Visitor Screener or the Student Screener online. Employees should use the Employee Self-Screener.


As principal of Gulf Trace Elementary, welcome to the Sea Star website!  We are delighted to have you as our guest and invite you to take some time to browse our site.  We hope that the information you find here will help you learn about our school’s efforts to increase student achievement, as well as the many activities we offer throughout the school year.  Our school is home to over 600 bright and enthusiastic learners in grades Pre-kindergarten through fifth, as well as a dedicated and supportive staff.


Principal – Kara Abbatello




Assistant Principal – Denise Ballard


My name is Denise Ballard and I am the Assistant Principal at Gulf Trace Elementary. I am a Tampa Bay graduate and spent my entire K-12 education in Pinellas county. I began my higher learning through the University of Maryland in Aviano, Italy where I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration. I continued my education at the University of South Carolina, Spartanburg, where I received my elementary education training in 2004. Once that was completed, my family and I decided to come back home to the Tampa Bay area and I have been a teacher for the past 12 years in Hillsborough and Pasco Counties. While teaching, I received my Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in 2014 from St. Leo University and was given the opportunity to move into administration here at Gulf Trace.

On any given day, I am out walking my dog, spending time with my two girls, or enjoying all the benefits of living in the Sunshine State! I enjoy reading in my downtime and learning new things.

I am very excited to continue my educational journey with a wonderful group of educators, staff, families, and students at Gulf Trace Elementary. It is my belief all students can excel to their highest potential through positive support and encouragement. I am looking forward to getting to know everyone and working with our community as we watch our students grow!