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 a school campus or school district office. All three self-screeners – the Student Self-Screener, the Employee Self-Screener, and the Visitor Self-Screener – are accessible from the district’s COVID-19 protocols page and are posted on each school web page.


Principal – Kara Abbatello


My name is Kara Abbatello and it is with great pleasure that I introduce myself to you as Principal of Gulf Trace Elementary!  It is truly an honor to be a part of the Gulf Trace family and community!

I come to you with over twenty years of experience as an educator, fifteen of those years as a classroom teacher in Kindergarten, 3rd, 4th and 5th grades.  Although I have always felt at home in the classroom, it was my position as an Assistant Principal at Dr. Mary Giella Elementary and then at James M. Marlowe where I have been most fulfilled in my life’s work.

The elementary principalship provides me the chance to work collaboratively with teachers on a daily basis, while also remaining connected to young students learning and growing in the classroom. I firmly believe that every child can excel and that the partnership between home and school builds confidence in students to use their powers to shape their future and the future of our community.


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!