Some of the city’s best kept secrets reach beyond the restaurants with Michelin Guide distinctions and the state-protected parks where endangered animals roam. Sometimes it’s the places that have withstood the test of time and have overcome struggle. It’s the corner of a neighborhood that has opened its doors and expanded its footprint to welcome as many families as possible to be a part of its community; a special site, tucked away across 10 acres of land, where faith, inclusivity, diversity and kindness are practiced daily in its ministry for over 50 years.
More than a place, Bayshore Christian School is a symbol of strength. And this “well-kept secret” is well-poised to welcome more students from across the globe, from every background, and from any Christian denomination to invigorate the future. This is made possible by teachers committed to academic excellence, strong faith-based values and the leadership of Melanie Humenansky – Head of School and a mom to know.
Tell us about your family’s legacy at Bayshore Christian School (BCS) and how you came to lead the 50+ year old establishment after your father was in the same role?
Melanie Humenansky: I began my journey at Bayshore Christian School as a fifth-grade student in 1982. My father, Herman Valdes, was the new Dean of Students and the boys’ basketball coach for the 1982-83 school year, and the following year he became the Head of School until 1991. I graduated from BCS in 1990 and attended school at the University of South Florida (USF) to pursue a degree in early childhood and elementary education. I graduated from USF in 1993 and began teaching for the School District of Hillsborough County; however, I also returned to Bayshore Christian School as the assistant volleyball coach in 1993 and became the head volleyball coach in 1994.
My husband of 28 years, W. Scott Humenansky, is also a Bayshore Christian School graduate (class of 1988) and our two children, Jordan (class of 2016) and Allison (class of 2018) are BCS alum. The school holds a very special place in our lives.
During my tenure with the School District of Hillsborough County, my father had returned to the public school system to retire from Monroe Middle School as the Principal and to retire again from Robinson High School. However, even though he was officially retired, he was asked to return to Bayshore Christian School as interim administrator as they pursued a search for a new Head of School. The interim position lasted a bit longer than expected and he was named the Head of School once more.
In the spring of 2012, I was in the final steps of completing the Preparing New Principals program with SDHC. I was beginning the journey into becoming a principal within the county. It was also during this time I was asked to participate and chaperone a mission trip to the Dominican Republic with Bayshore Christian School’s high school students.
Upon returning from this opportunity, I found my father in the hospital. It was time for him to retire once and for all to take care of his health. I interviewed with both the county and the Board of Directors for Bayshore Christian School. I always felt in my heart I would return to BCS in a role of leadership, and this was truly God’s way of nudging me home to be on campus in more than the role of a coach and a parent. I stopped pursuing a career in the public school system and accepted the position as the Head of School at BCS.
What are some little-known facts and highlights about the school that many local families may not know?
Melanie Humenansky: I am always surprised to learn that many people do not realize we serve students from preschool to high school. We have been a part of the South Tampa community for 51 years, and while people drive by 3909. S. MacDill, they often don’t turn to see this amazing school nestled in the Bayshore Beautiful Community.
Another proud highlight is the academic excellence achieved by our students here, and the institutions in which our students are accepted to post-graduation. We offer dual enrollment classes with Hillsborough Community College. We offer Advanced Placement courses, and many opportunities in athletics, performing arts and global opportunities as our students participate in yearly mission trips and activities.
One of our most prized activities on campus is our buddy system in which students in fifth to 12th grade are paired with our 2-year-olds through fourth-grade students. This program allows students to establish relationships with peer role models that will last throughout their entire time at BCS.
Here are some facts we call “Bayshore: By the Numbers”:
- 100% Graduation Rate
- 100% College Acceptance Rate
- 29 Average Highest Single Student GPA
- 4 Average Graduating Class Size
- 9 AP Classes Offered
- 4 Dual Enrollment Classes Offered On-Campus Annually
- 7 Honor Societies
- 121 Average Service Hours Per Graduate
- $342,000 Average Highest Individual College Scholarship
- $85,000 Average College Scholarship
- 9 Varsity Athletics Teams for grades 7-12
- 10 Straz Broadway Star of the Future Awards
- 38% Diversity Rate
Bayshore Christian School recently shared a very exciting update for the campus location in South Tampa. Can you explain what happened?
Melanie Humenansky: Bayshore Christian School was excited to announce the outcome of a four-and-a-half-year litigation over the use of the property at 3909 S. MacDill Ave. We are blessed to continue to maintain our home address of the past 51 years at 3909 S. MacDill where our families and alumni have a place to return- the gym in which they participated and learned to win or lose with grace and humility; a chapel/sanctuary where they attended weekly services or had encounters with Jesus; the classrooms they learned to become scholars to achieve greatness as doctors, lawyers, pastors, military generals, and where they gained the abilities to pursue any career they put their God-given talents to work for and, of course, where they made friendships for a lifetime.
As the verdict was shared, lead trial counsel on the case, Daniel Dalton of Dalton & Tomich PCL was quoted saying, “This decision would allow BCS to continue its ministry.” What is the ministry of the school?
Melanie Humenansky: The vision of our ministry is to serve the Greater Tampa Bay area and to shape young people in Christ to make an impact in the world. The small class sizes, the ability and freedom to teach Christian values and academic excellence are what make Bayshore the unique hidden gem in the South Tampa community. We are a non-denominational Christian school with the mission to challenge, develop and empower students for leadership by following the example of Jesus to “grow in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52
As fate would have it, your daughter, a BCS alum and recent USF graduate, has come back to work at the school: “Once a Faith Warrior, Always a Faith Warrior.” This is also true for other members of your staff who are former students or even family to one another. What do you attribute this sense of loyalty and community to?
Melanie Humenansky: While a student at USF during COVID, my daughter, Allison, became instrumental in assisting us with video updates, social posts and keeping our families connected virtually during a trying time for all. She was using the newly acquired skills and volunteering to put these skills to work at her school, Bayshore Christian School. Upon graduation, Allison was hired as the Digital Enhancement Coordinator and works with our team to create video footage, social media clips and a great deal of communication that comes from within our school body.
Allison, along with her brother, Jordan, are also vital to the continued growth of the volleyball program, as they were both raised in the gym alongside mom, learning to both play and coach along the way. Jordan played volleyball at USF, and both have assisted coaching for the past four to six years.
Many of our teachers are alumni. They return to BCS because they value the education they received and they want to pass on the legacy to future generations, including their own children who also attend the school. Here are a few examples: we have a Kindergarten teacher, Kristin Chapman, who has children in all divisions at BCS. Kristin not only teaches but also coaches on campus. Nicole Kemp is our media specialist and technology coordinator.
She is also our cheerleading coach and she has her two young children as a part of the Faith Warrior Community. Antoinette Kolbe is our Upper Division Coordinator, and she is also a mom of a Faith Warrior. These are just to name a few, but there are many others who are grandparents to a Faith Warrior, or who have served the BCS community for 25+ years. The legacy of Bayshore Christian School is alive and well, as we now see second and third generations of Faith Warriors on campus.
What are your favorite things to do with your family in Tampa Bay?
Melanie Humenansky: Our favorite activities include most anything outdoors. We love boating, fishing in the Bay or beyond the Skyway, and supporting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. We are also Straz Broadway season ticket holders. But our most favorite pastime is supporting an amazing ministry right here at Bayshore Christian School. You’ll find us here on the weekends sprucing up the grounds, preparing for an event or making improvements for our students.
*Originally published in the April 2023 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.