Cannella Elementary School, located in Tampa, is named after the late Xavier Cannella Sr., a Hillsborough County Public Schools educator and principal for 40 years.
Cannella Elementary opened in August 1992.
Who was Xavier Cannella?
He was born in 1919, the son of Italian immigrants. He came to Tampa in high school to visit a cousin and loved it so much he decided to move here. He attended the University of Tampa. He was in US Army Air Corp and entered as a Sergeant, witnessed Pearl Harbor and served in WW11 in Intelligence Branch. He earned a Master’s in Education from Columbia University. Xavier married his wife, Phyllis in 1949. Phyllis was a violinist with the Tampa Symphony. They had two sons- one became a teacher and the other a Vascular Surgeon in Tampa.
Xavier received his degree in secondary and higher education and became a Principal here in Hillsborough County for 4 decades! He was Principal at Henderson, DeSoto & Oak Park Elementary schools. Zavier was a man who did not understand prejudice- he simply could not wrap his mind around it. He believed every child deserved an education and stopped at nothing to help make that happen. He was very involved and a significant force in the community
After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he was known to have personally walked the first African American to her classroom seat, to ensure she was comfortable and accepted. Every morning he would go to different bus stops to make sure the kids were allowed on the bus and comfortable on the bus. He is written about in several newspapers and books for that very role
Zavier was a trailblazer – someone who believed in the goodness in human beings and believed in always doing the right thing.