2013 Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year

Craig Speziale, principal of Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS), has been selected as the St. Johns County School District’s (SJCSD) nominee for the 2013 Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership.

Jessica Richardson, assistant principal at Cunningham Creek Elementary School (CCES), was chosen as the district’s nominee for the Outstanding Assistant Principal Achievement Award.

These programs honor principals and assistant principals who utilize teamwork and leadership skills to increase student performance, establish partnerships with parents and community members, and promote safe learning environments.

Awardees are also recognized for ethical leadership and their use of innovative technology as well as their commitment to forging personal, social, economic, and cultural relationships in the classroom, the school and the community to build and support a learning organization focused on student success.

Speziale has been the principal of PVHS since he joined the SJCSD in 2007. Prior to this he served as a principal, assistant principal and teacher throughout the Miami area.

Under Speziale’s leadership, PVHS has realized an increase in AP participation and students’ scores every year. For the last four consecutive years, a student in the Academy of Biotechnology and Medical Research at PVHS has received the honor to compete on behalf of St. Johns County in the International Science Fair. The Academy of International Business and Marketing earned model status from the National Career Academy Coalition and has developed a wonderful partnership with THE PLAYERS to promote its tournament through social media.

“Craig is a fine example of outstanding leadership,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “His work at Ponte Vedra High has been stellar and we are very fortunate in St. Johns County to have such high performing principals. Craig truly motivates and encourages excellence in his students, administrative staff and teachers. I am proud and honored to work with him.”

Speziale holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, a master’s degree from Barry University and a certificate in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

Outstanding Assistant Principal Nominee Jessica Richardson started her teaching career in St. Johns County 14 years ago and is in her second full year of serving as assistant principal at CCES. Richardson has taught second, third and fourth grade as well as serving as an instructional literacy coach for two and a half years. Most of her career thus far has been spent at PVPV/Rawlings Elementary School. Some of Richardson’s fondest memories of teaching come from years spent working with students in the unique learning environment that an inclusion classroom offers.

Utilizing technology and instructional resources to bring learning to life, while allowing all students to capitalize on their strengths, is what makes Richardson smile. Seeing students actively engaged in learning and growing as leaders is why Richardson became a teacher and ultimately why she decided to become an administrator. She is committed to high standards and expectations of excellence in education, collaborative leadership models, and meeting the learning and life needs of the students, staff, and families of CCES.

“Jessica possesses a very positive, can-do attitude and her work with our ESE population is amazing,” said Joyner. “She faces challenges with a very high degree of professionalism and competence.”

Richardson holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida, a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University and is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher in the area of Middle Childhood Generalist.

These two St. Johns County nominations will be forwarded to the state where the nominees will compete at the regional level. The statewide winner in each category will be announced later this year.