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April 2015

Principal Selection for Bartram Trail High School

Chris Phelps, assistant principal at Bartram Trail High School has been selected by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner to be the principal of Bartram Trail High School.  His nomination will be presented to the St. Johns County School Board at their May 12 meeting.

Phelps will replace Dawn Sapp, who has been selected as Associate Superintendent for Curriculum Services.


“Dawn Sapp is simply our “go to” person in all areas of curriculum and instruction,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner.  “Her foresight and in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of our current system make her the perfect choice to lead this critical division.  Additionally, under the tutelage of Mr. Egnor I expect a seamless transition in the department.”


Phelps began his career with the St. Johns County School District in 1986 at Allen D. Nease High School where he served as a teacher for geography and U.S. history, dean of students and the athletic director. In 2000, he joined Bartram Trail High School as the assistant principal and head basketball coach.Phelps_Chris

“Chris Phelps simply defines the spirit that is Bartram Trail High School,” said Joyner.  “Having opened the school as an assistant principal in 2000, he has been a significant part of establishing one of the finest high schools I have ever been associated with.  His leadership skills are a perfect match for the needs of the school.”

Phelps has a bachelor’s degree from Tri-State University and a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University in Educational Leadership.

SJESPA Negotiated Agreement

Negotiators for the St. Johns Education Support Professionals (SJESPA) and the St. Johns County School Board have reached a tentative agreement on their 2014-2017 contract for the district’s non-instructional employees.

  • Move one level up on the salary schedule for eligible non-instructional employees for the 2014-2015 school year
  • An increase to the hourly rate of pay which ensures an annual increase that is no less than $450 for those who move one level up to step 13 for the 2014-2015 school year
  • An annual increase of $250 for those at the top of the pay scale for the 2014-2015 school year
  • Changes to the distribution of future insurance premium increases for the School Board and employees

“The negotiation process was a collaborative effort by all parties,” said Cathy Weber, director for Salaries and Benefits, SJCSD. “Recognizing those employees who work so hard to support our students and instructional staff was what we set out to accomplish and we did this by working together.”

“I am very pleased SJESPA and the district were able to finalize the 2014-2017 contract,” said Carolyn Coffey, president of the local SJESPA.  “It’s been a long challenging year; however, I know the improvements and adjustments we made in negotiations will benefit everyone.”

Following ratification, the tentative agreement will be presented to the School Board for acceptance. Though this tentative agreement included the full book, representatives for SJESPA and the SJCSD will meet next school year to negotiate specific articles within the book.

SJESPA is the recognized bargaining agent for the approximately 1,500 non-instructional personnel including teacher aides, clerical staff, bus drivers, custodians, maintenance and food service.



Gamble Rogers Middle School Recognized as a Model Professional Learning Community at Work

Gamble Rogers Middle School was recently recognized by Solution Tree for its sustained success in raising student achievement. The school’s successful implementation of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) at Workprocess was a major contributing factor in the improved achievement of its students.

PLCs are schools and districts in which educators recognize the key to improved learning for students is on-going, job-embedded learning for the adults who serve those students. The three big ideas of a PLC call upon educators to:

  1. Focus on learning.
  2. Build a collaborative culture.
  3. Create a results orientation.

Responding to news of the recognition, Principal Greg Bergamasco said, “All of our hard work has paid off.  I am so proud of our team and overwhelmed with joy.”

Schools are recognized based on strict criteria, including demonstration of a commitment to PLC concepts, implementation of these concepts for at least three years, and clear evidence of improved student learning over that period. Once measurable results can be seen, the school must explain its practices, structures, and culture and submit its application for consideration by the PLC Review Committee.

According to Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, Robert Eaker, and Mike Mattos, architects of PLC at Work™, educators in the schools and districts selected for this recognition have shown “a sustained commitment to helping all of their students achieve at high levels. They have been willing to alter the structure and culture of the organization to reflect their commitment. We applaud them and congratulate them for achieving this very significant milestone on the never-ending PLC journey.”

Recognized model PLC schools are listed on, where they share implementation strategies, structures, and performance with other educators interested in improving their schools. Tools for team collaboration, articles and research about PLCs, blog posts, and other related resources are also available on the site. The site was developed and is maintained by Solution Tree, a leading provider of educational strategies and tools that improve staff and student performance. For more than 20 years, Solution Tree resources have helped K–12 teachers and administrators create schools where all children succeed.


For more information, please contact:
Name: Michelle Davis   
School: Gamble Rogers Middle School
Address: 6250 US 1 South, St. Augustine, FL  32086
Phone: 904-547-8700
Email: [email protected]

Murray Middle and SAHS Recognized as Florida Arts Model Schools

Arts Education lives strong in the heart of R.J. Murray Middle School and St. Augustine High School, whose exemplary arts programs made them two of the best public schools for the arts in the state.

The Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE) recognized 15 Florida public schools as Florida Arts Model Schools. R.J. Murray Middle School received the designation for outstanding programs in Dance, Theater, and Visual Arts Education. St. Augustine High School was recognized for its outstanding programs is Music, Theater and Visual Arts Education. 

“Excellence in Arts Education is still very much a vital goal of the Florida Department of Education,” said Julie Hebert, Executive Director of FAAE. “Through the Florida Arts Model Schools program, we’re ensuring that schools who have made a commitment to providing the highest quality arts programs for their students not only receive the recognition they deserve, but also receive the support they need in order to share the models for their success with schools that want to improve.”

Teams of school administrators and teachers from each of the Florida Arts Model Schools have been presented with full-conference scholarships to FAAE’s annual Leadership Summit in Orlando to further strengthen their engagement with arts education best practices and help them connect with other arts educators and administrators from around the state. The winning schools will also be presented with their Florida Arts Model Schools Award at the Leadership Summit during a special luncheon in their honor on Friday, June 12.

Principal Selection for SAHS

Dr. DeArmas Graham, director of Secondary Education for the Nassau County School Board, has been selected by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner to be the principal of St. Augustine High School.  His nomination will be presented to the St. Johns County School Board at their May 12 meeting.

Graham will replace Cathy Mittelstadt who has been selected as Associate Superintendent for Student Support Services.

“Ms. Mittelstadt has the skills and passion and is the perfect leader to assume this new position,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “Her love of students, all students, will guide her vision for Student Support Services.”

Graham has 20 years of experience in Duval and Nassau counties which includes roles as a teacher at Fletcher Middle School; assistant principal at Mayport Middle, Fernandina High and Yulee High schools; principal at Yulee High School and his current position as director of Secondary Education. He is responsible for implementing the Nassau County School District’s secondary educational program and goals through the development, planning and implementation of curriculum, professional development, school improvement initiatives, and administration evaluation.

“Dr. Graham matches the principal profile developed from staff and community input perfectly,” said Joyner. “I know, under his leadership, St. Augustine High School will maintain the excellence it achieves each year and he will continue to set the bar high in all programs of study and extracurricular activities.”

With a bachelor’s degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Graham also holds master and doctoral degrees from Nova Southeastern University. He has served as a part-time faculty/mentor for doctoral students at Capella University where he received the Stephen Shank Recognition Award which recognizes teaching or mentoring excellence by a faculty member for making a significant difference in a learner’s pathway to success.