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August 2016

Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year

Cynthia Williams, principal of St. Johns Technical High School (SJTHS) and St. Johns Virtual School (SJVS), has been selected as the St. Johns County School District’s (SJCSD) nominee for the 2016-2017 Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership and Jeanette Murphy, assistant principal at Cunningham Creek Elementary School (CCES), was chosen as the district’s nominee for the 2016-2017 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.

Williams has been the principal of SJTHS since 2014 and was appointed as principal of SJVS in 2016.  With a career in education spanning 27 years, Williams has served as the turnaround specialist and assistant principal at SJTHS and assistant principal at Pedro Menendez High School and South Woods and Hastings elementary schools. From 1995-1999, she was the guidance counselor at Hastings Elementary School. She was selected as the St. Johns County Teacher of the Year in 1998 and went on to represent the district at the state level. She also worked in higher education supporting students in their quest for academic success at Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Bethune-Cookman University.

SJTHS has expanded programs under Williams’ leadership and she never misses an opportunity to market the school to potential students and their parents. She was instrumental in adding sixth grade to the school in order to serve more students in a way that meets their career goals and learning styles. The graduation rate of SJTHS students has nearly doubled under her tenure and she implemented the Academy of Culinary Arts last year.

“Cynthia is a wonderful example of outstanding leadership and her focus to ensure an individual learning path for her students is admirable,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner.  “She is dedicated to ensuring that we hire the very best through her overwhelming commitment to the district’s recruitment efforts and it is not uncommon that she remains a mentor to new teachers years after their first days in the classroom.”

Williams holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree as well as certification in Educational Leadership from FAMU.

Outstanding Assistant Principal Nominee Jeanette Murphy has over 19 years of combined educational experience. Before joining St. Johns County in 2004 as a middle school math teacher, she was an elementary school teacher and reading specialist in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. In 2008, she became the assistant principal at John A. Crookshank Elementary and went on to serve in this capacity at Fruit Cove Middle School before joining CCES in 2015.

As an assistant principal Murphy has developed and guided a team to review and create a standards-based grading policy and served as a mentor to other assistant principals. Her love of professional development has spurred her to form a leadership cadre, perform technology demonstrations and create professional learning communities for paraprofessionals and new teachers.

“Jeanette takes the initiative to ensure that she becomes ingrained in the culture of a school,” said Joyner. “At CCES she has furthered efforts to recognize students through CHARACTER COUNTS! and streamlined processes at the school to be more efficient.”

Murphy holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and a master’s degree from Barry University. She also has a certificate in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University.

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

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Opening Day 2016

The student count for the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) on opening day, August 10, 2016, was 34,906, an increase of 1,850 students or 5.3 percent over last year’s first day number of 33,056. St. Johns County has continued to be one of the fastest growing school districts in the state.

The high school student count was 11,016 with 2,259 students at Bartram Trail High School, 1,958 at Creekside High School, 1,307 at Pedro Menendez High School, 2,193 at Allen D. Nease High School, 1,663 at Ponte Vedra High School and 1,636 at St. Augustine High School. There were also 270 students in attendance at St. Johns Technical High School (SJTHS).

Middle school attendance totaled 7,101, with student headcounts ranging from 660 at Sebastian Middle School to 1,334 at Pacetti Bay Middle School. The other first day figures were Alice B. Landrum Middle School with 1,134, Fruit Cove Middle School with 1,165, R. J. Murray Middle School with 700, Gamble Rogers Middle School with 857 and Switzerland Point Middle School with 1,251.

The district’s K-8 schools totaled 4,180. Liberty Pines Academy had a first day headcount of 1,372, Patriot Oaks Academy with 1,362 and Valley Ridge Academy with 1,446.

The elementary school population totaled 12,008; however, this count includes approximately 33 percent of the kindergarten population since schools stagger the kindergarten start date over a three-day period. Another 331 students are enrolled at the district’s alternative, charter and Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) schools.

First Coast Technical College has 343 students enrolled in its adult education and dual enrollment programs at the St. Augustine, Palatka, Barge Port and North campuses. This number does not include those students enrolled in night programs that start today.

“Today was a wonderful start to the school year and I am very pleased with the planning and preparation that was evident as principals, teachers and support staff welcomed the students,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “I witnessed our students reconnecting with friends and ready to begin their learning. The custodial and maintenance staffs have worked hard to ensure that our schools presented well and will function even better. The food service team was very organized and ready to meet the needs of our growing district.”

“I am thankful to our transportation department, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and their PSAs, as well as the numerous crossing guards who ensure children get to and from our schools safely,” he added. “I am also very appreciative to our parents for their continued support and their patience as we work through the first few days of this school year.”

SJCSD staff will continue to monitor attendance numbers, balance classrooms and refine bus routes throughout the week.

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