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December 2017

Teacher of the Year Finalists 2017-2018

Superintendent Tim Forson, along with School Board Chair Bill Mignon and School Board Member Bev Slough, as well as school district staff and representatives from INK!, The Players, Beaver Toyota and Carlyle paid a surprise visit to the Teacher of the Year finalists at their schools. This year, the finalists were also treated to a visit from a very special guest, Bucky the Beaver. The finalists are Amy Grimm from Julington Creek Elementary School (JCES); Kathleen Hunting from Osceola Elementary School (OES); Jonathan Higgins from Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS); and Chassity Johnson from Sebastian Middle School (SMS).

Amy Grimm is a first-grade teacher at JCES and a mentor to other teachers who considers it her responsibility to model being a leader to her students. She believes in developing and supporting the whole child and takes a thematic approach in her classroom. It is not uncommon for her to also be seen at her students’ extracurricular activities supporting and cheering them on. She has 22 years of teaching experience all within the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD). Her message to fellow teachers is that what they do matters and they are loved, capable and important each and every day.

Kathleen Hunting teaches second grade at OES and is a school wide leader in technology who loves sharing what she learns with her students and colleagues. She is continually inspired by her students and has the privilege of seeing them grow emotionally and academically each day. At OES, she has served as a Girls on the Run coach for the past six years to help third through fifth grade girls be positive and become strong, independent leaders. She has six years of teaching experience all within the SJCSD. Her message to students is that the only reason she exists in the school setting is to provide a safe and nurturing academic environment for them.

Jonathan Higgins is an IB Psychology teacher for 11th and 12th grade students and was instrumental in creating the IB program at PMHS. Student and parent praise are what drives him as an educator and reminds him that doing what is in his heart is far more important than a numerical score. He has nine years of teaching experience all in the SJCSD.  His message to others is to focus on the aspirations of each student, regardless of his/her academic ability and that all students should be afforded the opportunity to participate in advanced courses or various programs of study if they desire regardless of their skills and abilities.

Chassity Johnson is an eighth grade pre-algebra and geometry teacher at SMS who also participates in the student intern program St. Augustine High School’s Teaching Academy each year affording her the opportunity to welcome many former students into her classroom in a different role. She realizes that many of her students may have unfavorable situations outside of school and she is inspired to be the constant figure in their lives. She has 14 years of teaching experience, 10 of which have been in the SJCSD. Her message to other teachers is best relayed in a quote from Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

The annual Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year Celebration is produced by the INK! to recognize excellence in the teaching profession. For more information on INK visit https://ink-stjohns.org/.

Principal Appointments for Ocean Palms Elementary School and Palencia Elementary School

December 18, 2017

Tiffany Cantwell, assistant principal at The Webster School, has been selected by Superintendent Tim Forson to be the principal of Ocean Palms Elementary. She will replace Jessica Richardson who was approved by the school board earlier this month as the principal of K-8 school “KK” currently being constructed at 2135 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra, 32095. Her nomination will be presented to the school board at their January 9 meeting.

Catherine (Peralta) Goodrich, assistant principal at Palencia Elementary School (PES), has been selected by Superintendent Forson to be the principal of PES. She will replace Allen Anderson who was approved earlier this month as the principal of K-8 school “LL” currently being constructed at 1365 Shetland Drive, St. Johns, 32259. Her nomination will be presented to the school board at their January 9 meeting.

Cantwell is currently serving the district as its Outstanding Assistant Principal for the 2017-2018 school year. She has over 16 years of educational experience joining the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) in 2001 as a fourth-grade teacher at Cunningham Creek Elementary. She went on to teach at PVPV/Rawlings Elementary and became the curriculum resource coordinator there. In 2013, she was appointed as assistant principal at The Webster School.

“Tiffany is extremely dedicated to her staff and students, and I have no doubt this will transfer to her new OPES family,” said Forson. “She knows the community and already has many established relationships with families and students.”

As an assistant principal, Cantwell 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.

“OPES has an outstanding reputation, and I am proud to join such a devoted staff and committed community,” said Cantwell. “Along with the exceptional teachers and staff, I will strive to continue the legacy of success established at OPES by building strong relationships with parents, students and community partners.”

Cantwell holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Thomas University in Miami and a master’s degree from the University of North Florida.
Goodrich started her educational teaching career over 25 years ago. She joined the SJCSD in 2005 as a second-grade teacher at Timberlin Creek Elementary. She served as the instructional literacy coach there before becoming its assistant principal in 2010. In 2013 she was named the assistant principal at Osceola Elementary and served there for two years before joining the SJCSD Human Resources Department as the employee evaluation coordinator. In 2016 she became the assistant principal at PES.

“Catherine is an exceptional leader and will provide a seamless transition for the Palencia Pirates,” said Forson. “She has already garnered the unwavering commitment and support from parents and the community, and I know this will continue in her new role.”

Her passion is helping others to develop their full potential to best serve the students of St. Johns County, and her experiences have included the opportunity to train, coach, observe and evaluate employees. She has also served students in the areas of developing math curriculum mapping at the district level and as a mentor to both elementary and high school age children.
“I am beyond humbled to be chosen as Palencia Elementary School’s educational leader,” said Goodrich. “Our school is overflowing with a brilliant combination of individuals: bright-eyed children and dynamic staff willing to do whatever it takes to ensure our students are safe, well cared for and are achieving at high levels.”
Goodrich holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and a master’s degree from the University of North Florida.
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Principal Appointment for K-8 School “LL”

Allen Anderson, principal at Palencia Elementary School (PES), has been selected by Superintendent Tim Forson to be the principal of K-8 school “LL” currently being constructed at 1365 Shetland Drive, St. Johns, 32259. His nomination will be presented to the School Board at their December 12 meeting.

“Allen is an innovative and collaborative leader,” said Forson. “I know that his familiarity with the community and ability to build rapport with students and parents will serve him well.”

Anderson has been the principal of PES since the 2013-2014 school year and has more than 20 years of experience within the SJCSD. Prior to PES he served as principal at Cunningham Creek Elementary (CCES), assistant principal at Mill Creek Elementary and Durbin Creek Elementary schools, a curriculum coordinator at Switzerland Point Middle School and a teacher at CCES.

PES has expanded its digital instruction and student use under Anderson’s leadership. He has made maintaining a positive school culture a high priority and ensures that state and district mandates are communicated in a way that supports the school’s mission and vision. He is extremely supportive of his staff and always lauds their successes, even when they won’t.

“I am very thankful for the trust and confidence from Superintendent Forson,” said Anderson. “While changing schools is always a bittersweet experience, I look forward to once again serving those in the Northwest part of our wonderful county.”

Anderson was recently chosen as the 2017-2018 Principal of the Year for St. Johns County. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of North Florida and a master’s degree from Jacksonville University.

Forson will gather input from staff and the community for the new principal of PES on Thursday, Dec. 7 at 3:30 p.m. at PES.

Principal Appointment for K-8 School “KK”

Jessica Richardson, principal at Ocean Palms Elementary School (OPES), has been selected by Superintendent Tim Forson to be the principal of K-8 school “KK” currently being constructed at 2135 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra, 32095. Her nomination will be presented to the school board at their December 12 meeting.

“Jessica has an innate ability to develop strong and lasting connections with students, staff, families and community members,” said Forson. “She is the perfect candidate to provide a smooth transition to the new school.”

Richardson started her teaching career in St. Johns County 18 years ago and joined Ocean Palms as principal in 2014. Prior to this she served as the assistant principal at Cunningham Creek Elementary. She also taught second, third and fourth grade and served as an instructional literacy coach. Before joining CCES she worked at PVPV/Rawlings Elementary School and Ocean Palms Elementary School, where she held her first position with the district as a third grade teacher.

Meeting the social, emotional and academic needs of each student, every day is paramount to Richardson. Creating and cultivating a school environment where students can find personal success and embark on educational experiences that will shape their future is a priority of her service-oriented leadership model.

“I am very enthusiastic about continuing my professional journey alongside the students, staff, and families in Northeast St. Johns County,” said Richardson.

Richardson was named St. Johns County Assistant Principal of the Year in 2013. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida and a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University.

Forson will gather input from staff and the community for the new principal of OPES on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. at OPES.