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Principal Announced for Allen D. Nease High School

Lisa Kunze, principal of Switzerland Point Middle School (SPMS), has been selected by Superintendent Tim Forson to be the principal of Allen D. Nease High School (NHS). Her nomination will be presented to the St. Johns County School Board at their February 14 meeting.

Kunze will replace Kyle Dresback, who was recently selected as Associate Superintendent of Student Support Services.

Employed with the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) since 2005, Kunze previously served as the assistant principal at NHS before joining Ponte Vedra High School as an assistant principal to help open the school. She began her career in education in Duval County as a science teacher at Mandarin High School. She taught for seven years before becoming the assistant principal at Stanton College Preparatory School. She was later promoted to vice principal at Sandalwood High School before joining St. Johns County.

“Mrs. Kunze is an outstanding leader as demonstrated by the success of SPMS for more than seven years,” said Forson. “Her focus on the academic success as well as the emotional and social development of her students will serve her well at NHS and complement existing programs offered there.”

Kunze holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana State University and a master’s degree from the University of North Florida.

“I am very excited to return to Nease and the high school environment,” said Kunze. “By joining the team this school year, I will have the unique opportunity to observe and listen to the faculty, students and parents about the culture of the school and their goals for the future.”

The transition of Kunze and Dresback will not take place until a new principal has been appointed for SPMS. Forson will begin the process of gathering input from staff and the community within the next two weeks.

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SJCSD Spelling Bee Winner 2017

Sreeniketh Vogoti, an eighth-grade student at Fruit Cove Middle School, won the 2017 St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) Spelling Bee held January 18 at First Coast Technical College. He won by spelling the word “fatuous” correctly. Sreeniketh is the son of Padamja and Balasubramanyam Vogoti.

Thirty-three elementary and middle school students from 28 public and five private schools competed for the honor of representing St. Johns County in The Florida Times-Union Regional Spelling Bee Saturday, March 4 at the Jacksonville Main Public Library. If for any reason the winner is not able to attend, runner-up Jackson Willis of Liberty Pines Academy will represent the county.

It took 37 rounds for the winner to be determined. The participants were congratulated by School Board Vice Chair Bill Mignon, School Board Member Kelly Barrera, Deputy Superintendent for Academic and Student Services Brennan Asplen and Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dawn Sapp.

Laurie Hays, SJCSD program specialist for Elementary Language Arts, served as the spelling bee coordinator and the pronouncer was Linda Villadoniga, retired SJCSD teacher. Judges for the event were Jay DiMartino, SJCSD Language Arts and World Languages program specialist; Cheryl Freeman, SJCSD volunteer coordinator; and Sandy Waldeis, community representative.

WFOY 102.1 FM broadcasted the spelling bee live and Murphy Alexander, SJCSD instructional television specialist taped the event. The Spelling Bee will be broadcast on SEA TV channels 99 or 262 and available for viewing at


Administrative Appointments

Kyle Dresback, principal of Allen D. Nease High School (NHS) has been selected to be the Associate Superintendent of Student Support Services. His nomination will be presented to the St. Johns County School Board at their January 10 meeting by incoming Superintendent Tim Forson who will assume his position on January 1.

Dresback will replace current Associate Superintendent of Student Support Services Cathy Mittelstadt who has been selected to serve as the Deputy Superintendent for Operations. This nomination will also be presented to the School Board on January 10.

Employed with the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) since 1996, Dresback has served as the principal of NHS since 2009. Prior to this, he served as principal of Switzerland Point Middle School for more than two years. He was also an assistant principal at St. Augustine High School, the district’s director of Purchasing, the registrar at NHS and a math and computer science teacher at NHS.

“I am honored by the opportunity to take on this new position,” said Dresback. “I am excited to work with the Student Support Services team to expand and grow our assistance to students.”

Dresback holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Florida (UNF) and is working on his doctorate at the University of Florida.

Mittelstadt has been the Associate Superintendent for Student Support Services since 2015 and has also served as interim-principal of First Coast Technical College. She began her career in Apopka High School in 1993 and joined the SJCSD in 2003. She served as the assistant principal at Pedro Menendez High School, principal of R.J. Murray Middle School and principal of St. Augustine High School.

Mittelstadt holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, a master’s degree from the University of Central Florida and an Educational Specialist degree from Nova Southeastern University.

“I am humbled and honored to serve in this capacity,” said Mittelstadt. “I look forward to expanding my knowledge and building relationships to support student success and growth throughout the district.”

The transition of Mittelstadt and Dresback will not take place until a new principal has been appointed for NHS. Forson will begin the process of gathering input from staff and the community in mid-January.


2016-2017 Teachers and Rookie Teachers of the Year

The 2016-2017 Teachers of the Year have been selected from each of the district’s 36 schools as well as St. Johns Virtual School, First Coast Technical College and The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.

These nominees represent the very best among St. Johns County School District teachers. Their colleagues have selected them for this prestigious honor, and they will advance to compete for the countywide title.

Nominations for the 2016-2017 Rookie Teacher of the Year have been submitted by 36 of the district’s schools. Eligible teachers must have taught less than three years.

This is the 10th year that the Rookie Teacher of the Year competition has been held. These nominees represent the top of their profession among new teachers, and will go on to compete for the countywide title.

The overall winners will be announced at the annual Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year Celebration Monday, January 23 at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. The St. Johns County Teacher of the Year will then be included for consideration as the Florida Department of Education Macy’s Teacher of the Year to serve for 2018.

The awards banquet is produced by Investing in Kids (INK) to recognize excellence in the teaching profession. For additional information and tickets to the event, contact INK at (904) 547-7124 or

Below are the lists of nominees.

Rookie Teachers of the Year

Elementary Schools
John A. Crookshank Elementary  Ms. Jenny Moore-Jones
Cunningham Creek Elementary  Ms. London Marlar
Durbin Creek Elementary  Ms. Victoria Cobb
W. D. Hartley Elementary  Ms. Kimberly R. Sikes
Hickory Creek Elementary  Ms. Aishla Acevedo Rodriguez
R.B. Hunt Elementary  Ms. Cagney Carbone
Julington Creek Elementary  Mr. Trey Lewek
Ketterlinus Elementary  Ms. Pamela P. Jett
Otis A. Mason Elementary  Ms. Virginia Jones
Mill Creek Elementary  Ms. Danielle Johnson
Ocean Palms Elementary  Mr. Christopher Arcuri
Osceola Elementary  Ms. Alexandria L. Pappas
Palencia Elementary  Ms. Angela Erney
PVPV/Rawlings Elementary  Ms. Susan Luce
South Woods Elementary  Ms. Sydney Newton
Timberlin Creek Elementary  Ms. Whitney Fischer
Wards Creek Elementary  Ms. Lauren Seckinger
The Webster School  Ms. Stephanie Colsant

Liberty Pines Academy  Ms. Jenna Josephson
Patriot Oaks Academy  Ms. Megan Doxzon
Valley Ridge Academy  Ms. Sarah Lively

Secondary Schools
Bartram Trail High  Ms. Kathryn Gouch
Creekside High  Ms. Kaley Still
Fruit Cove Middle School  Ms. Kristen Alford
Gaines Alternative and Transition  Mr. Raymond K. Howe III
Alice B. Landrum Middle  Ms. Martha Wray
Pedro Menendez High  Ms. Kathleen Wolfe
R.J. Murray Middle  Mr. Jackson Brown
Allen D. Nease High  Ms. Amy Gruhn
Pacetti Bay Middle  Ms. Anna L. Armitage
Ponte Vedra High  Mr. Philip Sabado
Gamble Rogers Middle  Ms. Morgane Van Waeyenberghe
Sebastian Middle  Ms. Kate E. Ducote
St. Augustine High  Ms. Lynne Tiner
St. Johns Technical High  Mr. Jarrod Branco
Switzerland Point Middle  Mr. Michael Shine
First Coast Technical College  Mr. Matthew Provost


Teachers of the Year

Elementary Schools
John A. Crookshank Elementary  Ms. Renee Hobbs
Cunningham Creek Elementary  Ms. Dana Kelly
Durbin Creek Elementary  Ms. Kara Bird
W.D. Hartley Elementary  Ms. Kathleen Schooley
Hickory Creek Elementary  Ms. Wendy Teaman
R. B. Hunt Elementary  Ms. Agatha Christine
Julington Creek Elementary  Ms. Wendy Gilbert
Ketterlinus Elementary  Ms. Mary Ballinger
Otis A. Mason Elementary  Ms. Laura “Anje” Newbold
Mill Creek Elementary  Ms. Carolyn Ramsay
Ocean Palms Elementary  Ms. Lauren Tate Wade
Osceola Elementary  Mr. Ryan “Kirby” Quam
Palencia Elementary  Ms. Laura Simpson
PVPV/Rawlings Elementary  Ms. Leslie Cabo Dal Molin
South Woods Elementary  Ms. Sally Cunningham
Timberlin Creek Elementary  Ms. Lisa Barnett
Wards Creek Elementary  Ms. Kristin Fanning
The Webster School  Mr. Richard R. Thomas Jr.

Liberty Pines Academy  Ms. Kristin Latshaw
Patriot Oaks Academy  Ms. Allyson Jordan
Valley Ridge Academy  Ms. Megan Leighty

Secondary Schools
Bartram Trail High  Ms. Claire Bynum
Creekside High  Ms. Mallory Padgett
Fruit Cove Middle  Mr. Steven Whitmer
Gaines Alternative and Transition  Ms. Heather May
Alice B. Landrum Middle  Ms. Sandra Pagliughi
Pedro Menendez High  Ms. Celeste Bowker
R.J. Murray Middle  Ms. Jodi O. Lanford
Allen D. Nease High  Ms. Susan Lycke
Pacetti Bay Middle  Ms. Jennifer Cooper
Ponte Vedra High  Mr. Charles Cerrato
Gamble Rogers Middle  Ms. Robin Rucker
Sebastian Middle  Ms. Kristina Harvey
St. Augustine High  Ms. Nancy Snell
St. Johns Technical High  Mr. Ryan Sirak
Switzerland Point Middle School  Mrs. Rachel Farris
First Coast Technical College  Mr. Ronald Story
St. Johns Virtual School  Ms. Ginger Baker-Sanhueza
Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind  Ms. April Wallace

Principal Selected for First Coast Technical College

Chris Force, St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) director of Career and Technical Education and First Coast Technical College (FCTC) assistant principal, has been selected to be the principal of FCTC. Her nomination will be presented to the St. Johns County School Board at their January 10 meeting.

Force will replace FCTC interim Principal Cathy Mittelstadt who also serves as associate superintendent for Student Support Services at the district. Mittelstadt will assist Force with the transition and continue to be a resource for the school and its students.

Force joined the SJCSD in 2015 as the director of Career and Technical Education. Prior to this she served 24 years in Duval County Public Schools as a Building, Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing (BEAM) Academy lead teacher at Englewood High School, the district’s director of career and technical education, and a teacher of business and marketing and director of the Academy of Finance at Samuel W. Wolfson High School. She also served at Florida Community College at Jacksonville from 1994-2008 as an adjunct professor.

“FCTC is so valued in the school district and community, it is my honor to serve in this capacity,” said Force.  “I am committed to taking a strategic approach to ensure that we are meeting the needs of students as well as workforce and economic development in the region.”

Force has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Florida State University and has pursued doctoral work at the University of North Florida with an emphasis in career academies and technology.

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CHARACTER COUNTS! 6 Pillars 6K/3K Run/Walk 2017

CC6KThe CHARACTER COUNTS! Steering Committee is calling all walkers, runners and fitness enthusiasts to participate in the CHARACTER COUNTS! 6 Pillars 6K/3K Run/Walk on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 9 a.m. The run/walk will begin and end at Palencia Elementary School located at 355 Palencia Village Drive, St. Augustine.

Walkers and runners will enjoy a course running through the neighborhoods of Kensington and Las Calinas and can choose to participate in the 6K (3.73 miles) or 3K (1.86 miles) distance. Registration fees are as follows:

6K-$25 before January 1, $30 January1-February 3, $35 on race day

3K-$20 before January 1, $25 January 1-February 3, $30 on race day

Registration forms and more information are available online at

Race proceeds will support CHARACTER COUNTS! initiatives throughout the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD). The run/walk is open to all ages, and the top three winners will be awarded in each of the age categories as well as the overall male and female finishers. A cash donation will be awarded to the top three schools with the most registrants. Last year these schools were Ocean Palms Elementary and Valley Ridge and Liberty Pines academies. All race registrants will receive a tech t-shirt and lots of other goodies from area businesses and organizations. At the finish line, each race participant will receive a commemorative dog tag which is the third design in its series.

This event is produced by the CHARACTER COUNTS! Steering Committee and is presented by Beaver Toyota with support from businesses and community groups. Action News Jax CBS47/FOX30 is the official media sponsor of this run/walk.

The SJCSD, along with area businesses, youth organizations and civic groups, selected the national character education program of CHARACTER COUNTS! as a countywide initiative to instill positive character traits in young people throughout the county. Additionally, the SJCSD became the first school district in Florida to implement Pursuing Victory With Honor in all of its athletic programs. Character education is an important part of every School Improvement Plan and a major component of the Student Code of Conduct and the school district’s Strategic Plan.

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St. Johns County School District Superintendent Named

forsonThe St. Johns County School Board voted to name retired Deputy Superintendent for Operations Tim Forson as the next superintendent of the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD). The five school board members voted unanimously and Forson will succeed Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner on January 4, 2017.

Board members cited Forson as the best qualified and most suited candidate to further the success achieved during Dr. Joyner’s tenure. Forson’s 36 years with the SJCSD, proven leadership skills, varied curriculum and operations experience, and familiarity with the school district and community were also touted.

School Board Chair Patrick Canan led the superintendent search process for the board. “I knew this would be the single most important decision we would make together as a board, and I appreciate the work of the Florida School Boards Association and Assistant Superintendent Martha Mickler as they assisted us through the steps,” said Canan. “This proved a difficult decision as I felt as though we were in a win-win situation in choosing between Dr. Vickie Cartwright and Mr. Forson. In the end Mr. Forson has the familiarity and trust of the community coupled with the confidence from the board which made him the perfect choice to continue the excellence under Dr. Joyner’s leadership.”

“Tim is a superior leader and an even better person,” said Dr. Joyner. “His integrity and character have made him one of my most trusted advisors. His commitment to this district gives me great pride and I am honored to have worked with him for almost 14 years.”

Forson led the SJCSD Facilities and Operations Department for 10 years until his retirement in May of this year.  During that time the district implemented an energy management program that has produced a $36 million cost avoidance in utility expenses.   The Operations Department also implemented an energy management system for all facilities that improved building performance and efficiency.

Prior to serving as a district administrator, Mr. Forson was the principal at Bartram Trail High School during a time of unprecedented growth.  Bartram Trail was an “A” school during his tenure and he fostered the development of both accelerated academic program offerings and career academies.  He also served as principal of Mill Creek Elementary School for six years where he helped to transition it from a predominantly rural school to a school serving a growing community of new families.

Mr. Forson has been a lifelong resident of St. Johns County beginning his career as a secondary social studies teacher and coach.  He was recognized as St. Johns County Social Studies Teacher of the Year in 1992. He also was awarded Principal of the Year in 2005 and went on to become a state finalist for this honor.

Mr. Forson attended school locally at St. Joseph Academy and later received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and his master’s degree from Nova Southeastern University.

His wife, Janice, has been an educator in St. Johns County for more than 25 years and presently works as an instructional coach for pre-kindergarten teachers in the county.  The Forsons have been married for 38 years and have four children.

For information on the superintendent search process and timeline visit



Superintendent Search Interviews and Community Reception

The members of the St. Johns County School Board selected four finalists to be interviewed for the next Superintendent of the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD). Two of these finalists have withdrawn from consideration, Dr. Elizabeth Alves and Mr. Mark Porter.  Interviews were originally scheduled for early October, but had to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Matthew. The two remaining candidates, Dr. Vickie Cartwright and Mr. Tim Forson, will be interviewed on Tuesday, November 1 at First Coast Technical College, Building C, 2980 Collins Ave., St. Augustine, 32084.

To view the interview schedule for specific times, visit the SJCSD’s homepage at and click on the Superintendent Search button.  Candidate interviews with the School Board are open to the public.

In addition, all employees and community residents are invited to a community reception for the finalists on Tuesday, November 1 at 6 p.m. at First Coast Technical College – Building C, 2980 Collins Ave., St. Augustine, 32084.  Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from and meet each of the finalists as well as provide input to the School Board for consideration.


SJCSD Superintendent Search Interviews and Community Reception Update

The members of the St. Johns County School Board have selected four finalists to be interviewed for the next Superintendent of the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD):

Dr. Elizabeth Alves
Dr. Vickie Cartwright
Mr. Tim Forson
Mr. Mark Porter

The interviews and community reception which were postponed due to Hurricane Matthew have been rescheduled for November 1 and 2, 2016. The detailed schedule of events will be posted soon.



Groundbreaking Ceremonies Postponed

Please be advised that the groundbreaking ceremonies scheduled on Monday, October 10 for K-8 School KK and the expansion at Allen D. Nease High School as well as the ceremonies scheduled on Wednesday, October 12 for Elementary School M and K-8 School LL have been postponed.

The new dates will be announced once these ceremonies are rescheduled.


Lifetime Achievement Awards 2016

Dr. Leonard Pellicer and St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Anthony Coleman were honored as the recipients of the 2016 Learning Legacy Lifetime Achievement Awards.  These awards are presented annually to former St. Johns County public school students who have returned to the area and dedicated their time and talents to serving their community. A presentation was made to Coleman and Pellicer by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner and School Board Member Bill Mignon on Friday, September 30 prior to kickoff at the football game between Pedro Menendez and Clay high schools.

Dr. Leonard Pellicer was born and raised in St. Augustine and graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1963. In high school he lettered in four sports and served as the captain of the football, basketball and track teams. After graduation, Pellicer earned his bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Florida which eventually led him to serve as a professor and chair of Educational Leadership at the University of South Carolina (USC).

During his time at USC he founded and was named the inaugural director of the South Carolina Educational Policy Center. He also served as the co-developer and director of the African- American Professors Program which was created to address the shortage of African-American professors in the college and university systems. For his efforts he was recognized by the USC Black Faculty and Staff Association with its Affirmative Action Award. Pellicer retired from the University of South Carolina in June 2000 after 22 years and was awarded the title of distinguished Professor Emeritus by the USC Board of Trustees. He then served seven years as the Dean of the College of Education and Organizational Leadership at the University of LaVerne in California.

Pellicer is the author or co-author of seven books and more than 60 monographs, book chapters and journal articles. Several books including “A Handbook for Teacher Leaders” and “Caring Enough to Lead” have become best sellers in the field of education.

He and his wife Nancy Clifton Pellicer have been married for 48 years and returned home to St. Augustine in 2007. He is committed to local service and has shown this through his volunteerism with Meals on Wheels, the Early Childhood Coalition and the St. Johns Council on Aging. He is a board member on Forward March and an executive board member on Post 37 and a frequent guest editorialist at “The St. Augustine Record.”

Deputy Anthony Coleman was born in Palatka, FL and attended Hastings High School where he graduated in 1983. He played varsity football and ran track, earning his spot as the state champion for the 100 meter in 1982. He was awarded a scholarship from Edward Waters College for track and went on to complete the St. Augustine Technical Law Enforcement Academy and was a graduate of Vincennes University.

He has served as a deputy for the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office for more than 30 years and for the last 20 years, Coleman has been a youth resource deputy as well as a coach, mentor, teacher and role model to thousands of St. Johns County children. Most of his career as a youth resource deputy has been spent at Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS) though he has also provided service at Gaines Alternative School, Murray and Gamble Rogers middle schools.

Coleman lives by the motto to protect and serve and this was shown most recently when he saved a toddler from a home fire in Hastings in 2015 and subsequently received an award for his exceptional service. He was named Officer of the Year in 1999 and received the Guy White Award, the highest award given by St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar. Coleman serves as a board member of the Hope Pavilion Boys Home in Hastings, FL. In this role he helps to guide the vision of the organization which is dedicated to helping teens and young adults who have experienced neglect, abandonment or distressed family situations. Not only does he sit on the board, but he has a direct impact by mentoring these individuals and providing them the tools and skills necessary to become productive adults. It is also not uncommon to witness him volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club in St. Augustine helping children and teens with homework and providing positive feedback.

Ingrained in the Hastings community, Coleman serves as a Sunday school teacher at the Lord’s Temple Ministry.  In 1990 he assisted in starting the Police Athletic League football program after he started coaching children from Flagler Estates. He has coached children from ages 7 to 16 in football, track, t-ball, baseball and basketball.

Coleman and his wife Cheryl have been married for over 25 years. They have six children and 10 grandchildren.

Past recipients of the Learning Legacy Lifetime Achievement Award are former Superintendent of Schools Otis Mason, the late Judge Richard Watson, former PMHS Principal and School Board Member Bill Mignon, Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind teacher-coach Hank White, the late Sheriff Neil Perry, former basketball coach Doris Blackshear, former Representative Doug Wiles, former PMHS football coach Dwaine Fisher, School Board Vice Chair Tommy Allen, St. Johns Technical High School and St. Johns Virtual School Principal Cynthia Williams, Assistant Superintendent Martha Mickler, CPA Brad Davis, former SAHS Principal Tyrone Ramsey, former Chamber of Commerce President Robin Burchfield, retired Barnett Bank President Bill Young, former St. Johns County Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Nancy Birchall, Allen D. Nease High School Dean of Students Kelvin “Bernie” Blue, SAHS Yellow Jackets broadcaster Barry Kass, author and board of trustees member for the St. Augustine Historical Society Beth Rogero Bowen, former Alternative Schools Teacher of the Year Rocky Merrill, retired banking executive John W. Daniels, Terrell Hogan attorney Wayne Hogan, Judge Clyde Wolfe, the late SAHS teacher Hattie Jenkins, former-Mayor Len Weeks, retired Director of Risk Management Carol Holtz, Speech-Language Pathologist Katherine Batenhorst, president of The Browning Agency of Ponte Vedra, Inc. Jim Browning, retired teacher and guidance counselor Barbara McClain, and Pastor Smiley Sturgis.

All recipients’ names are inscribed on a perpetual plaque that hangs outside the Superintendent’s Office.