The St. Johns County School Board approved the name Picolata Crossing Elementary School for the school previously known as Elementary “M” at its School Board meeting held today. During community meetings held recently, Principal Jud Strickland collected input from the public and provided the suggested names to school board members during its workshop on April 25.
Picolata Crossing Elementary will open for the 2017-2018 school year and is being constructed at 2675 Pacetti Road. With 871 student stations, the school will contain approximately 110,000 square feet and 43 classrooms. Movable walls will open to create flexible-sized classroom spaces and extend learning areas for collaboration opportunities. This school will also feature state-of-the-art technology and core facilities that include a media center, cafetorium, playgrounds and physical education fields. It is two stories and being built to Green Building Standards on an 18.5-acre site.
Randall “Jud” Strickland, principal of Cunningham Creek Elementary (CCE), has been selected by Superintendent Tim Forson to be the principal of elementary “M” currently being constructed at 2675 Pacetti Road, St. Augustine, 32092. His nomination will be presented to the School Board at its February 14 meeting.
Kirstie Gabaldon, assistant principal of Sebastian Middle School, has been selected by Superintendent Tim Forson to be the principal of Switzerland Point Middle School replacing Lisa Kunze who was recently chosen selected to be the principal of Allen D. Nease High School (NHS). Her nomination will also be presented to the School Board at its February 14 meeting.
Strickland has served as the principal of CCE since 2013. Prior to this, he served more than 20 years in the Duval County Public School System where he spent 10 years as a principal and was responsible for opening Bartram Springs Elementary School. He also held the position of executive director for elementary turnaround schools and as chief of elementary schools where he was responsible for leading and managing 53 elementary and two k-8 schools with more than 30,000 students.
“Mr. Strickland is a proven leader with a breadth of experience,” said Superintendent Forson. “His knowledge on opening a school will serve him well for Elementary “M” and I know he will easily connect with the students and community to prepare for the 2017-2018 school year.”
Strickland has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of North Florida (UNF).
With more than 17 years of experience, Gabaldon has spent her entire career serving the students in St. Johns County. She started as a teacher at NHS and then went on to be the registrar at Bartram Trail High School before joining Creekside High School as an assistant principal. She also served at Murray Middle School when it was in need of an assistant principal for an extended period. She joined Sebastian Middle School prior to the start of this school year.
“Ms. Gabaldon has been an exceptional assistant principal and I am extremely confident in her leadership abilities,” said Forson. “She brings an enthusiasm and a can-do attitude that will continue the excellence at SPMS.”
Gabaldon has a bachelor’s degree from the University of East Anglia, England and a master’s degree from UNF.
Forson will begin gathering input from staff and the community for the new principal of CCE in the coming weeks.
The St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) will hold early registration for children entering kindergarten for the 2017-2018 school year.
Wednesday, February 15
1 – 5 p.m.
Friday, March 24
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Tuesday, April 4
1 – 5 p.m.
Monday, May 15
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
To be eligible for public kindergarten in the SJCSD, children must be 5 years old on or before September 1 and must reside in St. Johns County.
Parents must register children at the school where they are zoned for the 2017-2018 school year. To find your school, enter your street address on the Attendance Zone Locator at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/zoning/. Students zoned for new Elementary School “M” will need to register at Pacetti Bay Middle School, located at 245 Meadowlark Lane, St. Augustine. Contact the Student Services Department at 547-7598 for additional information on registration and zoning.
Requirements for registration:
Documentation of a health examination performed on or after August 11, 2016
Proof of completed required immunizations on Form DH680
Voluntary Pre-kindergarten (VPK) early registration will also take place at select schools on the above dates and times. Children entering the VPK program must be 4 years old on or before September 1. The St. Johns County School District VPK offers a high-quality early childhood education program with small class sizes and degree-holding teachers with certification in disabilities.
VPK is available at John A. Crookshank, Cunningham Creek, Durbin Creek, Ketterlinus, Otis Mason, Mill Creek, Ocean Palms, Osceola, PVPV/Rawlings, South Woods, Timberlin Creek and Wards Creek elementary schools as well as The Webster School and Valley Ridge Academy.
The SJCSD Head Start Program is currently taking applications for the 2017-2018 school year at the Head Start Office located at 102 Martin Luther King Ave. in St. Augustine.
For additional information on VPK or Head Start, please contact Early Childhood Services at 547-4897.
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.
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 www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/video.
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.
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 www.ink-stjohns.org.
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.
The 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
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.
The 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.
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 www.stjohns.k12.fl.us 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.