SJCSD School-Related Employees of the Year

srey2The 2015-2016 School-Related Employees of the Year have been selected from each of the district’s 36 schools, one charter school and four district departments and were recognized at Tuesday’s monthly School Board meeting. School-related employees enhance the educational experience for the children whose lives they touch, and they are essential to the successful operation of a school or school district office.

These nominees were chosen for the significant contributions they have made in their schools and community, and to the school district as a whole. Criteria for the award includes exemplary job performance, dedication on the job, interpersonal skills, leadership ability, in-service/training to upgrade skills and contributions to the school and school district environment.

A district-wide screening committee has reviewed all of the nominations and the winner of the St. Johns County School-Related Employee of the Year will be announced at a reception on Thursday, March 17 at 6 p.m. at the World Golf Hall of Fame Museum. The St. Johns County nominee will be submitted for consideration at the regional level.

A list of the 2015-2016 School-Related Employees of the Year is below.


Jennifer Hicks Academic Services Department
Jane Young Bartram Trail High School
Patricia Hardy Creekside High School
Cynthia Marie Laga John A. Crookshank Elementary School
Karen Bowyer Cunningham Creek Elementary School
Yasmin Taylor Durbin Creek Elementary School
Von Raburn First Coast Technical College
Joann Williams Fruit Cove Middle School
Christina Fallica Gaines Alternative and The Transition Schools
Michelle Betrone W. D. Hartley Elementary School
Cecelia Theos Hickory Creek Elementary School
Eunice Lopez Human Resources Department
Wendy Thurston R. B. Hunt Elementary School
Todd Stone Information Technology Department
Kathryn “KD” Bender Julington Creek Elementary School
Brian Taylor Ketterlinus Elementary School
Gerri D. Garcia Alice B. Landrum Middle School
Brenda Herrera Liberty Pines Academy
Steven Sampson Otis A. Mason Elementary School
Pat Giuliani Pedro Menendez High School
Arthur “Art” Thomas Mill Creek Elementary School
La’Kevia Rollins R. J. Murray Middle School
Donald E. Colburn Allen D. Nease High School
Tyson Shank Ocean Palms Elementary School
Susan Lynch Osceola Elementary School
Michelle Leitao Pacetti Bay Middle School
Randy Villalobos Palencia Elementary School
Jenny Ware Dupree Patriot Oaks Academy
Nicholas Athanaseas Ponte Vedra High School
Maria Novoa PVPV/Rawlings Elementary School
Martha Fulford Gamble Rogers Middle School
Michael Oxborough St. Augustine High School
Rick Testasecca St. Johns Technical High School
Michael P. Marimpietri Sebastian Middle School
Emily Hoover South Woods Elementary School
Ann McCaskill Switzerland Point Middle School
Jennifer Schwall Timberlin Creek Elementary School
Rebecca Brewer Transportation Department
Joan Balerna Valley Ridge Academy
Tammy L. Stewart Wards Creek Elementary School
Kenneth P. Kehoe The Webster School


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School Grades 2015

School grades released today show that the St. Johns County School District has maintained its ranking as one of the top performing districts in the state.  St. Johns County had 28 “A” schools, four “B” schools, and two “C” schools.

Fourteen elementary schools, five middle schools and all of the district’s K-8 academies and high schools received a grade of “A” this year.

“These grades reflect a baseline for the Florida Standards Assessment and are a partial measure of school accountability,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “Even though these grades are an incomplete representation of the success of our schools, I am very proud of the performance of our children. This has been a strategic effort to implement the new and more rigorous standards and it is gratifying to see such positive results.”

The elementary schools receiving an “A” are Cunningham Creek Elementary, Durbin Creek Elementary, W.D. Hartley Elementary, Hickory Creek Elementary, R.B. Hunt Elementary, Julington Creek Elementary, Ketterlinus Elementary, Mill Creek Elementary, Ocean Palms Elementary, Otis A. Mason Elementary, Palencia Elementary, PVPV/Rawlings Elementary, Timberlin Creek Elementary and Wards Creek Elementary. The middle schools with an “A” are Fruit Cove Middle, Alice B. Landrum Middle, Pacetti Bay Middle, R.J. Murray Middle and Switzerland Point Middle. Liberty Pines, Patriot Oaks and Valley Ridge academies received an “A” as did Allen D. Nease, Bartram Trail, Creekside, Pedro Menendez, Ponte Vedra, and St. Augustine high schools.

Osceola Elementary, South Woods Elementary, Gamble Rogers Middle and Sebastian Middle schools received a “B” this year. Crookshank Elementary School and The Webster School received a “C” this year.

The district also has three charter schools which received grades. St. Augustine Public Montessori received a “B”, The Academy of Business and Leadership Education (ABLE) received a “B” and St. Paul School of Excellence received an “F”. Additional detail and information can be found at


Early Registration for 2016-2017 School Year

The St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) will hold early registration for children entering kindergarten on the below dates and times.

Tuesday, February 2       9 a.m. – 1 p.m.                  Friday, April 8     9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Thursday, March 10        1 – 5 p.m.                         Monday, May 9    1 – 5 p.m.

To be eligible for public kindergarten in St. Johns County, children must be 5 years old on or before September 1 and must reside in St. Johns County. To register for first grade, children must be 6 years old on or before September 1 and have documentation of successful completion of kindergarten. Parents must register children at the school where they are zoned for the 2016-2017 school year. To find your school, enter your street address on the Attendance Zone Locator at

Requirements for registration:

  • Birth certificate
  • Documentation of a health examination performed within one year of enrollment
  • Proof of completed required immunizations on Form DH680
  • Proof of residence per the Residency and Guardianship Policy located at

Parents are encouraged to register early so that schools can adequately prepare for the new school year. Contact the Student Services Department at 547-7598 for additional information on registration and zoning.

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 degreed 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 will begin taking applications for the 2016-2017 school year on Wednesday, February 3 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 547-8965.


2016 Spelling Bee Winner

Sreeniketh Vogoti, a seventh-grade student at Fruit Cove Middle School, won the 2016 St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) Spelling Bee held yesterday at the Fullerwood Learning Center. He won by spelling the word “reprieve” correctly. Sreeniketh is the son of Padamja and Balasubramanyam Vogoti.

Thirty-two elementary and middle school students from 28 public and four private schools competed for the honor of representing St. Johns County in The Florida Times-Union Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday, February 27 at the Jacksonville Main Public Library. If for any reason the winner is not able to attend, runner-up Mary Kathryn Reynolds of Ocean Palms Elementary School will represent the county.

It took 49 rounds for the winner to be determined. The participants were congratulated by School Board Members Beverly Slough and Kelly Barrera, Superintendent Joseph Joyner and Assistant Superintendent Martha Mickler.

WAOC 96.5 FM broadcasted the spelling bee live and streamed it on their website. Community Relations also taped the event.

The winner of the regional spelling bee will advance to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee scheduled in May in Washington, D.C.

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 Tommy Bledsoe, SJCSD program specialist; Cheryl Freeman, director of retired and senior volunteer program; Sandy Waldeis, community representative; and Laurie Hays.

The Spelling Bee will be broadcast on Saturday, January 16 at 6 p.m. on SEA TV channels 99 or 262.


Teachers and Rookie Teachers of the Year 2015/2016

The 2015-2016 Teachers of the Year and Rookie Teachers of the Year have been selected from each of the district’s 38 schools and were recognized at the monthly School Board meeting last night.

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 2015-2016 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 ninth 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 winner will be announced at the annual Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year Celebration on Tuesday, January 26 at the Renaissance Resort at the 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 2016.

The awards banquet is produced by Investing in Kids (INK) to recognize excellence in the teaching profession and is sponsored, in part, by THE PLAYERS, Beaver Toyota/Scion and Leonard’s Studios.

Below are the lists of nominees. For additional information and tickets to the event, contact Donna Lueders at INK, (904) 547-7120.

2015 TOY List


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CHARACTERCOUNTS2016The 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 6, 2016 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 scenic 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 January 1-February 5, $35 on race day
3K-$20 before January 1, $25 January 1-February 5, $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. Register by January 16 to receive a tech t-shirt and lots of other goodies from area businesses and organizations. At the finish line, the first 500 race participants will receive a commemorative dog tag which is the second design in its series.

This event is produced by the CHARACTER COUNTS! Steering Committee and is presented by Beaver Toyota Scion with support from businesses and community groups.

The SJCSD, along with area businesses, youth organizations and civic groups, selected the national character educational 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.

Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC)

The St. Johns County School District is seeking applicants interested in serving on the St. Johns County School Board’s Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC). The CAC will be appointed by the School Board and will monitor and advise the board on the expenditure of funds collected from the half-cent sales tax.

On November 3 of this year, citizens of St. Johns County voted to approve a half-cent sales tax for the St. Johns County School District to be used for capital projects including new construction, renovations, technology and safety and security. Collection of the half-cent sales tax will begin on January 1, 2016 and will be in effect for 10 years. This committee will meet to review the projects and expenditures associated with the critical needs project list published by the school district.

Interested applicants must be residents of St. Johns County. The committee will be geographically diverse and representative of several categories including, community (parents and non-parents), construction, education, finance, planning/design, security, and technology. Applicants work experience, expertise and involvement with public education will be considered.

A maximum of 15 members will be appointed to serve for a two-year term. Applications must be received by Monday, December 14, 2015 and may be obtained on the school district’s website or by calling 904-547-7670.

2015 Lifetime Achievement Awards

Barbara McClain and Smiley Sturgis were honored as the recipients of the 2015 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 McClain and Sturgis by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner and School Board Members Kelly Barrera and Bill Mignon on Friday, October 23 prior to kickoff at the football game between Pedro Menendez and Ridgeview high schools.

McClain was born in Boston, Massachusetts on St. Patrick’s Day in 1954. She moved with her mother back to Hastings in 1954 where she attended Walter E. Harris High from first-12th grade. She was raised in Hastings by her aunt and uncle, Lucy and Nathaniel Carter. Her aunt was a teacher in St. Johns County for 42 years, and McClain grew up watching her write lesson plans and eventually started helping her grade papers.

In seventh grade, McClain started playing basketball on the girls varsity team. Barbara also played volleyball and softball through high school though her passion was always basketball.

After graduating from high school third in her class, she went on to attend Bethune-Cookman College from 1970 to 1974, and received a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Florida in 1988. Her career in St. Johns County started at Hastings Elementary where she taught reading. She then worked in Student Services for 17 years.

Following her desire to be a guidance counselor, she started at the Gaines Alternative Center where she had the opportunity to get to know her students and help them to set positive goals. In her last three years, she joined Fruit Cove Middle School as a seventh and eighth grade counselor. McClain considered these the years the best of her career because she felt she was working with the greatest staff of teachers she had ever met. After retiring in 2011, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and is a breast cancer survivor.

She is very involved with Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church and serves as the Administrative Assistant. She directs the youth choir and sings in the adult choir there as well. She also lends her voice to the Hastings Community Choir.

McClain has one son, Bryan Nathaniel Moore, and has been married to her husband, Kenneth McClain Sr., for two years.

A native of St. Augustine, Sturgis graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1972. He went on to graduate from St. Johns River Community College in 1974, Flagler College in 1976 and Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979 with a Masters of Divinity degree. After an internship at Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, Florida in 1979, he planted and served as pastor for West Boca Presbyterian Church for 10 years. In 1991 he moved to St. Augustine and planted Good News Church where he has served as senior pastor for 24 years.

Sturgis has been married to his wife, Karen, for 34 years and they have six children; Lydia, Luke, Nathan, Caleb, Mark and Mary and one granddaughter, Ava. Three of Smiley’s children graduated from St. Augustine High School, five graduated from college, one has a master’s degree and one has a doctorate degree. All six of his children played sports for St. Johns County schools, with five of them playing in college and two playing professionally.

Smiley and his family have made a big impact on St. Augustine and St. Johns County through their ministry and serving the community.  They provide services to all ages including children, high school and college students.

Past recipients of the Learning Legacy Lifetime Achievement Award are former Superintendent of Schools Otis Mason, the late Judge Richard Watson, former Pedro Menendez High School (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 Member Tommy Allen, St. Johns Technical High 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 retired SAHS teacher Hattie Jenkins, former-Mayor Len Weeks, retired Director of Risk Management Carol Holtz, Speech-Language Pathologist Katherine Batenhorst and president of The Browning Agency of Ponte Vedra, Inc. Jim Browning.

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


2016-2017 Calendar Survey

The St. Johns County School District is seeking comments on the proposed 2016-2017 school calendar.

A survey link is now available on the school district website for community members to provide input on the calendar. The survey link can be accessed at or under “Featured Links” on the school district home page. Individuals are encouraged to submit any ideas, suggestions or concerns about the proposed calendar.

Feedback will be collected through Friday, October 23.

The final proposed calendar must be approved by the School Board.

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Graduation Schedule 2016

The St. Johns County School District announces the schedule of 2016 graduation ceremonies for St. Johns County high schools and First Coast Technical College (FCTC).

Thursday, January 21

7 p.m.             First Coast Technical College        Bldg. C, FCTC Campus

Wednesday, May 18

4:30 p.m.       St. Johns Virtual School                District Administrative Building

Wednesday, May 18

7 p.m.             St. Johns Technical High School  St. Augustine High School Auditorium

Thursday, May 19

7:30 p.m.       Pedro Menendez High School      St. Augustine Amphitheatre (SAA)

Friday, May 20

7:30 p.m.       St. Augustine High School            SAA

7:30 p.m.       Allen D. Nease High School          University of North Florida (UNF)

Saturday, May 21

1 p.m.            Bartram Trail High School             UNF

4:30 p.m.       Creekside High School                   UNF

7:30 p.m.       Ponte Vedra High School              UNF

Tuesday, May 24

7 p.m.            First Coast Technical College        Bldg. C, FCTC Campus

2016 National Merit Semifinalists

Eighteen St. Johns County seniors have qualified as National Merit Semifinalists for 2016.

These students placed among the top 1 percent of all students in the country taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test given annually to high school juniors. As 18 of approximately 16,000 semifinalists nationwide, they are now eligible to advance to the finalist competition to vie for 7,400 scholarships worth more than $32 million.

The semifinalists are Evan Armstrong and David Damiani from Bartram Trail High School; Rowan Blalock-Bassett, Samantha Hayes, and Noah Kathe from Creekside High School; Noah Ari, Sanjana Bhargava, Patrick Farrar, Alexander Jasper, Divya Mahesh; Abigail Prohofsky and Samuel Still from Allen D. Nease High School; Wilson Erickson; Yooree Ha; Meijia Li; John Richter and Cullen Smith from Ponte Vedra High School; Michael Whittaker from St. Augustine High School.

All semifinalists will be recognized at the School Board meeting on Tuesday, October 13 at 6 p.m. in the School Board Administration Building auditorium at 40 Orange Street.