Principal Appointments

Wayne King, principal at Valley Ridge Academy (VRA), has been selected by Superintendent Joseph Joyner to be the principal of Sebastian Middle School. His nomination will be presented to the St. Johns County School Board at its May 10 meeting.

Ryan Player, principal at White Knoll High School in Lexington, SC, has been selected by Superintendent Joseph Joyner to be the principal of Alice B. Landrum Middle School. His nomination will be presented to the School Board at its May 10 meeting.

Sandra McMandon, principal at Durbin Creek Elementary (DCE), has been selected by Superintendent Joseph Joyner to be the principal at VRA. Her nomination will be presented to the School Board at its May 10 meeting.

King opened and has served as principal of VRA since 2014. He also served as principal at St. Johns Technical High School from 2011-2013 and Landrum Middle School from 2007-2011.  He has 19 years of experience in the school district as a teacher and administrator at the Gaines Alternative Center, the Evelyn Hamblen Center, SJTHS and Switzerland Point Middle School. King was named the St. Johns County School District’s (SJCSD) Outstanding Principal of the Year in 2010. Prior to his experience in the SJCSD, King spent three years at Flagler College as the assistant dean of students. King has a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Flagler College and a Master of Arts in Education Administration from Jacksonville University.

“Wayne King is one of our finest leaders with a wealth of diverse experiences,” said Joyner. “His innovative style and dedication to the success of students make him the perfect match for Sebastian Middle School.”

Player has served as the principal at White Knoll High School since 2012. Prior to this position he served as assistant principal at WKHS and D.W. Daniel High School. He has 16 years of instructional experience in Columbia, Rock Hill and Lexington, SC serving as a middle school math teacher, varsity football coach and summer school director. WKHS received the Blue Ribbon Lighthouse School of Excellence Award and an Excellent rating on the state school report card for 2013, 2014 and 2015, under his leadership. Player has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics Teaching from Clemson University and a Master of Education in Education Administration from the University of South Carolina.

“Mr. Player is a high performing principal and will be an excellent addition to the leadership team in St. Johns County,” said Joyner.  His personal and professional values are a clear match with our school district and he will be an outstanding principal at Landrum Middle School.”

McMandon has served as the principal of DCE since 2011. She has been employed by the SJCSD since 1993 and is a lifelong resident and graduate of St. Johns County. She served as a teacher at Julington Creek and Cunningham Creek elementary schools, an assistant principal at Gamble Rogers Middle School and South Woods and Otis Mason elementary schools before joining DCE. In addition to maintaining an “A” status at DCE, she encourages her staff to grow as professionals and was appointed to the Florida Department of Education’s Commissioner’s Leadership Academy in 2015. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Florida State University, Master of Education in Elementary Education and certification in Educational Leadership, both from the University of North Florida.

“Ms. McMandon has been one of our highest performing principals for many years,” said Joyner.  “She is one of those rare leaders who has both middle and elementary experience.  I am confident she will take Valley Ridge Academy to the next level of excellence.”

King will replace current SMS Principal Kelly Battell who will be joining the district office as Director of Student Services replacing Sallyanne Smith who is retiring in June.

Player will replace LMS Principal Jewel Johnson who will be joining the district as Director of Instructional Personnel replacing Cathy Geiger who is retiring in May.

“I know that Ms. Battell and Ms. Johnson will continue to the level of service and the excellence that has been established in these positions by Ms. Geiger and Ms. Smith,” said Joyner. “Ms. Battell and Ms. Johnson are both servant leaders with outstanding skills and I have the highest confidence in their ability to take on these new roles.”

Pending School Board approval, these principal nominees will begin their new positions on July 1.


Annual STAR Banquet

Eighty-three of St. Johns County Schools’ best and brightest were honored by Flagler Hospital and St. Johns County School Board at the annual Students Taking Academic Responsibility (STAR) Awards Banquet held Wednesday, April 6 at the World Golf Village Renaissance Resort.

The STAR Awards recognize the top three percent of all graduating seniors in the county. Thirteen students from Bartram Trail High School, two from Beacon of Hope Christian School, 20 from Creekside High School (CHS), 9 from Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS), 13 from Nease High School (NHS), 11 from Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS), 10 from St. Augustine High School (SAHS), and five from St. Joseph Academy received commendation for their outstanding academic performance.

“Flagler Hospital is pleased to bring this very special event to our community in recognition of our county’s top students, their parents and their mentors,” said Flagler Hospital President and CEO Joe Gordy. “St. Johns County’s ongoing success would not be possible without our area’s stellar educational system, led by Dr. Joe Joyner and the dedicated members of our school board.”

During the recognition ceremony principals introduced each student and then a special mentor selected by the student. Principals shared their STAR students’ future plans and why they selected the teacher they chose to honor. In addition to making top grades, these students are involved in athletics, performing groups, school clubs and community service.

The STAR students and their mentors are as follows:

Bartram Trail High School – Evan Armstrong with Atef Soliman; Kaitlyn Burdsall with Ramona Deese; David Damiani with Kate Keating; Jenna Ellinger with Robert Bruns; Douglas Griswold with Sharon Oliver; Andrew Hoover with Paul Grybb; Nicola Martens with Ofelia Hampton; Hannah Moring with Julie Tugya; Alison Murman with Jenna Yow; Sarah Stinson with Stephanie Hammett; Melinda Szabo with Cathy Crowe; Sydnee Vaughan with Chris Patterson; and Mark Wiegreffe with James Bachhuber

Beacon of Hope Christian School – Kenneth Pavilando with Jeremy Dowler and Caitlyn Pettway with Cindy Pryor

Creekside High School – Brighton Ancelin with Jameson Pickett; Sophie de Jong with Laura Wynn;  Hope Epting with Rick Fowler; Kaitlin Huo with Rachel Kurtz; Sierra Hutchens with Ann Rush; Chelsea Janda with Angie Trentham; Karen Jeong with Denise Heidenreich; Elizabeth Johnson with Cheri Stucki; Morgan Klein with Justin Vogel; Keilani Medvec with Kelli Knowles; Elizabeth Neuzil with Kevin Davenport; Nadia Obaed with Kelli Knowles; Justin Roy with Troy Keefe; Abigail Salley with Laura Wynn; James Schnell with Richard Villadoniga; Charles Sherwood with William B. Adams; Nina Sizemore with Lynda Kelly; Maxwell Tsurumoto with Kevin Davenport; Owen Wheeler with Amy Cocchiola; and Tyler Wills with Jameson Pickett

Allen D. Nease High School – Noah Ari with Jaime Combs; Sanjana Bhargava with Amy Banton; Gabriela Castello with Derek Coghlan; Nicolas Cort with Chris Williams; Alex Jasper with Marta Senyszyn; Angelica Lagasca with H.A. Smith; Aaron Lemos with A.J. Lloyd; Divya Mahesh with Debra Tewey; Tala Mansouri with Kim Hollis; Abigail Prohofsky with Rosa Maria Weaver; Nidhi Suresh with Holly Farson; Stephanie Thompson with Melissa Bourgeois; and Kyle Wai with Matt Augenstein

Pedro Menendez High School – Michael John Atkins, II with Becci Smith; Morgan Gomez aith Rusty Luker; Hannah Kilbride with Vicki Murphy; Isabella Masarik with Paul Villavisanis; Meagan McKinney  with Amy de Vries; Bryan Miller with Gail Needham; Jasraj Raghuwanshi with Cynthia Morrison; Sabrina Schrope with Gwen Westfall; and Tiffany Vlasenko with John Miller

Ponte Vedra High School – Abhimanyu Ahuja with Randy Blake; Margaret Barnhorst with John Weinbrenner; Megan Calvin with Catherine Snowden; Yooree Ha with Katilyn Collazo; Matthew Johnson; Nicole Johnson; John Molm with James Johnson; William O’Hara with Christine Kochan; Darryl Oswald with Christophe McArthur; Marissa Reinker with Randy Blake; and Cassia Wang with Kathryn Kehoe

St. Augustine High School – Zoe Dewith with Chelsey Baker; Caitlin Douglas with Jeff Dodd; Caitlyn Hutchings with Sgt. Robert Gober; Elsa Ingwersen with Christine Mars; Jonathan Justice with Suzanne Stauble; Deryl Long with Warren McCrary; Emily Onimus with Michael Beaman; Kyle Rose with Nathaniel Wuellner; Michael Whittaker with Clark Johnston; and Brooke Woods with Tiegh Collins

St. Joseph Academy – Delany Bolton with Michael Maloney; Athena Fruehan with Jeri Williar; Isabella Garofalo with Christopher Williams; Cynthia Hund with John Monsalve; Chandler McDevitt with Erin Flannigan

Joe Gordy, CEO of Flagler Hospital, served as emcee. School Board Chair Patrick Canan and Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner provided remarks and School Board Vice Chair Tommy Allen and School Board Members Kelly Barrera and Bill Mignon were in attendance.

The annual event is produced by Flagler Hospital in partnership with the STAR Committee Members including Daniel Burkert, PVHS; Jennifer Fornera, CHS; Melissa Roughan, BTHS; Wanda Logan, SAHS; Kim Hollis, NHS; Stephanie Jones, PMHS; Jeri Williar, St. Joseph Academy; Mary Whitfield and Cindy Pryor, Beacon of Hope Christian School and John Eaton, Colleen Hobin and Emily Stimler, Flagler Hospital. VIP Presentation Products provided the student and mentor certificate holders.

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Community Forum for Superintendent Search

button1The St. Johns County School Board will hold a Community Forum on Tuesday, April 5 from 6-7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the School District Administrative Building located at 40 Orange Street to gather input from the public as they start the search process for a new superintendent. The new superintendent will be chosen in the fall and is slated to begin in early 2017 when Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner retires following a long and very distinguished career including over 13 years as the Superintendent of Schools in St. Johns County. Feedback and characteristics will be solicited from attendees to assist in determining what the public desires in the future superintendent of the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD).

This forum is just one way for the public to be involved in the search process. A Citizens Advisory Committee will be created to assist in the review of applicants based on the district’s qualifications and public feedback. Community members interested in serving on this committee are requested to submit an application. The application must be postmarked or submitted by close of business Monday, April 25 and is available online on the district’s website at

In addition, a survey will be made available through individual schools and on the district’s website beginning Friday, April 15 to seek input on the characteristics of the next superintendent. The survey will be disseminated using the district’s mass notification system via email as well.

“Our school system is a testament to the success of St. Johns County and it is very important to have the public involved in the superintendent search,” said School Board Chair Patrick Canan. “I encourage everyone who has children in our schools or loves our community to participate in one or all of these options to make your voice heard.”

SJESPA Negotiated Agreement 2016

Negotiators for the St. Johns Education Support Professionals Association (SJESPA) and the St. Johns County School Board have reached an agreement on their 2014-2017 contract for the district’s non-instructional employees. Representatives for SJESPA and the SJCSD met during the school year to negotiate specific articles within the book included below:

  • Move one level up on the salary schedule for eligible non-instructional employees for the 2015-2016 school year.
  • An increase to the hourly rate of pay which ensures an annual increase that is no less than  $550 for those full-time employees who move one level up to step 14 for the 2015-2016 school year.
  • An annual increase of $200 for those at the top of the pay scale for the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Clarification language regarding compensation for attending inservice, retirement and grievances.

“Both teams worked together in a manner that exemplifies our relationship with one another,” said Cathy Weber, chief negotiator and director for Salaries and Benefits, SJCSD. “This is a contract that recognizes and commends the hard work our support employees do every day for the students of our district.”

“I am very pleased with our newest contract for all support staff in St. Johns County,” said Carole Gauronskas, president of the local SJESPA.  “It was a team effort that shows the willingness of both sides to come to the table and bargain in good faith.  I am very proud of the work that was done by our SJESPA bargaining team.”

After SJESPA ratified the tentative agreement, it was approved by the School Board at its monthly meeting on March 8.

SJESPA is the recognized bargaining agent for the approximately 1,500 non-instructional personnel including teacher aides, clerical staff, computer operators, bus drivers, custodians, maintenance and food service.


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.