SR 5-26-16 Volume 5, Issue 20

The closing of the school year gives me the opportunity to offer my sincere thanks to the many dedicated individuals who contribute to the success of our district.

We are most fortunate to have incredible parents who not only provide a supportive home environment, but are ready to assist our schools with every need. Thank you for your trust and for your support.

Our teaching staff is truly the most dedicated and committed group of people that I have had the opportunity to work with. I am most proud that in the face of external forces at work, along with the challenges of a rapidly growing district, our teachers kept their focus on the students. I want to offer my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for an outstanding year. Our many accomplishments would not be possible without your devotion.

This year is especially meaningful as I reflect on my final graduation ceremonies as your superintendent and the privilege of serving this wonderful community for the past 13 years. They have been the most professionally rewarding of my career, and I have all of you to thank for it.

Commencement ceremonies mark the end of our career with these students but the beginning of the next phase of their lives. It was a joy to see just over 2,000 graduates walk across the stage. I was in awe of how this year’s class not only excelled academically, but truly showed their great character and servant leadership qualities. Even more poignant is that I have taken this journey with this graduating class, starting here as your superintendent when they were entering kindergarten. We wish these graduating seniors all the best as they move on to their next step in life.

I also want to say a special thanks to our support staff.  From bus drivers, to cafeteria workers, to administrators, to clerical staff, to custodians, we have the very best.  Thank you for making this a special year for children.

We are fortunate to have a school board who makes decisions based on a philosophy of “children first.” Their leadership during difficult times has demonstrated the true character of our board, and I am proud to work with every one of them.

Our community is special because we value everyone who is a part of it…especially our wonderful children.

Best wishes for a relaxing and rewarding summer, and I look forward to an outstanding 2016-2017 school year.


Department Update

Community Relations

Superintendent Search

Applicants who are interested in applying to become the next Superintendent of Schools for St. Johns County School District may now download and complete the Superintendent Application Form. The completed and signed application and all supporting materials must be emailed no later than midnight on July 15, 2016.

Media Services

The video production team has been involved with promoting sports opportunities for women throughout district high schools in conjunction with Title IX. The female athletes of St. Johns County have proven to not only be extremely talented at their respective sports, but they also model high levels of character that are paramount to our district. We are very proud to highlight their careers and experiences during their time in high school and promote their legacy to incoming freshmen.

Every year St. Johns County participates in the Jim Harbin Video Contest in which students produce and film their own video productions to compete in a variety of categories. This year’s contest was very encouraging as we had a large number of entries as well as quite a few high school entries. District winners were selected in the beginning of May and will now compete in the regional contest. The regional winners will be announced at the end of May or the beginning of June.

RSVP/Volunteer Services

RSVP of St. Johns County

RSVP volunteers have been very busy this year fulfilling their mission to assist students with their educational pursuits, mobilize community volunteers for service and assist not-for-profit agencies in St. Johns County with special support.  They made a huge impact on academic achievement this year.  More than 600 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade received literacy enhancement, tutoring or mentoring services.  The results were higher achievement levels, increased attendance and decreased disruptive behaviors.  Volunteers also took part in special community activities including assisting with community fundraisers (ASSIST event, Bed and Breakfast Tour of Inns, Character Counts! run/walk, and RSVP fundraiser) as well as events such as the Florida Heritage Book Festival and Make A Difference Day with the St. Johns Housing Partnership.  To read more details of the service provided from this active and bighearted group, or to become an RSVP volunteer, please visit the RSVP website at

If you want to make a difference in the life of a student this year, RSVP is looking for community members to assist once per week in the district’s summer reading program.  Hours are flexible, and even if you are traveling this summer, you can help out while you are in town.  Volunteers are an integral part of the program, and even more are needed this year.  Call RSVP/Volunteer Services at 547-3945 or email for more information.

Volunteer Services

As the 2015-2016 school year comes to an end, reports show that school volunteers again gave tirelessly to students throughout the district.  With more than 18,000 volunteers providing approximately 250,000 hours of service, students and staff received support resulting in higher achievement levels as well as a culture of caring for all.  There were 34 elementary and secondary schools receiving Golden School status (for community volunteer hours and volunteer coordination) and 13 secondary schools receiving Silver School status (for student volunteer service).  We extend our sincere gratitude to all that gave their time and energy in our district this year!

Student Leadership

Recently over 180 Link Crew Leaders from Allen D. Nease, St. Augustine and Bartram Trail high schools spent a weekend at a Link Crew retreat.  The goal was to train the new student leaders for this student-to-student mentoring program that matches upperclassmen with incoming freshmen. This helps new students acclimate to the high school campus, culture and routine.  During the retreat, students learn that Link Crew is a program of inclusiveness which helps them to understand what it means to be a mentor. The new leaders learn to appreciate and respect their classmates as well as their fellow students from other schools. Students participated in mentor/leadership training, swam, played sports, had a skit night and enjoyed a large campfire ceremony where each student highlighted things about another that they learned over the weekend. Aside from this valuable training, the retreat serves to form a bond among the leaders. These student leaders can now bring this spirit of togetherness back to their respective high schools for the upcoming school year.

On the Horizon

Summer Reading and Algebra Programs

The Summer Reading Program is required for third graders who are reading below grade level and are at risk of retention.  In addition, each school may invite a limited number of kindergarten through second grade students to attend.  The Summer Reading Program provides an additional 96 hours of reading instruction in June and July.  At the end of the program, third-grade students may be promoted if they pass a test or qualify for other Good Cause Exemptions specified by the state.

The Summer Algebra Program is available for students who have completed Algebra I but did not pass the state End-of-Course (EOC) assessment.  Algebra students attend the program for 56 hours and re-take the EOC.  Students who complete the Summer Algebra Program receive a .5 elective credit.

Summer program locations are:

Summer Reading Program
June 6 – July 8
8 a.m. – noon p.m.
Summer Algebra I Program
June 27 – July 15
8 a.m. – noon
John A. Crookshank Elementary Bartram Trail High
Cunningham Creek Elementary Creekside High
Durbin Creek Elementary Allen D. Nease High
W.D. Hartley Elementary Pedro Menendez High
Mill Creek Elementary Ponte Vedra High
Ocean Palms Elementary St. Augustine High
Osceola Elementary
South Woods Elementary
The Webster School

Summer Food Service

The St. Johns County School District will be participating in the Summer Food Service Program for Children June 6-July 29.  There will be a break in service on July 4 as the school district will be closed during this time.

Nutritionally balanced meals will be provided to all children regardless of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin during summer vacation when school breakfasts and lunches are not available.  All children 18 years old and younger are eligible for meals on a first-come, first-served basis at no charge and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.  The programs are approved for geographical areas of need where 50 percent or more of the children qualify for free and reduced price meals during the school year.

Summer feeding sites that are located at schools provide meals to all children in the immediate vicinity in addition to those enrolled in summer school; however, meals are only served during the identified meal service times.

Please see the news release for additional details at

Status Report

2016-2017 Bus Routes

The St. Johns County School District’s (SJCSD) bus routes for the 2016-2017 school year were approved by the School Board at their May 10 meeting.

Once updated, the routes will be available online at  Parents without access to computers may visit any of the county public library locations, and staff will assist them in locating the website.

In an effort to conserve costs, the school district will not mail post cards regarding bus routes for the 2016-2017 school year. This information, along with other important transportation announcements, will be made available to parents through the Home Access Center (HAC).

The Transportation Department will operate 183 bus routes and transport approximately 60 percent of the district’s students twice a day when school starts on Wednesday, August 10. For additional questions or information, call the Transportation Department at 547-7810.

Summer Energy Savings Program

Beginning the week of June 6, business hours for all schools and district offices will be 7:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and will operate on a modified consolidation program with administrative teams and custodians remaining at their home schools. Summer school academic programs have been assigned to geographic areas of the district based on need. All schools and district offices will resume regular business hours beginning Monday, August 1.

Did You Know…?

  • The first day of school for 2016-2017 is Wednesday, August 10 (this is a full day, no early release). Have a great summer!

“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”
~Theodore Roosevelt, American adventurer and 26th president (1858-1919)

SR 5-16-16 Volume 5, Issue 19

The end of the year is quickly approaching and graduations are on the horizon for our seniors. We are very proud of all our graduating seniors and know they will go on to accomplish great things. Please find the graduation schedule below.

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


Be sure to visit the Superintendent Search website for information regarding the superintendent selection process. The website includes a comprehensive timeline listing important dates as well as updated information.

Department Update


New Schools

The St. Johns County School District continues to prepare to begin construction on three new schools to open for the 2017-2018 School Year.  These three schools will address extensive student growth and overcrowding in three areas of the county.  Elementary M will be located at 2675 Pacetti Road in the central portion of the county near World Golf Village.  This school will have an approximate capacity of 800 students.  The two K-8 schools will have an approximate capacity of 1,350 students each.  K-8 School KK will be built at 2135 Palm Valley Road in the Nocatee development to address growth in the northeast portion of the county.  K-8 School LL will be located at 1365 Shetland Drive in the development of Aberdeen to address growth in the northwest.

The K-8 School KK construction funding will be a combination of School Impact Fees and School Concurrency Proportionate Share Mitigation Payments, both made by developers and home builders.  Elementary School M and K-8 School LL will be funded through the voter-approved half-cent sales surtax.

More information on the new schools can be found on the school district website, including FAQs and a calendar for the school construction/opening process at

Half-Cent Sales Surtax Citizens Advisory Committee

The first meeting of the Half-Cent Sales Surtax Citizens Advisory Committee was held on April 18.  The School Board has selected a committee of citizens with relevant expertise to assist the district in fulfilling the mandate from the St. Johns County voters.  The purpose of this committee is to monitor and advise the School Board on the expenditure of the sales tax proceeds.  The committee will meet quarterly and will provide an annual report to the School Board.  A committee chair, vice chair and secretary were also selected. This committee will begin to monitor the expenditures related to the construction of Elementary M and K-8 School LL, along with the purchase of an 800 MHz radio system designed to expand communication with law enforcement and enhance the safety of students on school buses.

On the Horizon

There are lots of end-of-year activities taking place as the school year comes to a close. Be sure to check your student’s individual school website for information and events.


Status Report

Betty Griffin House “A Day Without Violence” Calendar Art and Poetry Contest Winners

Art Winners:

St. Joseph Academy

Yuanting Zhan (Betsy), 11th Grade, Cover and First Place

Honorable Mentions

Nina Rogers, 9th grade
Joshua Cebajios, 9th grade
Jane Zhong, 10th grade

Creekside High School

Samantha Boudreaux, 10th Grade, Second Place

Honorable Mention

Saima Hossain, 11th grade

W.D. Hartley Elementary School

Honorable Mentions

Gabriel Pace , 2nd grade
Tyban Garner, 3rd grade
Samuel Sylvester, kindergarten

Bartram Trail High School

Honorable Mentions

Keely Lardizabal, 12th grade
Praewphan Nakbun, 11th grade
Camryn Hulsey, 11th grade

Liberty Pines Academy

Honorable Mention

Luka Klipa, Kindergarten


Poetry Winners:

Ketterlinus Elementary

Trinity Gill, 2nd grade, First Place

Honorable Mention

Jacob Dux, 2nd grade

Fruit Cove Middle School

Logan Mohtashemi,  7th Grade, Second Place

Honorable Mentions

Andrew Ferris, 7th grade
Dominic Bucca, 7th grade
Cal Davis, 7th grade
Elyse Soracco, 7th grade
Isabella Bruno, 7th grade

R.J. Murray Middle School

Honorable Mentions

Peyton Crevasse, 6th grade
Megan Gieselman, 6th grade

Wards Creek Elementary

Honorable Mention

Nicholas Chapman, 5th grade

Bartram Trail High School

Honorable Mention

Brittany Donor, 11th grade

Elementary Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Fair

The St. Johns County Elementary Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fair was held at Palencia Elementary School on Saturday, May 14.  The purpose of this event was to encourage and celebrate student interest in STEM with the primary goal of promoting student use of STEM to solve real-world problems.

Did You Know…?

  • The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument invites visitors to spend a little more time at the nation’s oldest masonry fort, with Centennial Evenings scheduled throughout the summer in honor of the National Park Service’s 100th Anniversary. This program features extended hours from 5 to 7 p.m. on the third Friday of each month from May to September 2016, giving guests more time to informally explore the history and importance of the Castillo. For additional information please call (904) 829-6506 ext. 233.
    Admission: Regular admission rates apply: $10 for adults 16 and older; free for children 15 and under.
    When: Extended hours are from 5 to 7 p.m. on the third Friday of each month from May to September 2016. Dates are May 20, June 17, July 15, August 19, and September 16, 2016.
    Where: The Castillo de San Marcos is located at 1 S. Castillo Dr. in St. Augustine, FL 32084.

“Without civic morality communities perish; without personal morality their survival has no value.”
~Bertrand Russell, British mathematician and philosopher (1872-1970)

SR 5-2-16 Volume 5, Issue 18

The week of May 2-6 is Teacher Appreciation Week and it gives us the opportunity to thank all our teachers for the continual excellence they put into their craft every day.

Teachers have a special quality that compels them to unselfishly focus on the needs of others.  In doing so, they become true servant leaders.  This service to our children is born from an intrinsic motivation to help others succeed that is hard to explain to those who do not teach.

“Teachers who love teaching, teach children to love learning.” ~Robert John Meehan

Inspiring good character and a passion for lifelong learning in all students, the heart of our mission statement, is the common thread I see while visiting schools…teachers shaping young minds and inspiring engaged learning in the children they teach.

To the teachers in our district, including substitute teachers, please know that you have my sincerest gratitude for the profession you have chosen, the work that you do each day and for the love, dedication and support you so selflessly give to our children.

For the rest of us, I ask each of you to take a moment to say thank you to teachers, past or present, who have had a positive impact on your life or a member of your family.

The state of Florida recognizes the month of May as Teacher Appreciation Month.  Schools throughout the county celebrate this observance during the month, with individual schools coordinating their own teacher recognition activities. A proclamation recognizing May 2-6, 2016, as Teacher and Substitute Teacher Appreciation Week will be read at the School Board meeting on Tuesday, May 10 at 9 a.m.

Department Update

Academic and Student Services



Exceptional Student Education

The Florida National Deaf Agenda Team has a sub-committee focusing on Transition 14+. The sub-committee is currently working on Transition Lessons Pilot Project and is comprised of program specialists and teachers from St. Johns, Broward and Duval County. It is the task of the committee to match expanded core curriculum skills with transition goals.  Materials from this project will be published as model lesson plans for teachers across the state of Florida and shared at the National Deaf Education Summit.

Michelle Downing, a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing for the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD), was named the 2016 Florida Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Teacher of the Year last month by the Florida Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (FEDHH). The FEDHH is an association that provides a forum for the exchange of current information, teaching strategies and legislature related to working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Michelle was selected from five semi-finalists statewide who were nominated by parents, peers and administrators. The Teacher of the Year was selected by the FEDHH Board of Directors, which is comprised of professionals from across the state in the field of deaf education.

Planning, Accountability and Assessment

FSA Testing

Students completed the writing portion of the Florida Standards Assessment last month. Florida Standards Assessment are currently being administered in reading and math to students in Grades 3 – 10. Testing began on April 11 and will continue until May 6. The computer-based has been going well and schools were able to complete all of the testing to date without any significant technology issues.

  • The Florida Standards Alternate Assessment, for students with disabilities who are exempt from the Florida Standards Assessment, began February 29 and completed on April 29. This assessment replaces the Florida Alternative Assessment.
  • This year the state implemented a new assessment for English Language Learners. The assessment is provided by the WIDA Consortium and is called ACCESS 2.0. This assessment replaces the Comprehensive English Language Learners Assessment (CELLA). This test is used to determine how well students who have arrived speaking a foreign language are learning English. The testing window began on February 8 and closed on March 25. Results to be expected to be reported by mid-May.
  •  The state End-of-Course (EOC) exams in Algebra I, Algebra 2, Biology, Civics, Geometry and US History began on April 18 and will continue until May 13.

The Planning, Accountability, and Assessment Department has been working with teachers from many different subject areas over the past few months. Item analysis reports from last year’s tests were provided to teachers and they received training on using the data to make decisions about test items.  Teachers also spent time reviewing content to be used in future assessments. This collaborative process helps ensure that students are tested using the most valid, reliable, and relevant test items.


Instructional Resources and Media Services

“Shrimp Boat City”

The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum recently published the second edition of a book titled “Shrimp Boat City.” The book focuses on the historic boat building and commercial shrimping industries here in St. Augustine. A tremendous thank you goes out to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and the Versaggi family for hosting many of the St. Johns County School District media specialists as well as several district office staff and school board members at the historic lighthouse on April 6.  The Versaggi family has generously donated a copy of “Shrimp Boat City” to each school.

Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment courses allow students to earn college credit while still enrolled as high school students.  Spring courses will end soon and all materials are due back to the Fullerwood Center, located at 10 Hildreth Dr., by May 4 to avoid late fees.  Materials for summer courses will be available for check out beginning May 2. For more information on dual enrollment, please visit

Instructional Services

Resources for Secondary Students to Prepare for State EOC Assessments or District Final Exams

The district is in the window for state assessments in English language arts and math, eighth-grade science, and EOC exams which count for 30 percent of a student’s final course grade (seventh-grade civics, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Biology and U.S. History).  For courses that do not have a state assessment, district final exams will be given during the last 10 days of school and those will be 5 percent of the second semester grade for middle school students and 10 percent of the second semester grade for high school students.

How can a student prepare?  Teachers will be the first source and guide for students and, in addition, the Secondary Instructional Services Department has year-at-a-glance resources for language arts, math, science, social studies and world languages, grades 6–12.  These pacing guides provide week-by-week topics and resources for parents, students and tutors, and are a great place to identify areas of strength and the possible need growth for students.  They are available at

Below is a list of additional information on the district website at

  • Guide to Algebra I EOC
  • Guide to Geometry EOC
  • Guide to Algebra II EOC
  • Guide to Biology EOC

Summer Algebra Camp

For all students, passing the Algebra I EOC is a graduation requirement.  If you child is enrolled in Algebra I and does not earn a passing score on the EOC this spring, help is available.  Each high school site will offer summer algebra camp to prepare students for a retake of the Algebra I EOC on July 14 and 15.  The program runs 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., Monday through Friday, June 27 – July 15, except July 4. Transportation is provided.  Students who complete the summer algebra camp earn a half credit elective and may qualify for grade forgiveness as well.  For more information, contact your school counselor or assistant principal.

Career and Technical Education

Career Academies

The Career Academies launched a new application system this year to address capacity and demand in the most effective way possible.  Over 2,200 students applied.  Of those, 2,031 students were placed in their first choice district-wide.  There are currently less than 1 percent of students on a waiting list for the programs for which they applied.

The Annual Academy Awards was held on April 14 from 5:00-6:30 at the Fullerwood Center.  Herff Jones was selected as the Business Partner of the Year.  St Johns County Mosquito Control was selected as the Rookie Business Partner of the Year.

Congratulations to Brian Radaker! Mr. Radaker, a teacher at Gamble Rogers Middle School, is the 2016 First Coast Manufacturing Association (FCMA) Teacher of the Year based on his work with Carlisle IT and robotics.

Professional Development

The Professional Development department is planning and preparing for learning and growth opportunities for teachers, administrators, new hires and non-instructional personnel this summer.  On May 31 and June 1, three teachers from each school will participate in a technology training that will cover topics such as Digital Citizenship, Blended Digital Learning, the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) and Office 365.  Teachers will leave fully equipped to integrate technology into their lessons in order to maximize student engagement when school resumes in August.  The Florida Association of School Administrators (FASA) is partnering with the St. Johns County School District to provide a Leadership Development Day on June 9 for all school-based administrators.  In addition, plans are well under way for the New Employee Orientation on August 2 at Pacetti Bay Middle School where district leaders will welcome all new hires for the 2016-2017 school year as well as provide needed training for a great start.  August 3 is the first official day that instructional personnel will report to work and will kick the year off with a full day of professional development and collaboration. Training opportunities will be held across the district for teachers of all subjects and grade levels.

Educational Support Services

Leadership development and training continues to engage various groups in sessions relevant to the culture of SJCSD and to provide the knowledge and skills applicable to their assigned department within the district.  The 34 participants in the Phase I Leadership Academy recently completed reading “The Truth About Leadership” followed by a book discussion led by Ted Banton, Assistant Principal at Sebastian Middle School and Paula Steele.  In the Phase II, Year 2 Leadership Academy the Assistant Principals have been looking deeper into their understanding of the departments within the SJCSD.  They have also read and discussed “The Principal” by Michael Fullan.  The Phase III and Phase IV mentor/mentees have recently discussed using the book “Strengths Based Leadership” to establish leadership teams at their schools. Next month they will tackle the topic of change and discuss components required to successfully navigate through transitions.  The first year of Leadership Counts!@SJCSD is coming to a close.  The participants in that group have been exposed to best leadership practices, facilitative behaviors, multi-generations in the workplace and collaboration and communication skills.

Investing in Kids (INK)

The Five Learning Years (FLY) program has completed services in the district’s Title I schools impacting VPK and kindergarten students. Resource teachers delivered small group instruction to students in an effort to prepare them for kindergarten or to get them on level with their peers.  Test scores are being evaluated to determine student gains.  By the end of April, FLY will be providing the same instruction to approximately 10-15 children at the Woodlawn Terrace Apartments.  Parent outreach continues in partnership with the St. Johns County Library System.

The Take Stock in Children program recently held its annual Bright Beginnings ceremony.  The celebration was in honor of the eight high school seniors who are graduating with a two-year college tuition scholarship.  Additionally, 30 middle school students were inducted into the program.  Volunteer mentors are being recruited to help these students stay academically focused.

A total of 680 orders from Tools 4 Schools at the Bailey Group Resource Depot were filled and delivered to teachers across the district.  Many thanks to the Bailey Group, the Transitions School students at the Evelyn Hamblen Center, INK staff, and Dennis Cumisky who made this possible.  The site is currently closed for restocking and maintenance and will reopen Monday, August 29.  Eight schools are participating in cleaning out student lockers and donating new or gently used items into the Bailey Group Resource Depot.  A special thank you to Lisa Kunze at Switzerland Point for initiating the locker clean out.

Save the Date!  The annual Boot Scootin BBQ fundraiser is set for Saturday, October 1.  For additional information please contact Donna Lueders at (904) 547-7120 or


School Services

Hardship Out-of-Zone Transfer Applications

The School Services Department has been reviewing the Hardship Out-of-Zone Transfer Applications received to date.  The online and paper applications are available on the district website at and must be submitted annually.  Parents are encouraged to complete and submit the application as early as possible.  With an average of over 1,800 applications being processed each year, early submissions help to keep the process moving.

The Student Code of Conduct is being reviewed for updates and revisions for the 2016-17 school year.   Suggestions are gathered from district administrators, principals, assistant principals and deans of students, school SAC teams, and the district’s legal counsel.

The department is presenting programs at all middle and K-8 schools, showcasing interscholastic athletic opportunities for rising ninth-grade female students during April and May. Several of high schools finished up with exceptionally successful sports seasons recently.

Health Services

On March 18 Flagler Hospital hosted an all-day training event for district nurses.  Many topics were covered including asthma in pediatric patients, diabetes in the school setting, drug use in adolescents and youth mental health issues.  The Flagler Life Institute planned the event and awarded each nurse with six Continuing Education Units (CEUs) free of charge to the district.  Flagler Hospital continues to be a valuable partner to the SJCSD Health Services Program.

Student Services


Recently, two students in the Aid and Support for Students in Sudden Transition (ASSIST) program were awarded a $1,000 scholarship each through Somebody Cares at the Carefest fundraiser banquet. The Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront will host the annual ASSIST senior dinner on May 25. Approximately 12 college-bound seniors will receive laptops with software programs donated by the Tesori Foundation.

Your participation will be appreciated at the Patricia Nash Memorial Hillbilly Golf Benefit at the St. Augustine Shores golf course on June 26, 2016. This is a fundraiser for the ASSIST program. Also, purchasing TPC tickets through the ASSIST program will contribute $25 from each ticket to the ASSIST fund. Purchase online at

Mental Health

Sheriff David Shoar is requiring all St. Johns Sheriff’s Office employees to attend a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program. The Student Services mental health staff is providing the training for the juvenile mental health component. The mental health staff also conducted a training for district bus drivers regarding signs and symptoms of child abuse. Staff participated on the Child Welfare and Behavioral Health Integration team, the Human Trafficking Coalition and the Child Abuse Death Review (CADR) committee.

Our sincere appreciation and thanks goes to the many district employees who are mentoring our at-risk students! We have many more at-risk students in need of a mentor. Please consider mentoring a student and encourage coworkers to participate.

Guidance and Choice

St. Johns Virtual School

In accordance with F.S. 1003.498, F.S. 1001.42, 1002.37 and 1002.45, St. Johns Virtual School (SJVS) offers three full-time and part-time virtual instruction options to all St. Johns County students in grades K through 12 for the 2016-2017 school year.  The SJVS open enrollment period for full-time enrollment and part-time courses for the 2016-17 school year is April 12 to July 11, 2016. To achieve academic success, online students must be self-disciplined, self-motivated, responsible, and ready to accept the challenge of rigorous online course work. Parents must play an active role in monitoring their child’s progress and make sure their child maintains a regimented work schedule. While virtual instruction does allow some daily flexibility, students must make progress in each course at an established weekly pace.

SJVS full-time is a program of choice, meaning that students must apply and be accepted for admission. Full-time students must complete a minimum of six courses per semester and comply with all state course standards and assessment requirements.  To learn more about your virtual options and apply to the program, please visit or contact Mr. Michael Eisen at

SJVS part-time enrollment options, both during and outside the regular school day are also available. As an additional reminder, all standard policies in the student progression plan, including school-based course request/registration and drop/add policies apply to virtual courses.  To meet learning needs, SJVS is expanding teacher access during the school day, offering greater flexibility including summer courses, and providing enhanced lessons and district  support to help keep students engaged and on track.

If you are considering having your student take a virtual course while enrolled at your current school, please complete the pre-registration survey on  and contact your school counselor for advisement and approval.

Student Leadership

Student leadership involvement continues to thrive in St. Johns County.  On April 1, 15 Link Crew student leaders from Allen D. Nease High School (NHS) hosted nine Where Everybody Belongs (WEB) student leaders from Pacetti Bay Middle School (PBMS) for activities and a question and answer session about what high school is really like.  The day concluded with all of the students having lunch together so the middle schoolers could experience a real high school lunch.  This day builds on a December event when WEB leaders from PBMS hosted fifth-grade students from Mill Creek Elementary School in a similar activity.

On April 13, 30 Link Crew leaders from St. Augustine High School (SAHS) and five from NHS joined together to help with the 2nd annual Elementary Olympics.  The SAHS students helped run the events while the NHS students kept the crowd pumped up with free t-shirt giveaways.  All of the students stayed after the event to help clean up the track, stadium and grounds. Thanks to these student leaders for helping to make a successful event.

On the Horizon

Kindergarten Pre-Registration

The upcoming pre-Registration date for the 2016-2017 school year is on Monday, May 9 from 1 – 5 p.m.

The list of required documents can be found on the school district website. Updates and changes have been made to the residency process and can be found at


Elementary Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Fair

The St. Johns County Elementary Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fair will be held at Palencia Elementary School on Saturday May 14 from 8-11 a.m.  The purpose of this event is to encourage and celebrate student interest in STEM with the primary goal of promoting student use of STEM to solve real-world problems.  Student representation will be decided at the school level.  Teachers, parents, administrators, and community members are welcome to attend.

Status Report

Florida State Science Fair 

Florida’s 61st State Science and Engineering Fair held in Lakeland March 29-31 included 14 projects by St. Johns County School District students. Each of these students, representing three middle and two high schools, took home awards, including categorical awards and special awards. These special awards included college scholarships, monetary incentives or unique opportunities to attend programs such as summer Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) camps.

The journey to this highly regarded state event began in January at the St. Johns County Science Fair held on the campus of Sebastian Middle School. Open to all district public, private and home school students, the Science Fair is coordinated by Marna Fox, Secondary Science Program Specialist, and Brian Morgan, Elementary Science Program Specialist.

Elementary Olympics

EO Logo

The Elementary Olympics links academics and character education through athletic competition.  Over 200 student athletes representing 20 elementary schools participated in the 2015 inaugural event last year and this year’s event was even bigger.

The 2016 Elementary Olympics took place April 13 at St. Augustine High School.  Parents, teachers, administrators, school mascots and community members attended in support of the hard-working students. The “Character Cup” trophy was awarded to Hickory Creek Elementary School for display during the 2016-2017 school year.

 Did You Know…?

  • St. Johns Cultural Council is pleased to present the St. Augustine Camera Club’s (SACC) Fifth Annual Juried Member Photography Show on display in the Rotunda Gallery in the St. Johns County Administration Building.  The exhibit will be on display from May 3 through June 8.  The Administrative Building is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 am until 5 pm. The opening reception will be at 8:15 a.m. on May 3 prior to the Board of County Commission meeting.  The public is welcome to attend.
  • Cathedral Parish School is presenting a free community event. Author and speaker Dr. Michele Borba will be speaking on parenting, bullying and character on Tuesday, May 17 at 6:30 the Flagler College Lewis Auditorium, 14 Granada St. in St. Augustine. To order free tickets or for more information, visit or call (904) 669-4376.

“One of the basic causes for all the trouble in the world today is that people talk too much and think too little. They act impulsively without thinking. I always try to think before I talk.”
~Margaret Chase Smith, politician (1897-1995)

SR 4-14-16 Volume 5, Issue 17

It was a pleasure to recognize our 2015-2016 Outstanding Volunteers of the Year during our ninth annual celebration last week.

Jasraj Raghuwanshi , a senior at Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS), is this year’s Outstanding Youth Volunteer. Jasraj was also selected as the Region II Outstanding Youth Volunteer by the Florida Department of Education.  This makes him one of the top five youth volunteers in the state. He created a public relations campaign as an ambassador for the International Baccalaureate program at PMHS helping to dramatically increase the number of students in the program.  A highlight of his volunteer work has been creating and coordinating the annual Cultural Fair for the last three years.  This event is still going strong, drawing hundreds each year.

In support of the school district’s CHARACTER COUNTS! program, Jasraj, as a junior, became an inaugural member and the president of Link Crew, a student-to-student mentoring program, and is continuing this year.  He helps new students navigate their first year as they enter the academic and social high school environment and serves as a resource for information. He is an original member of LIMBS, helping to raise money for prosthetic limbs for amputees in developing countries, and also helps to fight Multiple Sclerosis.  Providing more than 650 hours of volunteer service while in high school, Jasraj has taken part in Model United Nations, National Honor Society, Athletic Leadership Council, varsity swim team, Camp Corral, Camp Ocala, Special Olympics, peer tutoring, and tutoring elementary students.

Outstanding Adult Volunteer Heather Mowrey, a volunteer at R.B. Hunt Elementary School (RBHES), has made a lasting impact on students, as well as systemic advancements for her school.  Through Ms. Mowrey’s involvement and presidency of the PTAO, funds were raised to purchase student computer stations, iPads for teacher and student use, Smart Boards, and ceiling mounting of LCD projectors in classrooms.  Putting this technology in the hands of students was a critical component of preparing students for the rigor of FSA testing.  Funds raised through her leadership have also been used to purchase student periodicals, paid for teachers to attend workshops, and helped to pay for the Accelerated Reader program.  Hundreds of students have been helped through her academic tutoring and she has brought a Girls On The Run club to RBHES. Volunteering for nine years, and contributing 695 hours of service in the last 18 months alone, she is the embodiment of servant leadership.

This year’s Outstanding Senior Volunteer is Tera Hunt who volunteers at W.D. Hartley Elementary School (HES).  Ms. Hunt has impacted 30 students who have reading challenges in one-to-one and small group settings.  On many occasions, she has spent time with troubled students giving each one the time, attention and genuine love needed to be successful while forming friendships for life.  She has donated 204 hours of service in the last 18 months through direct student support, as well as coordination of PTO events and fundraisers, creating bulletin boards and assisting with clerical tasks.  One of the most unique tasks included arranging to have a piglet on the HES campus for the principal to kiss as an incentive for raising funds for technology.  She participates in many community efforts as well, including Leadership and Youth Leadership St. Johns.

The evening included the announcement of the district-wide Family and Community Involvement Award winners.  These awards are presented to an elementary school and a secondary school each year for innovative school practices that increase family involvement. The elementary winner was Timberlin Creek for its family literacy night. This year’s district winner at the secondary level was Allen D. Nease High School (NHS) for its SOUPer Bowl event. This event raised funds to assist Blessings in a Backpack, which provides food to hundreds of students in St. Johns County.  The NHS SOUPer Bowl event was also chosen as the Region II winner by the Florida Department of Education.  This distinction makes it one of the top five programs in the state for middle/high schools.  NHS will be honored at the PTA State Leadership Conference this summer. In addition, volunteer coordinators from each school were recognized.

The individuals honored at this event were just a few of the 20,597 volunteers who contributed 298,559 hours of service to our schools during the past year.  Cheryl Freeman, volunteer coordinator for the St. Johns County School District, served as event coordinator.

In addition, I am pleased to announce new principal appointments.

Wayne King, principal at Valley Ridge Academy (VRA), has been selected to be the principal of Sebastian Middle School (SMS). Ryan Player, principal at White Knoll High School in Lexington, SC, has been selected to be the principal of Alice B. Landrum Middle School (LMS). Sandra McMandon, principal at Durbin Creek Elementary, has been selected to be the principal at VRA. Their nominations will be presented to the School Board at its May 10 meeting.

Mr. 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.

Mr. 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.

Executive Cabinet Update

Information Technology

Security Awareness

The district has had a few recent cases of email spoofing.  Spoofing occurs when email is sent to you that looks like it is from a friend or co-worker but is really from someone looking to do harm.  This can fool most people because it looks official.   When you look at these spoofing messages carefully they are usually a little off in terms of format or language used or signature and by what is being requested.  The tell tale sign will be a request that is out of the ordinary or just wrong.

For example, if you receive an email to provide a list of all students in your school to provide their name, SSN, birth date, address, grade and phone number in an attachment, employees know that most of that information is confidential and would not be requested in that way.   Furthermore, when sending confidential information in an email as an attachment, it must be encrypted (using AES 128/256 bit encryption per District Security Awareness Note).

The district employs SPAM and JUNK Mail filters to help weed out harmful and unwanted email.   Algorithms and blacklisted sites are used to filter and block unwanted email.   Thousands of spam email messages are blocked each day that employees never see.

In the end, you must make the call whether something looks official (by its appearance or by what is being requested and how it is being requested) or not.  If there is any doubt, please call the individual to verify the request.   In addition, please avoid clicking any links in email from someone you do not know or suspect is not official (this action will most likely lead to a virus from a harmful source).

Network Upgrades

We continue to upgrade out network each year.  This year we are upgrading six sites to IP-based phones (Mill Creek, John A. Crookshank, Cunningham Creek and Julington Creek elementary schools, The Webster School and the Evelyn B. Hamblen Center).  This upgrade greatly improves efficiency and lowers cost.  In addition, this new IP-based phone system will make supporting personnel moves and changes much easier.

The same six sites are also being upgraded to the new “ac” wireless standard that is several times faster than the previous system. This will enable students and teachers to access the Internet at much faster speeds.

The district’s Internet connection speed was recently doubled.  This expansion will enable much improved upload and download speeds for students and staff.   In addition, this upgrade included adding another Internet host which will soon provide fail over if either connection to the Internet is lost.   These are all part of the infrastructure and bandwidth upgrade projects that are included in our goals for this year.

On the Horizon


Kindergarten Pre-Registration

Pre-Registration dates for the 2016-2017 school year are scheduled as follows:   

Monday, May 9 1 – 5 p.m.

The list of required documents can be found on the school district website. Updates and changes have been made to the residency process and can be found at

Career Academy Awards

The annual Career Academy Awards to recognize academy business partners is on Thursday, April 14 at the Fullerwood Center at 5 p.m. this event honors partners of the Career Academies of St. Johns and provides the district the opportunity to recognize their efforts and some of the outstanding initiatives of this school year.

American Youth Character Awards Banquet

The annual American Youth Character Awards Banquet will be held on Thursday, April 28 at 6 p.m. at Anastasia Baptist Church. This event recognizes high school juniors and seniors throughout the county who have been nominated by their schools for displaying the Six Pillars of Character — Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, Citizenship– in their daily lives. Also, two students will be awarded special scholarships, the David Macaulay Mathis Memorial Pursuing Victory with Honor Award for displaying character on the athletic field and the Tucker McCarty Memorial Scholarship for exuding good character in an effort to make the world a better place.

Status Report


National Substitute Teacher Recognition Week

The St. Johns County School District is joining thousands of educators across the country during the week of May 2, 2016, in recognizing substitute teachers as part of National Substitute Teacher Recognition Week. Sub Week is a effort to recognize over 270,000 men and women that fill in for absent permanent teachers every day in the United States.  On a typical day, St. Johns County places approximately 175 substitute teachers in its classrooms. Too often we get so busy and overlook the challenge that exists when taking over a classroom from a permanent teacher and providing a valuable education experience.  Please take an opportunity to say “thank you” to those members of our community who take on this challenge. According to the Substitute Teaching Institute at Utah State University, research shows that because of teacher absenteeism, one full year of a child’s K-12 education is taught by substitute teachers. Thank you to the over 550 substitute teachers who have filled more than 23,737 absences this school year.

Many of the schools in the district have activities planned to honor and recognize their subs during this week.

Middle School STEM Summer Camp Winners

This week the St. Augustine Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) announcing the winners of the 2016 STEM Summer Camp for rising 8th grade girls.  The AAUW interviewed eighteen nominees from St. Johns County and wrote that they were impressed by the students’ self-confidence and enthusiasm about their interests in math, science, and technology.  Seven of the nominees were selected for the week-long camp to be held at Palm Beach State College in Boca Raton.  Only 60 girls were selected for the camp state-wide.  The Florida AAUW and its branches fund raise year-round to fund the $1,000 cost per camper.

St. Johns Nominees

Caeli Benyacko – Liberty Pines Academy

Isabella DiStefano – Alice B. Landrum Middle School

Isabelle Smith – Sebastian Middle School

Kimberly Brooks – Pacetti Bay Middle School

Kira Sass – Valley Ridge Academy

Leighanna Goldman – Patriot Oaks Academy

Mya Helhoski – Sebastian Middle School

 Did You Know…?

  • Do you know kids who can’t get enough of spiders, crickets and lightning bugs? Do they keep creepy-crawly things in glass jars in their bedroom? They might just want to grow up to be an entomologist. The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is here to help your budding bug enthusiast follow their passion with a host of activities featured during Bug Week, May 21-27. To get started, check out the Bug Week webpage at

“Every right implies a responsibility, every opportunity an obligation, every possession a duty.”

~John D. Rockefeller, Jr., entrepreneur (1839-1937)


SR 3-31-16 Volume 5, Issue 16

National Volunteer Week is April 10-16 and provides the perfect opportunity to thank all those who selflessly contribute their time, talents and skills to our district. During this important week, national, regional and local organizations applaud the efforts of volunteers as well as inspire and encourage people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. The St. Johns County School District is privileged to have more than 20,500 volunteers who gave nearly 300,000 hours of service last year to help our teachers and students. Our volunteers meet a diverse set of needs that include reading to children, serving as classroom aides, tutoring and mentoring students, chaperoning field trips along with various other activities such as participating in school support organizations. Our school district would not be as successful as it is today without them.

All of our Outstanding Volunteers of the Year will be recognized at a reception being held in their honor on Thursday, April 7 at 6 p.m. at First Coast Technical College. This year’s theme is “Volunteers are Superheros!” and is a fitting tribute for the tireless work they perform all year long. Awards will be presented in the senior, adult and youth categories. My heartfelt gratitude to all of our volunteers who support us so fully, I look forward to recognizing your contributions at the reception.

Executive Cabinet Update

Human Resources

Wellness Centers Update

The Human Resources Department continues to work on the transition of the employee healthcare centers to Marathon Health, the new provider.  As the district works through this process, updates will be provided to employees through information on the benefits bulletin board at each school’s location, home mailings, and emails from site wellness coordinators.  The locations of the centers will remain the same and scheduling will be more convenient when Marathon Health becomes the wellness center provider. The approach that Marathon Health brings is a focus on wellness and prevention by helping people become active in their own healthcare.  This strategy not only positively impacts medical claims as a whole, but more importantly, helps participants achieve their personal wellness goals.  For more information about Marathon Health and to read stories of people who use their services, please visit

Teacher Recruitment Fair

On Saturday, April 2, the St. Johns County School District is sponsoring a Teacher Recruitment Fair at St. Augustine High School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The focus of the fair is to provide interested educators information on teaching in St. Johns County schools and the opportunity to speak with teachers, principals, and assistant principals from the district. Candidates will also be able to visit with the ESE department, professional development, benefits, certification, teacher evaluation and curriculum specialists.  Assistance with the online application process will also be available.  There are currently over 230 teachers registered for this event from as far away as Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wyoming, as well as Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.


On the Horizon

Kindergarten Pre-Registration

Pre-Registration dates for the 2016-2017 school year are scheduled as follows:   

Friday, April 8   9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Monday, May 9 1 – 5 p.m.


The list of required documents can be found on the school district website. Updates and changes have been made to the residency process and can be found at

Outstanding School Volunteer Reception

The annual reception to honor school volunteers and volunteer coordinators is Thursday, April 7 at 6 p.m. at First Coast Technical College, Bldg. C, located at 2980 Collins Ave. Please contact the Volunteer Services Department at 547-3945 for more information.

Status Report

Jeans Day Fundraiser

On January 26, the St. Johns County School District held its second annual “Love to the Rescue” jeans day. The day’s efforts raised $1,825.25 donated to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Tampa.


Shriners Hospitals for Children provides specialized care to children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate, regardless of their financial situation. More information can be found on their website at

School-Related Employee of the Year

Rick Testasecca, Exceptional Student Education (ESE) paraprofessional at St. Johns Technical High School (SJTHS), has been named the St. Johns County School District’s School-Related Employee of the Year for 2015-2016. His selection was announced at a reception held last month at the World Golf Hall of Fame Museum. Rick Testasecca has been employed at SJTHS since 2014 where he works with students in grades 6-12. He holds a B.A. in history as well as B.A. in sociology from the University of North Florida and is currently enrolled in the master’s program at Southern New Hampshire University. He goes above and beyond in professional development, taking advantage of almost every opportunity to attend trainings. Rick is an extraordinary paraprofessional and possesses a sincere willingness to help students, especially those with special needs. His dedication, caring nature and positive spirit have become evident in his two short years with the school. Not only is Rick vastly knowledgeable in his field, his rapport with teachers and his instant connection with the students he serves has made him an invaluable member of the SJTHS team. Rick’s name has now been forwarded to the Florida DOE for consideration at the state level.

Did You Know…?

  • The St. Augustine Beach Police Department is hosting the first Bike Rodeo for kids 3-15 years of age on Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the St. Augustine Beach Police Department located at 2300 A1A South. Bring your bike, helmet and a parent or guardian for free bike inspections, rider safety introduction and an interactive obstacle and skills course. Goodie bags and free helmets for participants while supplies last.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
~Mark Twain, American writer (1835-1910)

SR 3-8-16 Volume 5, Issue 15

March is Arts in Education month, a time to recognize the outstanding music, theater and art programs within our schools. Many schools will be participating in district and state visual and performing arts activities, so be sure to check with your school regarding upcoming arts celebrations and events.

The St. Augustine Art Association is presenting the 11th annual All-County High School Art Show March 4-26.  Art teachers in all district high schools selected a combined total of 150 student works of art for the exhibit. The materials range from experimental digital media and graphite studies to abstract pottery and sculptural assemblages.  Installed by teacher Rebecca Williams and coordinated by St. Johns County Fine Arts Program Specialist Tommy Bledsoe, the exhibition is being judged by Cable Spence, an artist, musician and Advisory Board member of the St. Augustine Art Association. The student winners will be recognized at the April 12 School Board meeting.

Our thanks to the St. Augustine Art Association, who is the partner and co-sponsor of this event as well as for the upcoming All-County Middle School Art show in April. Congratulations to all the dedicated teachers and students who participate in these incredible displays showcasing the many talents of our students.


Executive Cabinet Update



Facilities and New Construction

Facilities staff is working on the design and site plans for three new schools including an elementary school in the World Golf Village area, and two K-8 schools, one in the Aberdeen community and one in the Nocatee community.

A two-story, 22-classroom addition at John A. Crookshank Elementary School is underway and on schedule to be completed by summer of 2016.

Design and planning for renovations and an expansion at Allen D. Nease High School is progressing and construction is scheduled to begin in May.  Included in the plans are a 60,000 square-foot, two-story classroom; new administrative offices and a new media center; a dining room expansion; kitchen renovation as well as a new bus loop.

The portable classrooms at Sebastian Middle School have been fully renovated and now house the Sebastian Administrative Annex.


The Maintenance Department is currently conducting preventative maintenance (PM) visits to all schools and administrative facilities throughout the district. These visits consist of three PM teams who perform preventative maintenance and repairs required for the preservation of each facility. The teams spend two weeks at the elementary and middle schools, as well as the administrative facilities, while spending three weeks at each high school. At this time 33 schools have received PM for the 2015-2016 school year, ensuring all facilities are well maintained. Additionally, the Maintenance Department is preparing for the completion of capital outlay projects scheduled to take place during spring break and the summer months.

Building Code Administration

Annually the Building Code Administration staff perform Fire Safety, Casualty and Sanitation inspections at all of the district facilities. As of February 2016 all safety State Requirements for Educational Facilities (SREF) inspections have been completed. Re-inspections to verify corrections to observed deficiencies will begin the first week of March. Any deficiencies noted will be corrected by April 1.

Energy Management

The district experienced a cost avoidance of over $85,000 during the two-week Winter Break. Seven years after implementing an energy management program, compliance continues to improve with the 2015 winter break energy audit the best to date. The Energy Management Department would like to commend employees for making sure all electronics were turned off in all areas, and as well as maintenance coordinators for setting all air conditioning/heating schedules to unoccupied.


The Transportation Department has been transporting approximately 19,672 children to and from school each day since the start of the second semester in 2016. The transportation team is demonstrating innovation and foresight to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and, most importantly, safety in student transportation operations. Among the initiatives is Operation Safe Ride, which allows for state certified instructors to validate the bus operator’s compliance to state statutes and the Florida Department of Education guidelines. Additionally, the Transportation Department is preparing to pilot a student accountability and ridership system aboard six school buses beginning in April, as well as upgrading the transportation radio systems on all 220 buses this summer. The new radio system is the same 800 MHz series used countywide by the law enforcement, fire rescue, public works and other county services.

On the Horizon


Kindergarten Pre-Registration

Pre-Registration dates for the 2016-2017 school year are scheduled as follows:   

Thursday, March 10 1 – 5 p.m.
Friday, April 8   9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Monday, May 9 1 – 5 p.m.


The list of required documents can be found on the school district website. Updates and changes have been made to the residency process and can be found at

School-Related Employee of the Year Reception

The School-Related Employees of the Year (SREY) have been chosen from each of the district’s 36 schools, one charter school and four district departments. A reception in their honor will be held on Thursday, March 17 at 6 p.m. at the World Golf Hall of Museum at World Golf Village.

STAR Banquet

The STAR Banquet will be held on Wednesday, April 6 at the Renaissance WGV at 5:30 p.m. The STAR Awards Banquet honors the top 3 percent of the graduating seniors in high school. Each student recognizes an influential teacher and writes a brief summary that is read by the principal.  Parents are also invited.  Please contact the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce for more information.

Outstanding School Volunteer Reception

The annual reception to honor school volunteers and volunteer coordinators is Thursday, April 7 at 6 p.m. at First Coast Technical College, Bldg. C, located at 2980 Collins Ave. Please contact the Volunteer Services Department at 547-3945 for more information.

Status Report


School-Related Employees of the Year

The 2015-2016 School-Related Employees of the Year have been selected from each of the district’s 36 schools, along with four district representatives and one charter school. 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 candidates and the winner of the St. Johns County School-Related Employee of the Year will be announced at a reception to honor all of the nominees on March 17 at the World Golf Hall of Fame Museum. The St. Johns County nominee’s name will then be submitted to compete at the state level.

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 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 Leeona 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
Virginia “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 C. 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

Did You Know…?

  • The 3rd annual Pinwheel Parade Against Child Abuse will be held on Saturday, April 2, 10-11:30 a.m. at the St. Augustine Youth Services (SAYS) campus located at 6624 US 1 South . There will be a ceremonial “parade” around the campus, refreshments, free children’s activities plus tables set up with parenting information and people on hand to answer questions about the resources available in St. Johns County. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and since 1989, people nationwide wear the blue ribbon and carry blue pinwheels in April to create awareness of the need to keep kids safe and families strong.

“A promise made is a debt unpaid.”
~Robert W. Service, American poet (1874-1958)

SR 2-26-16 Volume 5, Issue 14

It was my pleasure to attend this year’s History Fair. The fair is an outstanding academic competition that enhances the teaching and learning of history in secondary schools.  Students who participate develop intellectual, personal and practical skills that will serve them throughout life. It was exciting to see the hundreds of quality projects that are taking place in our schools. High quality, guided research is the purest form of learning, so what students achieve through a history project is the essence of education.

Congratulations to the 2016 Best Overall History Fair winner Creekside High School senior Charles Sherwood for his research paper, “Playing Revolution: Soviet Encounters in China from 1917-1928.”

This year over 200 students from three high schools, one K-8 school, and four middle schools participated in the fourth annual History Fair. This year’s theme was “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.”  Students conduct research using primary and secondary sources on topics related to the theme and present their findings in a historical paper, exhibit, documentary, performance or website.

The District History Fair was held at First Coast Technical College on February 23. First- and second-place district winners in each category and division have the opportunity to advance to the state contest in Tallahassee in May. Similarly, first- and second-place state winners in each category and division earn the right to represent Florida at the National History Day competition in College Park, Maryland in June.

Junior division winners

Individual website: First — Kason Ancelin, Switzerland Point Middle, “Louis Pasteur’s Fight Against Disease”; second — Jennifer Balestra, Alice B. Landrum Middle, “Nellie Bly and Her Exploration of Americas Insane Asylums”; third — Joshua Jacobs, Fruit Cove Middle, “Expensive Explorations”.

Group website: First — Nathaniel Duck, Colin Ngin and Daniel Goodrich, Switzerland Point, “Challenger”; second — Jordan Sabo and Lindsey Sabo, Switzerland Point, “Encounter of the Solanas: Influence on Florida”; third — Mohit Ballikar, Deven Ellis and Joshua Prohofsky, Fruit Cove, “What went wrong between Andrew Jackson and the Cherokee Nation”.

Individual performance: First — Nima Goodman, Landrum, “Exploration of the Life of Pocahontas”.

Group performance: First — Ethan Grunow-Drew and Alan Michael, Switzerland Point, “Fibonacci”; second — Ainsley Wiechens and Kayla Wiechens, Switzerland Point, “Ruth Wakefield”; third — Philip Baratelli, Lucas Comparato, Brady Teichman and Jude Howell, Fruit Cove, “Sparta’s Encounter with Romans”.

Individual documentary: First — Elliot Kantor, Landrum, “The Silk Road”; second — Jenna Forcier, Fruit Cove, “Juan Ponce De Leon and the Myth of the Fountain of Youth”; third — Wade Miller, Switzerland Point, “Space Race”.

Group documentary: First — Lauren Donalson and Kaitlyn Rouzie, Switzerland Point, “The Cubo Line and City Gate Protection and Security to the Nation’s Oldest City”; second — Alia Farooque and Camille Aguilar, Switzerland Point, “Small Pox”; third — Marina Mechetti, Carolina Mechetti and Lily Quick, Landrum, “The Exploration of Flight”.

Individual exhibit: First — Veronica Czajkowski, Patriot Oaks Academy, “Black Death”; second — Taylor Hampson, Fruit Cove, “King Henry VIII, his Influence of the Protestant Reformation, and the Motives of Pligrimages and Exploration to the New World”; third — Remington Chenore, Landrum, “The Radioactive Lady: Marie Curie”.

Group exhibit: First — Julia Martin and Caroline Rice, Fruit Cove, “Exploration of How Greek Mythology Affects Society”; second — Ava Nelms and Sophia Peake, Sebastian Middle, “Lewis and Clark”; third — Lauren Alexis Edmonds and Addison Bullen, Switzerland Point, “Lost Ships of St. Augustine”.

Research paper: First — Angela Ramsey, Switzerland Point, “Genghis Khan”; second — Hanna Do, Patriot Oaks, “Triangle Factory Fire”; third — Ashton Monk, Landrum, “Little Boy and Fat Man”.

Senior division winners

Individual website: First — Danielle Haddock, Creekside High, “Can you Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?”; second — Adawe Bosworth, St. Augustine High, “Japanese Internment Camp”; third — Amanda Donahue, Ponte Vedra High, “Irish Immigration: A Cultural Exchange”; honorable mention — Adam Snowden, Ponte Vedra, “Fighting Yellow Jack: How the U.S. Army Yellow Fever Commission Identified the Culprit Behind the Spread of Yellow Fever”.

Group website: First — Ben Honiker and Noah Kathe, Creekside, “The Viking Invasions of the British Isles 793-900 AD”; second — Elizabeth Fox, Frank Lukens and Harrison Snowden, Ponte Vedra, “Marie Tharp: Mapping the Ocean Floor”; third — Elliott Steele and Brighton Ancelin, Creekside, “The Space Race: US vs. USSR”.

Individual documentary: First — Shelby Brackett, Creekside, “Mabury vs. Madison”.

Group documentary: First — Ciara Boulos and Mia Andrews, St. Augustine, “Dr. Seuss: Perfectly Political”.

Individual exhibit: First — Nicholas Famularo, Ponte Vedra, “Zheng He: Admiral of the Western Seas”; second — Andrew Brownett, “The Young Apprentice of WWI”.

Group exhibit: First — Katherine Slava and Maia Medley, St. Augustine, “One Small Step for a Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind”; second — Matt Adams and Nicholas Rodgers, St. Augustine, “Midway”; third — Mairead “Maggie” Boylan, Taylor Noon and Aleyna Turker, Ponte Vedra, “Feminist Art and its Movement”.

Research paper: First — Charles Sherwood, Creekside, “Playing Revolution: Soviet Encounters in China from 1917-1928” (overall winner); second — Rachel Barden, Creekside, “Horace Mann and the Public School Reform”; third — John Middleton, Ponte Vedra, “Exchanges and Encounters: Early New Spain in the North American Southwest”.

Business and Fiscal Services Update

Executive Cabinet Update


Accounting, Payroll and Accounts Payable Departments

The payroll department issued 5,663 Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statements to current and former district employees.  Of these, 2,541 were processed electronically to employees on January 15 and the remaining 3,122 were provided in paper format on January 30.  In addition, the accounts payable department processed and issued 632 IRS 1099 Tax Forms to district vendors.

Budget Department

Beginning each February, the budget department turns its attention to the next school year.  Preparations are being made to build the schools’ operating budgets.  At the same time, all district department budgets are being formulated.

Food and Nutrition Services Department

Food and Nutrition Services is getting settled into a new office at the Sebastian Middle School Administrative Annex.  Planning for the summer feeding program is in high gear.  The Summer Feeding Program serves breakfast and lunch to children 18 years of age or younger.  Sites are determined by geographical economic need.  There are two types of summer feeding sites, closed and open.  Closed sites serve children who are enrolled in a sponsor’s program, and open sites serve anyone 18 years of age or younger as walk-ins.  Summer feeding sites will be determined as the end of the school year gets closer.  Information on available sites can be found on the Summer BreakSpot website at

Purchasing Department

Marathon Health

The Purchasing Department, in partnership with Human Resources, has worked to negotiate and enter into an agreement with Marathon Health.  This agreement allows the district to continue providing quality onsite health care services at our three existing health centers.  The transition is expected to take place in April.

Competitive Bids

Members of the purchasing department will conduct a workshop this spring focused on “How to Participate in Competitive Solicitations.”  Numerous topics will be discussed that should prove helpful when responding to a Bid, Request for Proposal, Request for Qualifications or Formal Quote.


On the Horizon

Kindergarten Pre-Registration

Pre-Registration dates for the 2016-2017 school year are scheduled as follows:   

Thursday, March 10 1 – 5 p.m.
Friday, April 8   9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Monday, May 9 1 – 5 p.m.


The list of required documents can be found on the school district website. Updates and changes have been made to the residency process and can be found at

School-Related Employee of the Year Reception

The School-Related Employees of the Year (SREY) have been chosen from each of the district’s 36 schools, one charter school and four district departments. A reception in their honor will be held on Thursday, March 17 at 6 p.m. at the World Golf Hall of Museum at World Golf Village.

Status Report

St. Johns Technical High School Student Wins Local PSA Contest

Congratulations to Lorin Capallia, a 10th-grade student at St. Johns Technical High School, as one of two student winners in the Positively Jax Public Service Announcement (PSA) Contest sponsored by WJXT Channel 4. Students in grades 6-12 created storyboards for a 30 second PSA on an issue important to teens.  Some of the topics submitted included Teen Suicide; Stress; Bullying; Texting and Driving; Body Image; and Peer Pressure.  Entries were judged based on creativity, effectiveness of message, relevance to teen audience and overall presentation.  Winning PSAs were professionally produced by WJXT Channel 4 and aired on Channel 4 and ThisTV Jacksonville. Lorin created her Safe Driving PSA, which focused on the hazards of distracted driving, under the direction of teacher Megan Young.

Did You Know…?

  • VSA Florida recently announced a partnership with the St. Johns County School District. From March 4-18, St. Augustine High School, located at 3205 Varella Ave. in St. Augustine, will exhibit artwork created by students with disabilities from St. Augustine High School and The Webster School.  A public reception will be held on March 9 at 5 p.m.  This program is supported by a generous grant from the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida through the Dr. JoAnn Crisp-Ellert fund. VSA Florida, a not-for-profit organization, coordinates a statewide My Art My Way artist in residence program for students with and without disabilities in the public schools.

“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”
~Anthony J. D’Angelo, American author

SR 2-11-16 Volume 5, Issue 13

It was my pleasure to announce Laurie Zentz, a band teacher at Switzerland Point Middle School (SPMS), as the St. Johns County School District Teacher of the Year during an awards banquet, produced by Investing in Kids! (INK), held last month at the Renaissance Resort World Golf Village.

Mrs. Zentz has taught within the district for 20 of her 29 years in the teaching profession. Her classroom management style mirrors her philosophy that “every student is someone’s child…handle with care.” While teaching band she relates real-world experiences which help her students grasp terms and concepts in a way that reinforces their learning.

Mrs. Zentz walked into the classroom at SPMS in 2011 to a group of 150 students. Over the last five years it has grown to over 400 students making it the largest band program in the county. She has created an environment which works in harmony with her strategies to develop strong fundamentals. She now offers four beginning band classes, four advanced band classes and two jazz ensemble classes.

It is an honor to have Mrs. Zentz representing St. Johns County as our Teacher of the Year. Her dedication is beyond reproach, and she is a model for exemplary teaching throughout the state of Florida.

Congratulations to Maegan Cassel, a third-grade teacher at Cunningham Creek Elementary, who was named the 2016 Rookie Teacher of the Year.

While only in her second year of teaching, Cunningham Creek is not new to her. It’s where she went to elementary school and where she interned while studying at the University of North Florida. Her teaching philosophy is that comfort and trust lead to success, often requiring students to work with a partner or small group to work through questions.

“When they are randomly partnered, they are required to show respect by facing their partner, giving them eye contact, and speaking in complete sentences to create conversation, even when that wouldn’t have been the partner of their choice,” she wrote in her application. “The respect that each individual gives their partner allows them to feel more open to speaking about their ideas and personal connections.” In her spare time, she volunteers for her church, where she has assisted in starting a Saturday evening service focusing on younger adults and families.

This is the ninth year of the rookie competition, in which eligible teachers must have taught fewer than three years.

The theme for this year’s Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year celebration was “Teachers are out of this world: A Stellar Celebration.” The guest speaker was former astronaut Jon McBride.

Executive Cabinet Update

Academic and Student Services Update


Exceptional Student Education

On December 16, teachers of the visually impaired hosted a roundtable discussion to address current events, issues and solutions.  The topics addressed included Unified English Braille, Goalball, Division of blind services (DBS), Vision Education and Rehabilitation Center at FCCJ (VERC), and Camp Abilities. In addition to St. Johns County, several other districts and service providers participated including Duval, Marion, Nassau, Flagler, Clay counties; The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind; Vision Education and Rehabilitation Center; and the Division of Blind Services.

On December 17, teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) organized and hosted the Second Annual Northeast Itinerant Roundtable.  Teachers for the DHH came together to collaborate on innovative teaching strategies, challenges, technology and state mandates involving DHH students.  Participating districts and service providers included St. Johns, Duval, Marion, Nassau, Flagler, Putnam, Clay, Baker counties; Resource Materials and Technology Center: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Outreach Services for the Deaf and the Blind; and Florida Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

The DHH program for St. Johns County is hosting the first “The Deafinition” vocabulary contest on May 5.  This contest is open to all middle and high school students who are deaf or hard of hearing in St. Johns County, surrounding counties and The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.  The competition is an excellent opportunity for the students to increase their knowledge of vocabulary words found in each subject area as well as in the community.  The students are already studying their word lists and are very excited to meet, interact and work with other students from various schools.

Planning, Accountability and Assessment

School Advisory Council Surveys
Each school in the district has a School Advisory Council (SAC). A SAC is a team of people representing various stakeholder groups who work together to improve the school. SAC team members are diverse including parents, teachers, students, administrators, support staff, and community members. SAC teams meet once per month to review the budget, discuss school updates and plan for the future.

SAC surveys are now posted for parent, students, and faculty/staff responses through March 31. SAC surveys contain 15 common district questions plus additional questions developed by the school’s SAC. Survey data is valuable in steering the direction of the school and it is used to help develop each school’s School Improvement Plan.

Please visit your school’s SAC website or contact your school’s SAC chairperson for more information about the SAC and the 2015-2016 SAC survey.

Early Warning Systems
Schools who serve students in grades 6-8 review student progress periodically and focus on assisting those who show early warning signs including an attendance rate of less than 90 percent; one or more suspensions; course failure in English Language Arts (ELA) or Math, and/or Level 1 score on the ELA or math statewide assessment. Parents of students who show two or more of these early warning signs are encouraged to talk to their school about developing a plan for assistance. Addressing and minimizing these risk factors increases the likelihood of on-time graduation and preparedness for the future.

The Assessment Department is currently preparing for the Infrastructure Trial on the AIR testing platform and getting an early look at the upgraded Pearson system, “Pearson Next”, for the NGSSS testing.

The schools will be testing their first year English Language Learners next month using the WIDA ACCESS 2.0. This is a new assessment designed to tell us where a student is in the English learning process. WIDA ACCESS 2.0 replaces the Comprehensive English Language Learner Assessment used in the past. School testing coordinators have been training with the new assessment materials this month.

Discovery Education assessment window c opens next week for the optional progress monitoring of elementary and middle school students in reading and math.

Federal Programs

WIDA ELD Standards Framework and ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 test
The state of Florida adopted the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) English Language Development (ELD) Standards Framework to help promote the social, instructional, and academic language English Language Learners (ELLs) need in order to be successful in engaging with peers, educators and the curriculum.

To assess students’ growth within the four domains of language (listening, reading, speaking, and writing), ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs, which aligns with the WIDA ELD Standards, will be administered to students February 8 – March 18.

Shameka Gilyard, Program Specialist, and David Burns, ESOL teacher, have been providing training of the standards district-wide and providing support to school staff and teachers of ELL students. Mr. Burns continues to provide dynamic language acquisition lessons through the content areas using the WIDA ELD Standards Framework to promote the social, instructional, and academic language of ELL students.


Instructional Services Elementary and Secondary Education

Planning for the district Summer Reading Program is currently taking place. The program will be available to students in kindergarten through third grade who meet the requirements.

The dates and times of the program are:
June 6-July 8, 8 a.m.-noon, Monday-Friday; closed on July 4.

Additional information, including locations and job postings, will be shared as soon as possible.

Students enrolled in Algebra I will take the Florida Standards End-of-Course (EOC) assessment this spring.  Earning a passing score on the EOC is a graduation requirement.  Students who do not earn a passing score are encouraged to attend the Summer Algebra Program, offered at each high school, June 27 – July 15 (except July 4).  Students will attend 8 a.m. to noon and transportation will be provided.

Career and Technical Education

February is National Career and Technical Education Month.  The High School Showcase held January 21 hosted 3,000 parents and students who were exploring their options for high school.

Instructional Resources and Media Services

Media Services is proud to announce that Kate Neff, Media Specialist at Pedro Menendez High School, was recently awarded the Florida Power Library Award at FAME.  Lorraine Cosgrove, Media Program Specialist, received the Florida Association of District Instructional Materials Administrator’s Outstanding Leadership Award. Please join us in congratulating these staff members on their accomplishments.

FL Power Library

The School Board has approved the instructional materials for the 2016 adoption cycle.  The list of materials is now available on the district website at  Parents of currently enrolled students are encouraged to review the materials being recommended by the adoption committees. The Instructional Resources and Media Services Department can be reached at (904) 547-3947.

Professional Development

The Professional Development department coordinated a district in-service day on February 5 with over 170 training and learning opportunities offered. All teachers and many staff members participated in professional development designed to positively impact student achievement and character development.  Using teacher collaboration, as well as experts in the field of education, and highly skilled local educators as facilitators, the in-service allowed educators the opportunity to engage in meaningful learning that enhances professional growth and provides the tools to meet the continually changing needs of students.


Strategic Planning
The St. Johns County School District’s current Strategic Plan is being revised and updated for 2016-2021.  On January 11, the Strategic Planning Team met to begin the formation of the new Strategic Plan.  Much of the discussion was based around questions for a survey that was launched on Tuesday, January 26 to students, teachers, administrators, parents, community members and focus groups.  The survey ended on February 2, and the responses returned will provide excellent feedback on the direction and path of the 2016-2021 Strategic Plan.

Leadership Academies
Each of the district’s Leadership Academies leadership groups (Phase I, Phase II, Phase III, Phase IV and Leadership Counts!@SJCSD) have been engaged in learning more about the SJCSD, completing self-assessments, applying effective communication skills in tabletop activities, and reading and discussing leadership books.  An integral part of the sessions has been presentations by key department leaders.  The associate superintendents along with staff members have helped the participants understand more deeply the functions of the department they represent.

In Leadership Counts!@SJCSD, the department leaders have led sessions on communication skills, leadership and management characteristics, ethics in the workplace, and facilitative behaviors.  Participants meet fellow staff members who they may not interact with on a daily basis.  In Phase III and IV, the mentees and mentors have participated in focused discussions on creating strong leadership teams at their schools.  Ideas have been shared and content related to the Deliberate Practice was chosen for the administrators.

All of the leadership learning sessions provide an opportunity to build connections among people within the district that will continue to foster the SJCSD culture.


School Services

Hardship Out of Zone Transfers
Principals will be distributing a letter to parents regarding the 2016-2017 Out-of-Zone Hardship Transfer Process.  The Hardship Out-of-Zone Transfer Application for 2016-2017 will go live in mid-February on the School District website at  There are no changes for the attendance zones for the upcoming school year.

School Safety
Annually, schools review and update emergency operations plans and hold meetings of safety team committees.  Schools practice with lockdown drills and each school reviews its evacuation procedures.  The district continues to work closely with local law enforcement to improve emergency preparedness, communication and enhancing safety for all students and staff.

Athletics Department
Congratulations to all of our fall and winter sports teams for successful seasons.  At the end of the fall season, state championship titles were earned by the Bartram Trail High School Girls Swim Team, Creekside High Boys Cross Country and Boys Swim teams, and the Ponte Vedra High Boys Golf Team.

The spring sports season will soon be underway at the high schools.  Look for spring schedules for baseball, tennis, lacrosse, track/field, softball and weightlifting on each high school’s website.

Health Services

Flagler Hospital’s Life Institute is planning an upcoming in-service day for school nurses which will cover everything from immunization requirements to school emergency response.  The training will be a full day and the nurses will receive continuing education credit at no cost to the district.

Student Services

Due to agreements with multiple mental health providers, the district is currently providing school-based mental health therapy to over 75 students. This collaborative effort with community providers has allowed the district to assist students with coping mechanisms, anger management skills, and other challenges that often interfere with a student’s ability to learn.

Over the holiday season, 65 food baskets were distributed to families in need. There were 195 at-risk families, including 542 children, able to enjoy holiday gifts due to the district’s partnership with Firefighters for Families. Additionally, 42 families (128 children) received gifts due to assistance from school district employees, SJEA, Board of Realtors, Pirates of St. Augustine, Coldwell Banker Premier Properties, the Hilton Hotel, and many other local individuals. Our sincere gratitude is extended to all who assisted our families!

College tours are scheduled in February and March for high school seniors who qualify for the ASSIST program. These students will visit St. Johns River College, First Coast Technical Institute, Jacksonville University, and the University of North Florida.

Guidance and Choice

St. Johns Virtual School (SJVS)
In an effort to meet the growing demand for virtual courses, SJVS has developed an online virtual course request for all students who want to take courses this summer or beginning next school year. Completing the pre-registration allows the SJVS team to ensure that students can have their virtual course approved by their school counselor and have an instructor ready from the first day of school.   Enrollment information and links to the request form can be found at

St Johns Virtual School, in partnership with St Johns Technical High School, has established a new National Honor Society chapter. This program provides an additional opportunity to encourage academic achievement and service while developing leadership skills in students.  Currently, there are eight students from St. Johns Technical High School and nine students from St. Johns Virtual School in the membership.

Student Leadership

Character Education
The Community Relations department presented CHARACTER COUNTS! (CC!) at a PACT “Lunch n’ Learn” last month.  The presentation detailed the importance of the CC! initiative in our community and how this program is relevant for students of all ages as well as businesses and organizations.  More CC! presentations have been scheduled throughout the community and at the Florida School Health Association Conference.

Switzerland Point Middle School (SPMS) is starting a B6 Club under the leadership of teacher Sheri Worth. The B6 Club is a review the Six Pillars of Character and how they can be applied in middle school.  The students take ideas and create school-based activities as well as community projects.  SPMS joins Fruit Cove Middle School and St. Johns Technical High School as schools hosting B6 Clubs.

The department is close to completing work on a “Link Crew/WEB” video highlighting these student-to-student mentoring programs at the district’s middle and high schools.

WEB students at Pacetti Bay Middle School hosted fifth-grade students from Mill Creek Elementary for a day of discussion and activities about middle school.  The fifth graders are part of the Mill Creek “LEADS” program where students work on the daily news program and mentor other students.  The WEB students answered questions, played games and generally served to demystify middle school and help the elementary students understand that the same good habits that led them to success in elementary school will continue to serve them in middle school.

Finally, the Pillar Patrol and CC! the Pillar have recently visited Valley Ridge Academy and R.B. Hunt Elementary School.

On the Horizon

History Fair

The History Fair is an excellent and exciting academic competition that enhances the teaching and learning of history in the secondary schools.  Students who participate develop intellectual, personal and practical skills that will serve them throughout life.

This year’s theme is “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History.”  Students in grades 6 – 12 conduct research using primary and secondary sources on topics related to the theme and present their findings in a historical paper, exhibit, documentary, performance or website.

The District History Fair will be held at First Coast Technical College on Tuesday, February 23 from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. First- and second-place district winners in each category and division have the opportunity to advance to the state contest in Tallahassee in May. Similarly, first- and second-place state winners in each category and division earn the right to represent Florida at the National History Day competition in College Park, Maryland in June.

Kindergarten Pre-Registration

Pre-Registration dates for the 2016-2017 school year are scheduled as follows:   

Thursday, March 10 1 – 5 p.m.
Friday, April 8   9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Monday, May 9 1 – 5 p.m.


The list of required documents can be found on the school district website. Updates and changes have been made to the residency process and can be found at


Status Report

Science Fair Winners

The 2015-2016 St. Johns County Science Fair was held at Sebastian Middle School on January 20.  Top honors for best overall in the Senior Division went to Brighton Ancelin, Creekside High School, for his project “Logical Levitation: Achieving Magnetic Levitation via Computational Feedback Loop” and Adam Snowden of Ponte Vedra High School for “Producing a Modified, Capacity-efficient Adeno-associated Virus Vector Using a Surface Bonded Green Florescent Protein to Visualize Infection in Multiple Cell Types.”

Taylor “TJ” Kaminsky of Alice B. Landrum Middle School won top honors for best overall in the Junior Division.  TJ’s project was titled “The Realignment of Circadian to Ultradian Rhythms in Arabidopsis Thaliana: An Investigation into Monophasic vs. Polyphasic Photoperiods.”

Approximately 100 science projects represented by 125 participants were showcased at the St. Johns County Science Fair. This annual academic competition is designed to challenge students to meticulously apply science process skills and content knowledge in order to investigate scientific questions of their own choosing. Participants also experience the importance of practicing science ethics and responsibility on a personal level.

Fifteen students representing five St. Johns County schools will attend the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair in Lakeland, March 29-31. The participants are TJ Kaminsky, Landrum Middle School; Madison Toonder, Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS); Cassia Wang, PVHS; Brighton Ancelin, Creekside High School; Adam Snowden, PVHS; Joseph Parimucha, Pacetti Bay Middle School; Miuru Warusawithana, Patriot Oaks Academy, Rishabh Singh POA; Yooree Ha, PVHS; Abhimanyu Ahuja, PVHS; Gabriela Ramirez, PVHS; Ariana Genovese, PVHS; Chase Lendry, PVHS; John Molm, PVHS; Cullen Smith, PVHS.

Brighton Ancelin and Adam Snowden will represent St. Johns County Schools at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona in May.

The Science Fair winners will be recognized at the School Board meeting on Tuesday, March 8 at 9 a.m.

Did You Know…?

  • St. Johns County School District employees have a unique opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree through the Public Administration Program at Flagler College.  It is exceptionally affordable, high quality, and conveniently scheduled.  Thanks to the Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG), which all Florida residents qualify for, the total out-of-pocket tuition for the 2015-2016 academic year was only $550.  Tuition is expected to be similar for the 2016-2017 academic year.  Flagler College offers this opportunity as a community service, and it allows students to complete their bachelor’s degree in just five semesters. The college accepts working professionals from the public, private, and non-profit sectors who have an A.A. or A.S. degree, or who have 60 transferable college credit hours from a regionally accredited college or university. For information on the curriculum and faculty, or to register, please visit

“Nice words are free, so choose ones that please another’s ears.”
~Vietnamese proverb

SR 1-25-16 Volume 5, Issue 12

Congratulations go to our five district Teacher of the Year finalists. I know you will join me in me in applauding these teachers who are the best of the best! The finalists are Courtney Fenner of John A. Crookshank Elementary; Brian Elmore of Ketterlinus Elementary; Laurie Zentz of Switzerland Point Middle; Jennifer Sparks of Durbin Creek Elementary; and Catie Grimes of Patriot Oaks Academy.

This is just a small sample of the individuals we are so fortunate to have teaching our children. Each year I am amazed at the love, dedication and professionalism of our teachers. It will be my honor to recognize these exceptional finalists, and all of our Teachers of the Year, at the 36th annual Teacher of the Year Celebration.

The overall winner will be announced at the celebration on Tuesday, January 26 at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort. The winner’s name will be included for consideration as the Florida Department of Education Macy’s Teacher of the Year 2016.

The Rookie Teacher of the Year will also be announced at the awards banquet. This is the ninth year for the rookie award, in which eligible teachers must have taught fewer than three years.

Executive Cabinet Update

Human Resources Update

Substitute Teachers

Currently the district has a pool of over 500 substitute teachers with 150 of those hired in the fall of this school year. In the total pool, over 150 are certified teachers and available for long-term teaching positions. Another 35 recent graduates from teacher preparation programs will be trained as substitute teachers in February 2016.

On the Horizon

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

The fourth annual CHARACTER COUNTS! Six Pillars 6K/3K Run Walk is on Saturday, February 6, 2016, at 9 a.m. at Palencia Elementary School, 355 Palencia Village Dr. Register online at

History Fair

This year’s History Fair will take place on Tuesday, February 23 at First Coast Technical College (FCTC) beginning at 9 a.m. The awards presentation will be Wednesday, February 24 at FCTC at 6 p.m. Viewing of the projects is from 5-6 p.m. Contact 547-7733 for more information.

Status Report

District Spelling Bee

Sreeniketh Vogoti, a seventh-grade student at Fruit Cove Middle School, won the 2016 St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) Spelling Bee held earlier this month at the Fullerwood Learning Center. He won by spelling the word “reprieve” correctly. It took 49 rounds for the winner to be determined. Runner-up was Mary Kathryn Reynolds of Ocean Palms Elementary School. Sreeniketh will be recognized at the regular School Board meeting on Tuesday, February 9.

Celebrate Literacy Week

Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! is a week-long celebration from Jan. 25 – 29, 2016, to raise awareness for literacy programs and projects offered by the Department of Education’s Just Read, Florida! office, and its partner agencies and organizations. The eighth annual Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! focuses on civics, and reminds students of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the impact an individual can have on their community. The theme this year is “Literacy Changes Our World.”

The week’s events are made possible by these participating sponsors: Florida Lottery; Scholastic; Legoland; and the Florida Education Foundation. The Department of Education actively works with community groups and volunteers throughout the state to make reading a priority in students’ lives. For more information about Just Read, Florida!, visit


Did You Know…?

  • St. Johns County School District employees have a unique opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree through the Public Administration Program at Flagler College.  It is exceptionally affordable, high quality, and conveniently scheduled.  Thanks to the Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG), which all Florida residents qualify for, the total out-of-pocket tuition for the 2015-2016 academic year was only $550.  Tuition is expected to be similar for the 2016-2017 academic year.  Flagler College offers this opportunity as a community service, and it allows students to complete their bachelor’s degree in just five semesters. The college accepts working professionals from the public, private, and non-profit sectors who have an A.A. or A.S. degree, or who have 60 transferable college credit hours from a regionally accredited college or university. For information on the curriculum and faculty, or to register, please visit

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

~Martin Luther King Jr., American civil rights leader (1929 – 1968)

SR 1-12-16 Volume 5, Issue 11

I am pleased to report that the state Board of Education voted on January 6 to accept the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) cut scores as recommended by Commissioner Pam Stewart. School board members and superintendents were unified in their support of these recommendations and I am grateful that the State Board listened to parents and practitioners. In spite of what may have been reported, these are not relaxed standards. To the contrary, the Commissioner’s recommendations represent an appropriate and challenging raising of the bar for Florida’s Standards.

The State Board also confirmed the Commissioner’s recommendations for school grading benchmarks. While they were statutorily restrained from our request to hold grades in abeyance this year, these benchmarks represent an appropriate starting point that can be built upon in the future.

I want to personally thank all of those who contacted the state board members on this very critical issue. I firmly believe your involvement made a difference in the outcome. This decision is a victory for the children in the state of Florida and for our accountability system.

If you are interested in continuing your advocacy efforts, the 2016 Legislative Session begins Tuesday, January 12 and will end on March 11. The St. Johns County School Board approved our district’s legislative platform on October 13, 2015 for this upcoming session. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the items relating to funding, assessment and instructional materials, charter school accountability and school safety as we work to make change to ensure the vitality of our district. The legislative platform can be found at

I am looking forward to a wonderful remainder of the 2015-2016 school year and wish you a very Happy New Year.

Executive Cabinet Update

Operations Update

Planning and Government Relations

The School District is in the planning stages for three new schools to be constructed and open for the 2017-2018 School Year.  K-8 schools will be constructed in both the Aberdeen and Nocatee communities, along with an elementary school in the World Golf Village area.  These schools will be constructed from prototype architectural designs.  Two of the schools will be funded by the half-cent sales tax recently approved by the voters of St. Johns County.  One school will be funded by a combination of School Impact Fees and School Concurrency Proportionate Share Mitigation payments made by developers.

On the Horizon

District Spelling Bee

The District Spelling Bee will be held on Wednesday, January 13, 2016, at 9 a.m. in the auditorium of the Fullerwood Building, located at 10 Hildreth Dr., St. Augustine.

Science Fair

Science Fair will be on Wednesday, January 20, 2016, at Sebastian Middle School from 9-11:30 a.m. The Science Fair Awards Night is also on January 20, 2016, at Sebastian Middle School at 7 p.m. The viewing of projects will be open at 6:30 p.m.

Teacher of the Year Celebration

The 36th annual Teacher of the Year Celebration is designed to honor outstanding teachers who play a thoughtful, caring, and influential role in the lives of young people.

The celebration will be held on Tuesday, January 26, 6-9 p.m. at the Renaissance® World Golf Village Resort. The cost is $45 per guest and includes dinner and awards presentation.  Register or sponsor via the website at

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

The fourth annual CHARACTER COUNTS! Six Pillars 6K/3K Run Walk is on Saturday, February 6, 2016, at 9 a.m. at Palencia Elementary School, 355 Palencia Village Dr. Register online at Register by January 16, 2016, to guarantee a run t-shirt.

Status Report


Sunshine State Scholar and Elaine Crutchfield Scholarship Recipients

The Sunshine State Scholars (SSS) Recognition Program for high school students was initiated in 1997 to recognize excellence in mathematics and science. It has evolved into a program designed to recognize Florida’s top high school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students and recruit them to pursue their postsecondary education in Florida. This year’s St. Johns County recipient is Zachary Villaverde from Bartram Trail High School. As the St. Johns County Sunshine State Scholar, Zachary is the recipient of the annual Elaine Crutchfield Math and Science Scholarship of $100. Elaine Crutchfield worked for the school district for 29 years serving as both a math and science teacher before being named the district curriculum coordinator. Adam Snowden from Ponte Vedra High School was selected as the district alternate and is receiving a $75 scholarship.

The other school nominees are receiving $50 scholarships. They are Jacob Posey from Creekside High School, Malavika Nair from Allen D. Nease High School, Kara Landing from Pedro Menendez High School, Philip Schnotalla from St. Augustine High School and Madalena Marselli from St. Johns Virtual School.

This year, the Elaine Crutchfield Scholarship funds are being sponsored by Matthews Design Group.

All of the Sunshine State Scholar students will be recognized at the School Board meeting Tuesday, January 12 at 6 p.m.

Jim Harbin FAME Student-Produced Media State Winner

Congratulations to Matthew Warren, who placed third in the state in the Grades 3-5 Animation category, for his video named CST-100 while he was a fifth-grader at Julington Creek Elementary School last year. Teacher sponsor was Ingrid Jones and the Media Specialist was Lori Gallaher. Matt Keene of the SJCSD Community Relations Department is the regional chair for the Jim Harbin Awards.  The annual Jim Harbin Awards are presented to students for outstanding student-produced media presentations.  The award is named in honor of a former consultant with the Florida Department of Education who originated the idea of a student festival. The Student Media Festival is sponsored annually by the Florida Association of Media in Education (FAME) to encourage students to communicate through media production and to recognize outstanding presentations. Matthew, Ms. Jones, Ms. Gallaher and Mr. Keene will all be recognized at the School Board meeting Tuesday, January 12 at 6 p.m.

Did You Know…?

  • The 36th Matanzas 5K & Fun Run is January 30, 2016. Proceeds from this event go to support cross country teams at St. Johns County high schools and middle schools. The Matanzas 5000 has raised over $100,000 for running programs in St. Johns County schools! For race entry, race Expo and sponsorship information, please visit or on Facebook at

“Whatever your grade or position, if you know how and when to speak, and when to remain silent, your chances of real success are proportionately increased.”
~Ralph C. Smedley, American founder of Toastmasters International (1878-1965)