School-Related Employee of the Year 2018

Miriam Testasecca, the executive secretary for the School Board of the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD), has been named the SJCSD 2018 School-Related Employee of the Year (SREY). Her selection was announced by Superintendent Mr. Tim Forson at last week’s SREY reception held March 15 at the World Golf Hall of Fame Museum. Testasecca was selected from 44 nominees for her exemplary job performance, dedication, interpersonal skills, leadership ability, training and contributions to the SJCSD and the community.

Testasecca has been employed as the School Board’s executive secretary for six years and has 17 years overall with the school district. She is a dedicated and efficient professional who serves all five board members with varied requirements and expectations. Her excellent organizational skills enable her to handle multiple tasks of differing levels of complexity. Her welcoming demeanor and service attitude are characteristic of her encounters with the general public. She is also the bookkeeper for 19 internal district accounts and prides herself on the attention to detail to avoid deficiencies and errors. She has never had a deficiency noted in an audit of those accounts.

“Mrs. Testasecca is totally responsive and supportive to our needs as a school board, and as individual board members,” said School Board Chair Bill Mignon. “She helps to keep us all on track and the service she provides is invaluable. Her loyalty and commitment to the school district and the community is a reflection of her steadfast dedication.”

In addition, she has been mentoring two students for the past four years and also is the district office Wellness Coordinator. She has volunteered her time to run exercise and weight loss programs for district employees and is active with fundraising projects for the district’s ASSIST program and The Shriner’s Hospital for Children.

Testasecca’s name and information packet has been forwarded to the Florida Department of Education as SJCSD’s representative and for consideration as the SREY representative at the state level.

Naming of New K-8 Schools “KK” and “LL”

The St. Johns County School Board approved the name Palm Valley Academy for the school previously known as K-8 “KK” and Freedom Crossing Academy for the school formerly known as K-8 “LL” at its School Board meeting held today. During community meetings held recently, Principals Jessica Richardson and Allen Anderson, respectively, collected input from the public and provided the suggested names to school board members during their workshop held March 6.

The two additional schools are under construction in the fastest growing areas of the county and are scheduled to open for the 2018-2019 school year.  The new schools will relieve overcrowding for kindergarten through eighth grades in northern St. Johns County.

Palm Valley Academy is located in Nocatee at 2135 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra, Florida 32081 and Freedom Crossing Academy is in Aberdeen located at 1365 Shetland Drive, Saint Johns, Florida 32259.

Both of the new schools include high-quality learning areas that feature movable walls between two classroom teams as well as extended learning areas for collaboration opportunities. Each facility includes state-of-the-art technology and excellent core facilities with a media center, cafetorium, playgrounds and physical education fields.

The design used for both K-8 schools is a modification of Patriot Oaks and Valley Ridge academies with the addition of a third floor that will house eight classrooms, three science labs, ESE classrooms, a technology lab, business lab, skills lab and a resource room. The planned capacity for these two schools is approximately 1,490 students per school.

Early Registration

The St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) will hold early registration for children entering kindergarten for the 2018-2019 school year.

Date Time Date Time
Tuesday, March 13 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 4 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday, March 20 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 11 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

To be eligible for public kindergarten in the SJCSD, children must be 5 years old on or before September 1 and must reside in St. Johns County.

Parents must register children at the school where they are zoned for the 2018-2019 school year. To find your school, enter your street address on the Attendance Zone Locator at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/zoning/. Students zoned for the new K – 8 School “KK” will need to register at Allen D. Nease High School, located at 10550 Ray Rd., Ponte Vedra and students zoned for the new K- 8 School “LL” will need to register at the Aberdeen Community Center, located at 110 Flower of Scotland Ave., St. Johns.

For additional information on registration and zoning, visit www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/student/enrollment/ or contact the Student Services Department at 547-7598.

Requirements for registration:

  • Birth certificate/Guardianship Documents
  • Documentation of a health examination performed on or after August 11, 2017
  • Proof of completed required immunizations on Form DH680
  • Proof of residence per the Residency and Guardianship Policy located at stjohns.k12.fl.us/student/residency/

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Teacher of the Year Finalists 2017-2018

Superintendent Tim Forson, along with School Board Chair Bill Mignon and School Board Member Bev Slough, as well as school district staff and representatives from INK!, The Players, Beaver Toyota and Carlyle paid a surprise visit to the Teacher of the Year finalists at their schools. This year, the finalists were also treated to a visit from a very special guest, Bucky the Beaver. The finalists are Amy Grimm from Julington Creek Elementary School (JCES); Kathleen Hunting from Osceola Elementary School (OES); Jonathan Higgins from Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS); and Chassity Johnson from Sebastian Middle School (SMS).

Amy Grimm is a first-grade teacher at JCES and a mentor to other teachers who considers it her responsibility to model being a leader to her students. She believes in developing and supporting the whole child and takes a thematic approach in her classroom. It is not uncommon for her to also be seen at her students’ extracurricular activities supporting and cheering them on. She has 22 years of teaching experience all within the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD). Her message to fellow teachers is that what they do matters and they are loved, capable and important each and every day.

Kathleen Hunting teaches second grade at OES and is a school wide leader in technology who loves sharing what she learns with her students and colleagues. She is continually inspired by her students and has the privilege of seeing them grow emotionally and academically each day. At OES, she has served as a Girls on the Run coach for the past six years to help third through fifth grade girls be positive and become strong, independent leaders. She has six years of teaching experience all within the SJCSD. Her message to students is that the only reason she exists in the school setting is to provide a safe and nurturing academic environment for them.

Jonathan Higgins is an IB Psychology teacher for 11th and 12th grade students and was instrumental in creating the IB program at PMHS. Student and parent praise are what drives him as an educator and reminds him that doing what is in his heart is far more important than a numerical score. He has nine years of teaching experience all in the SJCSD.  His message to others is to focus on the aspirations of each student, regardless of his/her academic ability and that all students should be afforded the opportunity to participate in advanced courses or various programs of study if they desire regardless of their skills and abilities.

Chassity Johnson is an eighth grade pre-algebra and geometry teacher at SMS who also participates in the student intern program St. Augustine High School’s Teaching Academy each year affording her the opportunity to welcome many former students into her classroom in a different role. She realizes that many of her students may have unfavorable situations outside of school and she is inspired to be the constant figure in their lives. She has 14 years of teaching experience, 10 of which have been in the SJCSD. Her message to other teachers is best relayed in a quote from Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

The annual Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year Celebration is produced by the INK! to recognize excellence in the teaching profession. For more information on INK visit https://ink-stjohns.org/.

Principal Appointments for Ocean Palms Elementary School and Palencia Elementary School

December 18, 2017

Tiffany Cantwell, assistant principal at The Webster School, has been selected by Superintendent Tim Forson to be the principal of Ocean Palms Elementary. She will replace Jessica Richardson who was approved by the school board earlier this month as the principal of K-8 school “KK” currently being constructed at 2135 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra, 32095. Her nomination will be presented to the school board at their January 9 meeting.

Catherine (Peralta) Goodrich, assistant principal at Palencia Elementary School (PES), has been selected by Superintendent Forson to be the principal of PES. She will replace Allen Anderson who was approved earlier this month as the principal of K-8 school “LL” currently being constructed at 1365 Shetland Drive, St. Johns, 32259. Her nomination will be presented to the school board at their January 9 meeting.

Cantwell is currently serving the district as its Outstanding Assistant Principal for the 2017-2018 school year. She has over 16 years of educational experience joining the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) in 2001 as a fourth-grade teacher at Cunningham Creek Elementary. She went on to teach at PVPV/Rawlings Elementary and became the curriculum resource coordinator there. In 2013, she was appointed as assistant principal at The Webster School.

“Tiffany is extremely dedicated to her staff and students, and I have no doubt this will transfer to her new OPES family,” said Forson. “She knows the community and already has many established relationships with families and students.”

As an assistant principal, Cantwell has developed and guided a team to review and create a standards-based grading policy and served as a mentor to other assistant principals. Her love of professional development has spurred her to form a leadership cadre, perform technology demonstrations and create professional learning communities for paraprofessionals and new teachers.

“OPES has an outstanding reputation, and I am proud to join such a devoted staff and committed community,” said Cantwell. “Along with the exceptional teachers and staff, I will strive to continue the legacy of success established at OPES by building strong relationships with parents, students and community partners.”

Cantwell holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Thomas University in Miami and a master’s degree from the University of North Florida.
Goodrich started her educational teaching career over 25 years ago. She joined the SJCSD in 2005 as a second-grade teacher at Timberlin Creek Elementary. She served as the instructional literacy coach there before becoming its assistant principal in 2010. In 2013 she was named the assistant principal at Osceola Elementary and served there for two years before joining the SJCSD Human Resources Department as the employee evaluation coordinator. In 2016 she became the assistant principal at PES.

“Catherine is an exceptional leader and will provide a seamless transition for the Palencia Pirates,” said Forson. “She has already garnered the unwavering commitment and support from parents and the community, and I know this will continue in her new role.”

Her passion is helping others to develop their full potential to best serve the students of St. Johns County, and her experiences have included the opportunity to train, coach, observe and evaluate employees. She has also served students in the areas of developing math curriculum mapping at the district level and as a mentor to both elementary and high school age children.
“I am beyond humbled to be chosen as Palencia Elementary School’s educational leader,” said Goodrich. “Our school is overflowing with a brilliant combination of individuals: bright-eyed children and dynamic staff willing to do whatever it takes to ensure our students are safe, well cared for and are achieving at high levels.”
Goodrich holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and a master’s degree from the University of North Florida.
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Principal Appointment for K-8 School “LL”

Allen Anderson, principal at Palencia Elementary School (PES), has been selected by Superintendent Tim Forson to be the principal of K-8 school “LL” currently being constructed at 1365 Shetland Drive, St. Johns, 32259. His nomination will be presented to the School Board at their December 12 meeting.

“Allen is an innovative and collaborative leader,” said Forson. “I know that his familiarity with the community and ability to build rapport with students and parents will serve him well.”

Anderson has been the principal of PES since the 2013-2014 school year and has more than 20 years of experience within the SJCSD. Prior to PES he served as principal at Cunningham Creek Elementary (CCES), assistant principal at Mill Creek Elementary and Durbin Creek Elementary schools, a curriculum coordinator at Switzerland Point Middle School and a teacher at CCES.

PES has expanded its digital instruction and student use under Anderson’s leadership. He has made maintaining a positive school culture a high priority and ensures that state and district mandates are communicated in a way that supports the school’s mission and vision. He is extremely supportive of his staff and always lauds their successes, even when they won’t.

“I am very thankful for the trust and confidence from Superintendent Forson,” said Anderson. “While changing schools is always a bittersweet experience, I look forward to once again serving those in the Northwest part of our wonderful county.”

Anderson was recently chosen as the 2017-2018 Principal of the Year for St. Johns County. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of North Florida and a master’s degree from Jacksonville University.

Forson will gather input from staff and the community for the new principal of PES on Thursday, Dec. 7 at 3:30 p.m. at PES.

Principal Appointment for K-8 School “KK”

Jessica Richardson, principal at Ocean Palms Elementary School (OPES), has been selected by Superintendent Tim Forson to be the principal of K-8 school “KK” currently being constructed at 2135 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra, 32095. Her nomination will be presented to the school board at their December 12 meeting.

“Jessica has an innate ability to develop strong and lasting connections with students, staff, families and community members,” said Forson. “She is the perfect candidate to provide a smooth transition to the new school.”

Richardson started her teaching career in St. Johns County 18 years ago and joined Ocean Palms as principal in 2014. Prior to this she served as the assistant principal at Cunningham Creek Elementary. She also taught second, third and fourth grade and served as an instructional literacy coach. Before joining CCES she worked at PVPV/Rawlings Elementary School and Ocean Palms Elementary School, where she held her first position with the district as a third grade teacher.

Meeting the social, emotional and academic needs of each student, every day is paramount to Richardson. Creating and cultivating a school environment where students can find personal success and embark on educational experiences that will shape their future is a priority of her service-oriented leadership model.

“I am very enthusiastic about continuing my professional journey alongside the students, staff, and families in Northeast St. Johns County,” said Richardson.

Richardson was named St. Johns County Assistant Principal of the Year in 2013. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida and a master’s degree from Grand Canyon University.

Forson will gather input from staff and the community for the new principal of OPES on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. at OPES.

2018 Graduation Schedule

The St. Johns County School District announces the schedule of 2018 graduation ceremonies for St. Johns County high schools and First Coast Technical College (FCTC).

Thursday, January 25
5 p.m. First Coast Technical College FCTC Campus, Bldg. C
Tuesday, May 15
 4:30 p.m.  St. Johns Virtual School District Administrative Building Auditorium
Wednesday, May 16
 7 p.m.  St. Johns Technical High School St. Augustine High School Auditorium
Thursday, May 17
 7 p.m.  Pedro Menendez High School St. Augustine Amphitheatre (SAA)
Saturday, May 19
 9 a.m.  Creekside High School University of North Florida (UNF)
 1 p.m.  Ponte Vedra High School UNF
Monday, May 21
 7 p.m. Allen D. Nease High School UNF
Tuesday, May 22
 7 p.m. Bartram Trail High School UNF
Wednesday, May 23
7 p.m.  St. Augustine High School SAA
Friday, May 25
4 p.m. First Coast Technical College FCTC Campus, Bldg. C

 

 

Proposed Calendars 2019-2022

The St. Johns County School District is seeking comments on the proposed 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022 school calendars.

Survey links are now available on the school district website for community members to provide input on the calendars. The survey links can be accessed at http://www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/calendar/proposed/ or on the school district’s home page. Individuals are encouraged to submit any ideas, suggestions or concerns about the proposed calendars.

Feedback will be collected through Friday, October 27.

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

Final Town Hall Meeting September 25

The final Town Hall meeting to discuss Attendance Zoning changes for the two new K-8 Schools will be held Monday, September 25 at 6 p.m. at First Coast Technical College, Character Counts Conference Center/Building C, located at 2890 Collins Ave., St. Augustine, FL 32084. These K-8 Schools are currently under construction and opening for the 2018-2019 school year. K-8 School KK is located at 2135 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra, FL, 32081 and is being constructed using monies from the school impact fees, school proportionate share mitigation fees and the half-cent sales tax passed in November 2015. K-8 School LL is located at 1365 Shetland Drive, Saint Johns, FL, 32259 and is being constructed using monies from half-cent sales tax. Other possible attendance zone changes relate to Heritage Park located off of Woodlawn Road and the Sawmill Lakes development located off of SR 207, both in St. Augustine.

A revised zoning plan for Northwest St. Johns County students is posted here www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/zoning/

There will be an opportunity for the public to provide comment. School Board members and district staff will be in attendance.

At this time, the proposals impact the current attendance zones and students at Cunningham Creek Elementary, Durbin Creek Elementary, Fruit Cove Middle School, Alice B. Landrum Middle School, Otis A. Mason Elementary School, R.J. Murray Middle School, Ocean Palms Elementary, Palencia Elementary School, Pacetti Bay Middle School, Patriot Oaks Academy, Sebastian Middle School, Switzerland Point Middle School and Valley Ridge Academy.

This meeting takes the place of the meeting originally scheduled for September 14 but canceled due to Hurricane Irma.

Town Hall Meetings

Three Town Hall meetings have been scheduled to discuss potential Attendance Zoning changes for the two new K-8 Schools currently under construction and opening for the 2018-2019 School Year. K-8 School KK is located at 2135 Palm Valley Road, Ponte Vedra, FL, 32081 and is being constructed using monies from the school impact fees, school proportionate share mitigation fees and the half-cent sales tax passed in November 2015. K-8 School LL is located at 1365 Shetland Drive, St. Johns, FL, 32259 and is being constructed using monies from half-cent sales tax. Other possible attendance zone changes relate to Heritage Park located off of Woodlawn Road and the Sawmill Landing development located off of SR 207, both in St. Augustine.

The meetings will take place as follows:

  • Tuesday, September 5 at 6 p.m. at Creekside High School, located at 100 Knights Lane, St. Johns, FL 32259
  • Thursday, September 7 at 6 p.m. at Valley Ridge Academy, located at 105 Greenleaf Drive, Ponte Vedra, FL 32081
  • Thursday, September 14 at 6 p.m. at First Coast Technical College, Building C, located at 2980 Collins Avenue, St. Augustine, FL 32084This town hall was rescheduled due to Hurricane Irma
  • Monday, September 25 at 6 p.m. at First Coast Technical College, Building C, located at 2980 Collins Avenue, St. Augustine, FL 32084

The same information will be discussed at all three meetings. School Board members and district staff will be in attendance and there will be opportunities for public comment.

Proposals are currently being developed and could impact attendance zones and students at Cunningham Creek Elementary, Durbin Creek Elementary, Fruit Cove Middle School, Alice B. Landrum Middle School, Otis A. Mason Elementary School, R.J. Murray Middle School, Ocean Palms Elementary, Palencia Elementary School, Pacetti Bay Middle School, Patriot Oaks Academy, Sebastian Middle School, Switzerland Point Middle School and Valley Ridge Academy.