Katherine Keller Batenhorst and James E. Browning were honored as the recipients of the 2014 Learning Legacy Lifetime Achievement Awards. These awards are presented annually to former St. Johns County public school students who have returned to the area and dedicated their time and talents to serving their community. A presentation was made to Batenhorst and Browning by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner on Friday, September 5 prior to kickoff at the football game between St. Augustine and Pedro Menendez high schools.
Batenhorst was born and raised in St. Augustine. She attended Fullerwood and Evelyn Hamblen Elementary schools, R.J Murray Middle School and graduated from St. Augustine High School (SAHS) in 1991. While at SAHS, Katherine was a member of the Beta Club and National Honor Society and was a four-year letterman in swimming, competing in the State Championships each of those years. She received the “Top Jacket” Award her senior year.
She then attended Delta State University (DSU) in Cleveland, Mississippi on academic/athletic scholarships and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. At DSU, she was voted into the Student Hall of Fame by faculty and staff and received the Charles S. Kerg Senior Student-Athlete Award. Batenhorst was inducted into the DSU Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. She continued her education at the University of Alabama, graduating with a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology.
Following graduate school, Batenhorst moved back to St. Augustine. She has worked as a speech-language pathologist, with children and adults, for the past 16 years and recently completed a multidisciplinary residency in Gerontology.
She is very involved in the community serving as a board member or in a leadership role for various organizations including Flagler Healthcare Foundation, TAG! Children’s Museum of St. Augustine, Junior Service League of St. Augustine, St. Augustine Rotary Club, St. Johns County Community Leadership Council, St. Augustine Humane Society and Community Hospice of Northeast Florida St. Johns Advisory Council. Katherine is also a recipient of the Enterprising Women’s Leadership Institute’s Volunteer Award.
Katherine is married to Todd Batenhorst, MD and is the daughter of Paul and Marguerite Keller, both of whom are retired educators.
A native of St. Augustine, James “Jim” Browning graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1971. He then went on to graduate from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture.
For the past 30 years he has been an active contributor in his community accepting leadership roles in numerous civic activities. Over the past three years Browning has served as chairman of The Governor’s Reception at The Players, an idea developed by Browning and The Players executive director. As chairman of the Committee of 100, Browning successfully negotiated the transaction for St. Johns County to move the international headquarters of the Men’s Professional Tennis (ATP TOUR) to Ponte Vedra Beach.
On the regional level, Browning was appointed by Governor Robert Martinez, to be the citizens’ representative for St. Johns County on the Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council in 1988. Browning was also elected as State Committeeman for the Republican Party of St. Johns County 1988-1992 and stays in active contact with local, state and national elected officials. He served two terms as Florida 4-H Foundation president and was state co-chair for the Florida National 4-H Centennial Celebration in August of 2002. He is a charter member of the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame.
Presently, Browning is immediate past chairman of the St. Johns County Industrial Development Authority. He is past president of The Blood Bank of St. Johns, Epic Community Services, St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, Committee of 100, St. Johns County Economic Development Council and is a member of the Ponte Vedra Rotary Club. This year, the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners declared March 2014 James E. Browning Month.
Browning is president of The Browning Agency of Ponte Vedra, Inc., and The Browning Agency of Hastings, Inc. both full-service independent agencies representing leading insurance companies and many high profile commercial and personal insurance clients. Browning resides with his wife, Cecily, in Ponte Vedra Beach.
Past recipients of the Learning Legacy Lifetime Achievement Award are former Superintendent of Schools Otis Mason, the late Judge Richard Watson, former Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS) Principal and School Board Chair Bill Mignon, Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind teacher-coach Hank White, the late Sheriff Neil Perry, former basketball coach Doris Blackshear, former Representative Doug Wiles, former PMHS football coach Dwaine Fisher, School Board Member Tommy Allen, St. Johns Technical High School Principal Cynthia Williams, Deputy Superintendent for Academic Services Martha Mickler, CPA Brad Davis, former SAHS Principal Tyrone Ramsey, former Chamber of Commerce President Robin Burchfield, retired Barnett Bank President Bill Young, former St. Johns County Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Nancy Birchall, Nease High School Dean of Students Kelvin “Bernie” Blue, SAHS Yellow Jackets broadcaster Barry Kass, author and board of trustees member for the St. Augustine Historical Society Beth Rogero Bowen, former Alternative Schools Teacher of the Year Rocky Merrill, retired banking executive John W. Daniels, Terrell Hogan attorney Wayne Hogan, Judge Clyde Wolfe, retired SAHS teacher Hattie Jenkins, former-Mayor Len Weeks and retired Director of Risk Management Carol Holtz.
All recipients’ names are inscribed on a perpetual plaque that hangs outside the Superintendent’s Office.
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