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November 2014

Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year

Cathy Mittelstadt, principal of St. Augustine High School (SAHS), has been selected as the St. Johns County School District’s (SJCSD) nominee for the 2014-2015 Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership.

Nigel Pillay, assistant principal at Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS), was chosen as the district’s nominee for the 2014-2015 Outstanding Assistant Principal Achievement Award.

These programs honor principals and assistant principals who utilize teamwork and leadership skills to increase student performance, establish partnerships with parents and community members, and promote safe learning environments.

Awardees are also recognized for ethical leadership and their use of innovative technology as well as their commitment to forging personal, social, economic, and cultural relationships in the classroom, the school and the community to build and support a learning organization focused on student success.

Mittelstadt has been the principal of SAHS since 2009. Prior to this she served as principal at R.J. Murray Middle School and as the assistant principal at PMHS. She began her career in Apopka High School in 1993.

Under Mittelstadt’s leadership, SAHS has expanded programs, activities and events for students with disabilities. She has also led and encouraged a change in the culture and climate of the school which possesses a varied population of students both in academics and extracurricular activities. She has focused on mentoring and tutoring to meet students’ needs individually and has successfully implemented the freshmen transition/leadership program Link Crew this year. Student proficiency on statewide end-of-course exams continues to grow while much success has been realized in learning gains of students in the lowest 25 percent for reading.

“Cathy is a fine example of outstanding leadership,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “Her motto that ‘Every Day Counts’ is evident in the effort and focus she and her staff put into each and every student. The respect and leadership of students at SAHS is a direct result of Cathy’s motivation, encouragement and support she provides to her school community. I remain in awe of her ability to develop and foster relationships with her students and to know their stories. I am proud and honored to work with her.”

Mittelstadt holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, a master’s degree from the University of Central Florida and an Educational Specialist degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Outstanding Assistant Principal Nominee Nigel Pillay has over 13 years of combined educational experience in St. Johns and Seminole Counties, serving as a classroom teacher, instructional coach and an assistant principal. He began as a math teacher at Millennium Middle School in Sanford and went on to serve as a mathematics specialist at Lake Orienta Elementary School in Altamonte Springs as well as an assistant principal at the middle and high school level.

Pillay has been employed in his present position at PMHS since he joined the SJCSD in 2012. While at PMHS, he has been instrumental in developing a discipline matrix which has resulted in a 41 percent decrease in Out-of-School Suspensions. He has also implemented a “Know Your Audience” program to identify students with needs in particular areas. Teachers of these students were able to collaborate on a regular basis to track progress of their identified students and share best practices with one another.

“Nigel has taken initiative in many areas including volunteering to be chair of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Steering Committee without even knowing what this position would entail,” said Joyner. “His willingness to tackle challenges at PMHS in an effort to make things better and more efficient is amazing.”

Pillay holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida (UCF), a master’s degree from Nova Southeastern University. He also has a graduate certificate in Urban Education from UCF and is currently working on his doctorate degree at UCF.

These two St. Johns County nominations have been forwarded to the state where the nominees will compete at the regional level. The statewide winner in each category will be announced later this year.

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