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May 2015

2015-2016 Bus Routes

The St. Johns County School District’s (SJCSD) bus routes for the 2015-2016 school year were approved by the School Board at their May 12 meeting.

The routes are 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.

“By providing this information prior to the end of school, parents and caregivers are better able to plan and prepare,” said SJCSD Director of Transportation Joe Purvis.

In mid-July, postcards will be sent home to the parents of all potential bus riders giving them the bus stop, times and bus number for their students.

The Transportation Department will operate 175 bus routes and transport approximately 60 percent of the district’s students twice a day when school starts on Monday, August 10. For additional questions or information, call the Transportation Department at 547-7810.


New Principal Selection for Julington Creek Elementary


Allison Olson, principal of Bear Canyon Elementary in Highlands Ranch, CO, has been selected by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner to be the principal of Julington Creek Elementary (JCE).  Her nomination was presented to the St. Johns County School Board at their May 12 meeting.

Olson will replace Michael Story, who is retiring at the end of this school year after 10 years with the St. Johns County School District.

“Ms. Olson is a strong instructional leader who is focused on building relationships with the staff and community,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner.  “After carefully reviewing the profile developed by the Julington Creek family, it was very clear to me that she is a perfect match for the school.”

Olson has more than 27 years in education in Salt Lake City, UT; Spring Valley, CA Stafford, VA; and several areas in CO. Throughout her career she has served as a teacher at both the elementary and middle school levels; an assistant principal and a principal. Under her leadership at Bear Canyon Elementary the school was the recipient of the John Irwin Award for Academic Excellence and the Governor’s Distinguished Award for Student Growth, both for three consecutive years.

“I am honored and excited to be joining the St. Johns County School District family and to serve at Julington Creek Elementary as its next principal,” said Allison Olson. “JCE has awesome kids, a strong faculty and a supportive community. I look forward to continuing the goal of excellence that has been so well established, go Jaguars!”

With a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, Olson also holds a master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.


SAHS Academy of Future Teachers Students Honored

Students from the Academy of Future Teachers at St. Augustine High School recently attended the Florida Future Educators Association (FFEA) conference in Orlando and returned home as the first place winners. This is the fifth year in a row that students from this academy have received this honor.

“I am extremely proud of Riley, Abby and Esther,” said St. Augustine High School Principal Cathy Mittelstadt. “The FFEA conference provides a wonderful opportunity to highlight their efforts within our Academy of Future Teachers.”

Career academy students had the opportunity to attend informational workshops, but they also competed against 38 other schools in six categories: Speech, Essay, Public Service Announcement (PSA), PowerPoint, Lesson Plan, and Chapter Display. Out of these six categories, three sophomores from the Teaching Academy received first place awards.

Riley O’Neal won first place in the speech competition with her speech about an elementary yoga instructor. With an essay about several teachers who have inspired her over the years, Abby Burns received first place for the essay competition. For the second year in a row, Esther Pielstick won first place in the Public Service Announcement competition.

The conference is identical to a teacher workshop featuring instructional breakout sessions and inspiring keynote speakers. This year’s keynote speaker was former teacher and author, Sharon Draper, who is popular for her young adult novels including Copper Sun and Tears of a Tiger.

New Principal and Personnel Appointments

Several personnel changes and appointments took place within the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) last week. Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner has named these appointments which will become effective July 1, pending School Board approval.

“I look forward to working with the following group of talented individuals,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “Their varied experience and skillset will serve them extremely well in their new positions. They all possess great character and leadership qualities to take on these new challenges, and their integrity and passion to serve our students will benefit the district greatly. I could not be more pleased with these new principals, district administrators and leadership changes.”

Nigel Pillay, an assistant principal at Pedro Menendez High School, has been named the new principal of Otis A. Mason Elementary School (OMES). Pillay was selected as the SJCSD’s 2014-2015 Assistant Principal of the Year and was also named as a finalist for the state. He has over 14 years of combined educational experience in St. Johns and Seminole counties, serving as a classroom teacher, instructional coach and an assistant principal. Pillay holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida (UCF) and 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.

Pillay will replace OMES Principal Kim Dixon who will assume the position of director of Instructional Resources and Media Services. In her new role, she will oversee textbooks, instructional technology, media specialists and school library needs plus continue facilitating digital instructional delivery in schools. Dixon previously served as an assistant principal at R.J. Murray Middle School and was selected as the 2002-2003 SJCSD Teacher of the Year when she taught at Hastings Elementary School. She has been the principal at OMES since 2011. A graduate of Bethune-Cookman College, Dixon holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida.

Traci Hemingway, assistant principal at Pacetti Bay Middle School, has been named the new principal of Timberlin Creek Elementary (TCES). Hemingway has been with the SJCSD for over two years and has more than 15 years of experience spent in Fairfax County, VA; Pasco County, FL; Fulton County, GA and St. Tammany Parish, LA. She began her career as a teacher and has also served as a literacy coach, reading specialist, curriculum coordinator and an assistant principal. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Kennesaw State University in GA, and a master’s degree in Reading and a certificate in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida.

Hemmingway replaces TCES Principal Christine Stephan who will join district administration as the director of Elementary Education. Stephan previously served as principal of Northpoint Elementary School in Granger, IN, and has worked in education for more than 25 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. She has been the principal of TCES since 2012. Stephan holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana State University, and a master’s degree from Ball State University.

Randy Kelley, director of Professional Development, has been named the new principal of South Woods Elementary School. Kelley previously served as principal at OMES and Liberty Pines Academy and has more than 25 years in education. Before joining St. Johns County, he had nine years of experience as an administrator in Florida, including serving as an assistant principal at four different elementary schools. He spent five years as principal of Zellwood Elementary School in Orange County and also has prior experience as a middle and high school teacher.

Kelley replaces Cathy Hutchins who will join the district office as the new associate superintendent for Human Resources. Hutchins has been employed in the educational field since 1982. She opened TCES and previously served as assistant principal and principal at Cunningham Creek Elementary School (CCES). In addition, she spent eight years teaching elementary school as well as six years as the facilitator of a Florida Model Technology School. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Nazareth College and two master’s degrees, one from SUNY of Geneseo and the other from the University of North Florida.

Hutchins replaces Brennan Asplen, who has been selected as the deputy superintendent for Academic and Student Services. Asplen replaces Martha Mickler who will move into the newly added position of assistant superintendent at the same time.

Asplen has over 26 years of experience in education and has served as a teacher, coach and administrator including principal of Bartram Trail High School for five years. He started his career in 1988 as a middle school math teacher and six years later was promoted to dean of students at Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs. In 1995 Asplen was transferred to Jackson Heights Middle School as assistant principal and then spent the next five years as assistant principal at two different high schools. In 2001 he was named principal of his former middle school and three years later transferred to Millennium Middle School in Sanford to serve as its principal. Asplen holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Central Florida and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

During her tenure at the SJCSD, Mickler opened CCES and served as its principal for six years. While there she received the Commissioner of Education’s Outstanding Elementary Principal Achievement Award for Region II. Prior to her service at CCES, Mickler served as principal of Julington Creek Elementary School for three years. She also was an assistant principal in Putnam and St. Johns counties and Columbia, South Carolina for seven years, a classroom teacher for 12 years and a preschool/kindergarten director for two years. In 2001 she was named assistant superintendent for curriculum and learning. Mickler retired in 2009 after 38 years in education, but returned in 2011 to resume her post after Pam Stewart left to join the Florida Department of Education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Welfare and Elementary Education from Florida State University and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Florida.


SJEA Negotiated Agreement 2014-2017

Negotiators for the St. Johns Education Association (SJEA) and the St. Johns County School Board have reached a tentative agreement on their 2014-2017 contract for the district’s teachers. Highlights from this three year contract include:

  • Performance pay salary structure
  • New hire placement salary schedule
  • Compliance with new statutory requirements related to contract structure, reduction in personnel, and salary increases
  • Improved clarity of language related to health insurance premiums
  • For 2014-2015, $1,000 salary adjustment for eligible instructional personnel (those current teachers that received an effective or highly effective evaluation for 2013-2014)

“Leadership of the SJEA is to be commended for their work and cooperative efforts,” said Tim Forson, deputy superintendent for Operations and chief negotiator for the school district. “Benefiting its members while recognizing the priority of students and understanding the conditions pertaining to funding and managing the district were paramount. Both parties worked diligently to review the entire professional employee contract so that it met the requirements of the law and resulted in the best contract for employees and the district.”

“I am pleased with the tentative agreement for our 2014-2017 contract,” said Michelle Dillon, SJEA president. “The district and the union worked for over a year to create a contract that benefits our dedicated teachers in St. Johns County. I appreciate all the hard work of both bargaining teams.”

Following ratification, the tentative agreement will be presented to the School Board for acceptance.

SJEA is the recognized bargaining agent for the approximately 2,200 instructional personnel in the school district including teachers, media specialists, guidance counselors, deans and psychologists.