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.