Barbara McClain and Smiley Sturgis were honored as the recipients of the 2015 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 McClain and Sturgis by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner and School Board Members Kelly Barrera and Bill Mignon on Friday, October 23 prior to kickoff at the football game between Pedro Menendez and Ridgeview high schools.
McClain was born in Boston, Massachusetts on St. Patrick’s Day in 1954. She moved with her mother back to Hastings in 1954 where she attended Walter E. Harris High from first-12th grade. She was raised in Hastings by her aunt and uncle, Lucy and Nathaniel Carter. Her aunt was a teacher in St. Johns County for 42 years, and McClain grew up watching her write lesson plans and eventually started helping her grade papers.
In seventh grade, McClain started playing basketball on the girls varsity team. Barbara also played volleyball and softball through high school though her passion was always basketball.
After graduating from high school third in her class, she went on to attend Bethune-Cookman College from 1970 to 1974, and received a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Florida in 1988. Her career in St. Johns County started at Hastings Elementary where she taught reading. She then worked in Student Services for 17 years.
Following her desire to be a guidance counselor, she started at the Gaines Alternative Center where she had the opportunity to get to know her students and help them to set positive goals. In her last three years, she joined Fruit Cove Middle School as a seventh and eighth grade counselor. McClain considered these the years the best of her career because she felt she was working with the greatest staff of teachers she had ever met. After retiring in 2011, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and is a breast cancer survivor.
She is very involved with Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church and serves as the Administrative Assistant. She directs the youth choir and sings in the adult choir there as well. She also lends her voice to the Hastings Community Choir.
McClain has one son, Bryan Nathaniel Moore, and has been married to her husband, Kenneth McClain Sr., for two years.
A native of St. Augustine, Sturgis graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1972. He went on to graduate from St. Johns River Community College in 1974, Flagler College in 1976 and Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979 with a Masters of Divinity degree. After an internship at Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, Florida in 1979, he planted and served as pastor for West Boca Presbyterian Church for 10 years. In 1991 he moved to St. Augustine and planted Good News Church where he has served as senior pastor for 24 years.
Sturgis has been married to his wife, Karen, for 34 years and they have six children; Lydia, Luke, Nathan, Caleb, Mark and Mary and one granddaughter, Ava. Three of Smiley’s children graduated from St. Augustine High School, five graduated from college, one has a master’s degree and one has a doctorate degree. All six of his children played sports for St. Johns County schools, with five of them playing in college and two playing professionally.
Smiley and his family have made a big impact on St. Augustine and St. Johns County through their ministry and serving the community. They provide services to all ages including children, high school and college students.
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 Member 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, Assistant Superintendent 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, Allen D. 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, the late retired SAHS teacher Hattie Jenkins, former-Mayor Len Weeks, retired Director of Risk Management Carol Holtz, Speech-Language Pathologist Katherine Batenhorst and president of The Browning Agency of Ponte Vedra, Inc. Jim Browning.
All recipients’ names are inscribed on a perpetual plaque that hangs outside the Superintendent’s Office.