Northport sixth graders analyze primary and secondary sources

Northport sixth graders analyze primary and secondary sources

Northport K-8 School sixth graders in Georgia Stone’s World History class are preparing to delve into yearly History Fair projects with an excellent lesson in the school’s media center. Students logged on to the National History Day website at and utilized the “Conducting Research” bar. Students read all about primary and secondary sources and learned how to be a responsible researcher then answered two focus questions. Students also rotated to a center in the media center that offered scenarios and students, under the direction of Mrs. Stone, interpreted primary or secondary sources.

The History Fair topic this year is “Rights and Responsibilities. ” This is a broad topic that allows students to choose their own interests and explore the topic using a variety of primary and secondary resources. Chosen topics should place the project into historical perpective, examine its significance in history and show development over time. Students must use primary and secondary sources, analyze evidence and provide a clear explanation of the relationship of the topic to the theme.

Some examples of student expressions of interest at Northport K-8 School have been Womens Suffrage, A City Divided: The Berlin Wall, The Birth of the Declaration of Independence, Trail of Tears, Salem Witch Trials and The Power of the Press. Georgia Stone’s Historian Center in the school’s media center provided an excellent opportunity to target skills developing Informational Text and Research.  Pictured are Mrs. Stone and from far side, Cheyenne Jones and Cassandra Andrade.

Southport Middle School- “Odyssey of the Mind team looking for new members”

Southport Middle School- “Odyssey of the Mind team looking for new members”

The Southport Middle School Odyssey of the Mind Team attended the State Competition at the University of Central Florida in April of last school year after placing first in the Regional Competition.  As members have graduated on to high school, the coaches are looking for new members for the coming school year.  For more information/application, please contact Chris Cook or Joey Cueto at Southport Middle School.  Pictured here: Front row from left: Titus Sirin, Jean Fede, Quinn Tucker, Oxaqn Fede.  Back Row from left: Hanna Spurr, Alyssa Hoce

Northport read 180 program students offered vital support

Northport read 180 program students offered vital support

Northport K-8 school middle grades students who are struggling to achieve target points for College and Career Anchor Standards for Reading are given the opportunity to build a foundation in reading skills using a broad range of high quality text and programming.

One of the programs utilized at the school is the READ 180 program. The program is a curriculum based, focused reading program designed to ensure that students are progressing toward grade level essentials. It offers computer based, individualized instruction tailored to student needs. The program encourages independent reading for pleasure through its lexiled library as well as regularly scheduled trips to the school’s media center to experience a supportive and diverse atmosphere.

In the media center, students are guided towards topics of interest and pertinent information to help each experience progress and achievement in the regular education classroom.

Pictured are students from Sandra Tyndale’s sixth grade READ 180 class making their exciting first book selections of the year!

JROTC Cadet Leadership Camp

JROTC Cadet Leadership Camp

Cadets of the Port Saint Lucie High School Jaguar Battalion participated in the annual JROTC Cadet Leadership Camp which took place at Camp Tanah Keeta in southern Martin County. Through the camp’s five days, cadets developed their leadership skills and were tested mentally and physically, conquering their fears during many events. The camp presented many challenges such as orienteering, basic survival skills, and various aquatic activities.  A few selected cadets were chosen to be a part of the camp’s Raider Platoon. Raider Platoon went above and beyond the normal training schedule. Summer Camp is always a great experience for participating cadets, which is always why they always want to go back!

Port Saint Lucie High’s JROTC Cadets

American Legion Boys’ State

American Legion Boys’ State

Every leader has to start somewhere and Boys’ State has been the starting point for many successful young students. The Boys’ State program is a summer leadership and citizenship program sponsored by the American Legion for High School students between their junior and senior years. Port Saint Lucie High Jaguar Battalion’s cadet Lieutenant Colonel William Benagh was this year’s representative. The citizens of each of these cities elect mock municipal officials and representatives to the mock state legislature. While learning about the government and politics of Florida, the cadets also get the opportunity to receive High School and College credits. Port Saint Lucie High School appreciates the continuous support of the American Legion Post 318.

Port Saint Lucie High’s William Benagh

SGA’s Amanda Hayes on CBS 12 News

SGA’s Amanda Hayes on CBS 12 News

Teachers doing final preps for new school year Story by Lauren Hills / CBS 12 News
FORT PIERCE, Fla. — It’s down to the wire for back to school and teachers are putting the final touches on their classrooms and lesson plans.

“I started spending hours putting things up and slowly moving things around,” said Amanda Hayes, a teacher at Samuel Gaines Academy in Ft. Pierce. “I have laminating projects, name tags, every little thing.”… more and watch the video at:

Press Release from Superintendent Search Consultant Jim Huge

At an emergency meeting scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21, 2013, St. Lucie County School Board members will consider a recommendation from Mr. Jim Huge, consultant for the superintendent search, to postpone the superintendent candidate interviews currently scheduled for August 29, 2013.  This action is being recommended to accommodate Board consideration of the Interim Superintendent for the position of Superintendent of Schools.

At the next regularly scheduled Board meeting set for August 27, 2013, Mr. Huge will bring forth a recommendation to suspend the current search for a new superintendent and name Genelle Zoratti Yost as Superintendent of Schools.  Mrs. Yost was not originally considered for the superintendent position because she is only eligible to serve until June of 2015.  However, Mr. Huge states that Mrs. Yost has engendered exceptional excitement and focus among the staff and community in just a few short months of her tenure as Interim Superintendent, and it is his opinion that the continued leadership of Mrs. Yost is the best option for the district at this critical time.  This appointment would also save one additional transition in the short term and would allow all to benefit from her strong leadership.  Mr. Huge will also suggest to the Board that the search for Mrs. Yost’s replacement resume in the fall of 2014 with the expectation that a new superintendent will report for duty in June of 2015.  The Board will take action on the recommendation at the August 27, 2013 meeting scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at the St. Lucie County Public Schools District Offices.

Northport K8 school prepared to address cultural diversity

Northport K8 school prepared to address cultural diversity

Northport K-8 School is preparing to address the needs of a very diverse population through a targeted and focused ESOL program.  Longtime instructor, Mary Toto along with two paraprofessionals will incorporate RTI or Response To Intervention into small group, multi-tiered learning groups.

Each student targeted as ESOL will receive direct instruction in English Language skills to quickly assimilate into the regular education classroom. Students, equipped with support from Mrs. Toto and her team, heritage language dictionaries and classroom instructors who are trained in offered ESOL support strategies will be offered every opportunity to excel and achieve quickly.

Each child’s needs are addressed through close collaboration with parents, family members, classroom teachers, school administration and outside sources. The ESOL lab and the entire school are prepared to help build solid foundations in English language learning and offer speedy and efficient assimilation into the Saint Lucie County School District culture with the greatest degree of success.

Pictured from left are Marion Morales, Mary Toto and LaShawn Floyd.

Northport k8 school offers effusive welcome

Northport k8 school offers effusive welcome

The entire Northport K-8 School community welcomed new and returning students and their families with a fabulous “Welcome to Northport!” Open House recently!

The year was kicked off with teachers and staff that have feelings of renewal and revitalization and are charged with a coordinated effort to bring the best experiences possible to their students. Many Northport students and their familes are thrilled with the K-8 concept that allows students to remain in the same school their entire middle and elementary educational years. Students that are returning are thrilled to look up their teachers and visit with familiar faces. Another exciting opportunity is the ability to move from elementary to the middle grades effortlessly. Pictured is long time Northport student Dallas Persick who has been in the school since second grade. Dallas, who is excitedly moving into the sixth grade, proudly shows off his middle grades schedule

St. Lucie County students rank number one in the nation for the Middle School Zero Robotics Challenge

St. Lucie County students rank number one in the nation for the Middle School Zero Robotics Challenge

St. Lucie County students rank number one in the nation for the Middle School Zero Robotics Challenge held on the International Space Station on Tuesday, August 13th.

Two teams of students participated in the 5-week summer program held at Southern Oaks Middle School. Kevin McInerney and Brian Jones facilitated the teams to learn about and write programs that could control satellites in space.  The participants competed with 26 other teams across the nation to win a technically challenging game by programming their strategies into a SPHERE satellite.  A series of elimination tournaments were conducted with astronauts on the International Space Station and the event was broadcast to participants who gathered at sites such as MIT in Massachusetts and Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The St. Lucie 2 Team reigned victorious. This is truly a stellar accomplishment!

Northport K8 promotes unity and student achievement

Northport K8 promotes unity and student achievement

Northport K-8 School administration, teachers and staff incorporated the St. Lucie County School Board’s theme of “Cruising To Excellence” into the overarching theme of the Northport message for the 2013-14 school year.  Faculty and staff returned to the school Media Center for introductory meetings, review of Common Core initiatives, team planning, Instructor evaluation reviews and reinforcement of positive messages. They were welcomed into the center completely decorated in a Hawaiian Islands motif complete with tiki hut and totem pole. The messages of unity with the focus on student achievement were clear and the brevity of polishing the collective Northport halo was appreciated by the entire Northport instructional and non-instructional community. The community of learners, parents and volunteers will forge ahead to honor the tremendous work accomplished by previous principals, assistant principals, instructors and thousands of students who have passed through the school doors and who are acknowledged as the bedrock of the school’s foundation.  The
excitement and positive atmosphere are pervasive and the work is just beginning. Pictured are Principal Glenn Rustay and, from left, instructors Shana Cicio, Diana Lankow, Michelle McCloskey, Rachel Ellsworth, with Chris Prusa in front.

Two additional candidates for schools superintendent to visit St. Lucie August 29

Two additional candidates for schools superintendent to visit St. Lucie August 29

Two additional candidates for Superintendent of Schools will visit St. Lucie County on August 29, search consultant Jim Huge informed the St. Lucie County School Board.

Ronald Scott Fritz, currently chief Academic Officer for the Orange County, Florida, School District, and Constance Ann Jones, currently Executive Director of School Development for the Lee County, Florida, School District, have joined the list of potential successors to Michael Lannon, who retired June 30, 2013, after a decade of service leading St. Lucie Public Schools and a 45-year career in public education. Former Deputy Superintendent Genelle Yost is the Interim Superintendent until a successor is named.

Continuing to be an active candidate from the original five finalists is Darcy Mohr, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources in the Boulder Valley School District, Boulder, Colorado. Finalists Agnella Perera, Mark Rendell and Scott Bailey have withdrawn their candidacy for personal reasons; finalist Scott Flowers was eliminated following the original round of interviews June 3-4.

Fritz and Jones will follow the same format of visits and interviews on August 29 (see schedule below) as the previous sessions in June, and will be asked the same questions as those asked of the other candidates. The Superintendent’s Search Advisory Committee (SSAC), District Advisory Committee (DAC), Community Forums and School Board interviews are open to the public.

Huge has continued to contact qualified candidates throughout the search process, which began
in March, 2013, when the St. Lucie School Board contracted with Huge to conduct an extensive search. At its May 14, 2013 board meeting, Huge recommended to the Board six finalists and one alternate applicant for interviews from an original pool of 21 applicants. School Board chairman Debbie Hawley has maintained the Board is dedicated to finding the most suitable individual as St. Lucie County’s next superintendent, rather than meeting a deadline.

Finalists’ resumes may be viewed at

Time Ronald S. Fritz Constance A. Jones
8:00 – 8:30 Meet at Central Office for Coffee- 237 Meet at Central Office for Coffee- 237
8:30 – 11:00 Tour of Schools and Community Tour of Schools and Community
11:00 – 11:15 Break- 237 Break- 237
11:15 – 12:00 Unions Interview – Supt. Conf. Rm. Executive Council Interview -407
12:00 – 12:15 Break -237 Break -237
12:15 – 1:00 Exec. Council Interview/Lunch -407 Unions Interview/Lunch – Supt. Cf. Rm.
1:00 – 1:30 Break- 237 Break -237
* 1:30 – 2:45 School Board Interview- Board Room SSAC Interview- Community Room
2:45 – 3:00 Break –237 Break -237
3:00 – 4:15 SSAC Interview – Community Room *School Board Interview – Board Room
4:15 – 5:30 Dinner -237 Dinner -237
*5:30 – 6:30 DAC Interview – Supt. Conf. Rm. Community Forum – Board Room
6:30 – 6:45 Break -237 Break -237
*6:45 – 7:45 Community Forum – Board Room *DAC Interview – Supt. Conf. Rm.

St. Lucie Public Schools prepares for new year

St. Lucie Public Schools prepares for new year

The St. Lucie County School District begins the 2013-2014 school year on Monday, August 19, expecting approximately 41,000 students in its 42 elementary, K-8, middle, high, and alternative schools, including five charter schools and Mosaic Digital Academy, a three-county virtual K-12 school operated by St. Lucie Public Schools.

Eleven school sites will have a Tunnel of Hope of adults who mentor students, welcoming children at the beginning of the first school day. This is an activity at Kids At Hope Schools, an initiative in its third year in St. Lucie Public Schools where the philosophy is that all children can succeed, no exceptions. Pictured is a student at one of the Tunnels of Hope

A new school choice for families this year is the Renaissance Charter School at Tradition, a K-6 school located in Port St. Lucie. The Garden City Early Learning Academy in Fort Pierce was closed in June, 2013, as part of the school district’s budget reduction strategies implemented to meet declining revenues, which totaled $11 million for the 2013-2014 school year.

“The entire St. Lucie County School District family is eager to begin this new school year with a renewed spirit of moving our community forward,” remarked Interim Superintendent Genelle Yost. “We anticipate continuing the work of the district and the upward trend of student achievement, with a sharp focus on providing each child, every day, the tools and skills needed to be successful, lifelong learners,” he added.

The district enters the third year of a pioneering five-year partnership between the St. Lucie County School Board and preeminent global educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). This bold, proactive partnership enhances educational resources for students, and advances teacher capacity and parenting skills through four major components: ensuring the success of the St. Lucie Parent Academy; professional development support for private and public early learning centers; a focused approach to science, technologies, engineering and mathematics curriculum and teacher preparation for grades K-8; and creating a public access internet “cloud” environment for textbook, reference and research materials to replace textbooks and backpacks with technologically based resources available equitably to all.


Information specific to each school, including locations, safe routes to school and bell times, is at Parents should be sure to check their child’s school listed on the page, and click on the link to the school’s web page.


The district’s web site,, offers easy to navigate links to a myriad of information resources. Most notable is the School Search option, which links to a map that assists parents in identifying the schools within their attendance zone as determined by the district’s open enrollment system in which parents can select from among schools close to where they live. Parents can also utilize the district’s choice system for magnet schools or those outside of their attendance zone, within specific guidelines.

Individual department web pages have detailed information for parents and students at including:
• The transportation department page, which includes links to add students to bus stops and an interactive pedestrian safety awareness program. Automated telephone calls with bus stop information will be sent to parents on Sunday, August 11 and again on Sunday, August 18. The transportation department hot line, 772.340.4849 will be activated on Monday, August 12.
• The Food Services program provides the students of St. Lucie County Public schools with nutritious, high-quality food choices to enhance their ability to learn. This page has information on how to apply for free or reduced priced meals and the prices for meals for the 2013-14 school year.


Parents are also highly encouraged to sign in to the Family Access portal, for student information such as attendance, grades, health data, and communications from their child’s school. This link is found under the Parents and Students tab at the top of the district web page at If parents do not have internet access at home they may use computers at schools, or at many other public locations such as libraries.


The district again approaches the new school year facing extreme financial challenges, with several initiatives continuing from previous years to drastically curb expenses. Additional significant cost-saving moves for 2013-14 include, among others, reducing electricity demand, continuing to refine bus routes, and trimming administrative/support staff and departmental budgets at the district-level.


Human Resources department oversees hiring of over 500 new employees

Human Resources department oversees hiring of over 500 new employees

Kudos to the St. Lucie Public Schools Human Resources Department, which has experienced another busy summer season providing excellent customer service for over 500 new hires including full-time, substitute, and summer school positions. Processing includes reviewing applications, scheduling drug screens, and completing finger printing for background screening as well as data entry of each newly hired employee into the Skyward system. Pictured is finger print specialist Lynn Louderback, right, assisting a new employee in the process.

Student Assignment department has another busy summer

Student Assignment department has another busy summer

The St. Lucie Public Schools Student Assignment department has experienced another busy summer, providing customer service to thousands of parents and students in the registration process for the new school year. Pictured is Cynthia Howard assisting a parent registering her child. Ms. Howard is a bus driver during the school year but helps during this very busy time for the department.

Title I/School Renewal hosts institute to support schools in increasing student achievement

Title I/School Renewal hosts institute to support schools in increasing student achievement

The Office of Title I/School Renewal hosted a three-day institute for teachers and administrators from nine St. Lucie schools on August 7, 8 and 9 at Samuel Gaines Academy. The institute provided the opportunity for additional guidance, support and motivation to those supporting these schools as they work together to increase student achievement. Each day there was a keynote speaker, as well as a full day’s agenda of breakout sessions for teachers and administrators. Pictured is Sam Foerster, who currently serves as the Deputy Chancellor of School Improvement and Student Achievement for the Florida Department of Education (FDOE). In this capacity, he oversees the Bureau of School Improvement, the Bureau of Federal Education Programs, the Bureau of Family and Community Outreach, the Office of Equal Education Opportunity, and Florida’s five regional offices supporting Differentiated Accountability. Prior to joining the Florida Department of Education in June, 2012, Mr. Foerster served as the Associate Superintendent of Support Services for the Putnam County School District. In that role, Mr. Foerster contributed to a number of projects related to data-driven decision making and continuous process improvement, including the development of an online teacher effectiveness dashboard and implementation of district-wide standards-based interim assessments. Mr. Foerster also served as chair of Florida’s Student Growth Implementation Committee (SGIC), the organization charged with recommending a value added model for use in teacher evaluations in Florida.

St. Lucie Public Schools food services department to hold meal application events for parents

St. Lucie Public Schools food services department to hold meal application events for parents

Fort Pierce, FL — From Monday, August 5, through Thursday, August 8, the Child Nutrition Services program of the St. Lucie County School District is hosting Open House events at various school sites for parents to complete an on-line or paper application for free and reduced meal prices prior to school starting.

Parents must complete an updated application every year, though only one application per family is required, and are encouraged to do so prior to school opening for the 2013-2014 school year August 20 so that each student will have an updated meal plan. New students to the district will be on paid status until an application is submitted and processed. Parents should bring documentation to complete the application, such as their Food Stamp case number, TANF number, SNAP number, or social security number.

For more information, please contact St. Lucie Public Schools Child Nutrition Services at 772.429.6190.
The schedule is:
• August 5, 9:00 AM-11:30 AM, Ft. Pierce Central High School, 4101 S. 25th Street, Fort Pierce
• August 5, 1:30 PM-3:30 PM, F. K. Sweet Elementary School, 1400 Avenue Q, Fort Pierce
• August 6, 9:00 AM-11:30 AM, Dan McCarty School, 1201 Mississippi Avenue, Fort Pierce
• August 6, 1:30 PM-3:30 PM, Treasure Coast High School, 1000 SW Darwin Avenue, Port St. Lucie
• August 7, 1:30 PM-3:30 PM, Rivers Edge Elementary School, 5600 NE St. James Drive, Port St. Lucie
• August 8, 9:00 AM-11:30 AM, Morningside Elementary School, 2300 SE Gowin Drive, Port St. Lucie
• August 8, 1:30 PM-3:30 PM, Oak Hammock K-8 School, 1251 SW California Blvd., Port St. Lucie

St. Lucie school grades drop following numerous changes in grading formula

Fort Pierce, FL — Despite students in many cases performing better on the FCAT and other standardized tests compared to 2012, due to multiple changes in the state school grading formula, many St. Lucie Public Schools – mirroring statewide results — saw a drop of at least one letter grade in 2013 compared to last year, according to results for schools with grades kindergarten through eighth grade released today by the Florida Department of Education. High school grades are expected to be released later in the fall because of other calculations for their school grades.

School grades are primarily calculated based on student performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). The list below shows the letter grades assigned to St. Lucie public schools for 2013.

“We are certainly disappointed to see that the hard work and dedication of our teachers, students and other stakeholders, all of which resulted in so many cases of significant improvements, are not reflected in this year’s school grades,” remarked interim superintendent Genelle Yost, who assumed the district’s leadership upon the retirement of Michael Lannon June 30. “But we will continue to focus on each child, every day, so that all students are provided the individual support to ensure their academic success,” she added.

This is the third year changes in the state accountability system have been enacted by the Florida Department of Education following legislative mandates, some 32 changes just in the last two years. However, in 2012, the State Board of Education put in place a one-year stopgap measure to keep school grades from dropping more than one letter grade when the department realized the impact the changes would have on school grades last year. That provision was narrowly approved by the State Board of Education to be extended for this year only, while other grading formula changes remain in place.

Changes that affected this year’s school grades include new achievement levels for FCAT 2.0 Science and End-of-Course assessments in Biology 1 and Geometry, raising the writing standard used in school grades up to 3.5 from 3.0 last year, requiring that schools must show that the lowest-performing students are making progress in both reading and math, and including test performance and learning gains of students who attend alternative schools.

For K-8 and middle schools, the actual student performance is also impacted by the addition of a new measurement of acceleration rates of students, so that for several schools whose students showed improvement in test scores, their grade did not improve.

The additional changes in the grading formula, and their expected impact, drew the ire of education leaders across the state, which prompted Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett to convene a meeting July 1 with five district superintendents, Senator Bill Montford, who is also executive director of the state’s superintendent’s association, DOE staff members and the governor’s deputy chief of staff to discuss the impact of more changes to the accountability system to school grades for this year.

Statistics to note for St. Lucie schools:

• There is a significant increase in student performance this year at Lakewood Park Elementary, but this did not result in a letter grade improvement due to the safety net added last year
• C.A. Moore and Lakewood Park elementary schools realized a fairly large increase in grade level points and student performance on the FCAT, particularly on the writing section, but those improvements will not show in an improved school grade
• White City Elementary increased its accountability points this year and earned a B. Last year, they were granted a B based on the safety net; but, again due to the false floor imposed, they maintained their letter grade when their performance actually improved
• Fairlawn Elementary and F.K. Sweet Elementary maintained their positions earning a ‘A’ grade with a stable performance across the two years
• Southern Oaks Middle also maintained its position with a relatively stable performance across the two years on the original calculations included in the school grade
• Village Green Environmental Studies would have increased a letter grade based on their students’ performance this year, but also were impacted by last year’s decision to implement a false floor for school grades

School Name Preliminary Grade 2013


State Board Approves Emergency Rule

State Board of Education members voted in support of Commissioner Tony Bennett’s emergency rule to provide a “safety net” that schools’ grades would not drop more than one letter grade for FY13, continuing the same provision for FY12.  It also changes the premise by which districts may have originally decided that ESE center students’ grades would be counted against the regular school to which the student would be assigned or against the center school.  (St. Lucie County’s only ESE Center to be impacted is Positive Expectations Academy).

Several State Board members acknowledged the fact that the current grading system has been frequently changed to the point it has become over complicated and the “A-F” model may not be as relevant now as when it was first passed in 1999.  Commissioner Bennett has committed to the development of a comprehensive 3-year plan to support the transition and implementation of Common Core with a new accountability system.

A copy of the new rule is below.

School accountability grades will be released by the end of the month.

6AER13-01, School Grade Mitigation.  Notwithstanding any other rule to the contrary, if a school grade preliminarily calculated under Rule 6A-1.09981, FAC., is more than one (1) letter grade below the school’s grade for the prior year, the points assigned based upon the provisions of Rule 6A-1.09981(5)(a)1., 2., and 3., FAC., shall be adjusted such that a school’s letter grade is reduced by no more than one (1) letter grade. The points earned shall be evenly allocated across the components in subparagraphs (5)(a)1., 2., and 3., of Rule 6A-1.09981, FAC., in order to ensure that a school’s grade is based upon the components of student achievement, learning gains and the improvement of the lowest 25th percentile.

Rulemaking Authority 1001.02, 1008.22, 1008.34, 1008.345 FS.

Law Implemented 1008.22, 1008.34, 1008.345 FS. History – New

2013 Annual Report to the Community posted on district web site

The St. Lucie Public Schools’ 2013 Annual Report to the Community is posted on the school district web site at Please enjoy the growth in student performance in academics, performing arts, educational opportunities and athletics. Due to limited resources, only several hundred printed reports will be published and distributed to agencies serving children and families throughout the community.