The winners in each of four employee categories for St. Lucie Public Schools were announced at the annual Night of the Stars gala celebration February 23 at Lincoln Park Academy. The recognition program is sponsored by the St. Lucie County Education Foundation and the school board.
Fort Pierce Central High School 32-year veteran math teacher and coach Harry B. Williams was named 2014 Teacher of the Year, and Palm Point Educational Research School at Tradition plant manager Eric Henik, who has been in that position since the school opened five years ago, was named 2013 School Related Employee of the Year. Both of these district representatives will move on to regional consideration for the state honors in their categories. The Teacher of the Year distinction is historically for the year after the selection due to the year of service for the state in the following school year. The Morganti Group sponsors the award for Teacher of the Year, and the St. Lucie Education Foundation sponsors the School Related Employee of the Year award.
Amanda Hayes, second grade teacher at Samuel S. Gaines Academy, was announced as the 2013 Outstanding First Year Teacher, and Roderick Johnson, ninth grade dean from Fort Pierce Central High School, is the 2013 Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year. These two categories are local recognitions. Spherion Recruiting and Staffing sponsors the Outstanding First Year Teacher award, and Keiser University sponsors the Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year award.
Pictured, from left, are Harry Williams, Roderick Johnson, Amanda Hayes and Eric Henik.
Also honored were Ucola Barrett-Baxter from Parkway Elementary, Principal of the Year, and susan Seal of Fort Pierce Central High, Assistant Principal of the Year.
Other finalists for Teacher of the Year include Loryn Black, first grade teacher at Fairlawn Elementary School, and Lt. Colonel Joseph J. Cavallaro, Air Force JROTC senior instructor at Treasure Coast High School.
Other finalists for School Related Employee of the Year were Stephanie Ludwig, Exceptional Student Education paraprofessional at Floresta Elementary School, and Patricia Sorrell, interpreter for deaf and hard of hearing students at Oak Hammock K8 School.
Schools and district departments annually may nominate an employee at their site for the appropriate categories. Selection committees comprised of former honorees, teachers, and school and district administrators reviewed applications of the nominees for each category and interviewed applicants for the state honors. Three finalists in the Teacher of the Year and School Related Employee of the Year categories were selected, and surprise visits announced those finalists.
From school sites, nominees included for Teacher of the Year (TOY), School Related Employee of the Year (SREY), Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year (DMEY) and Outstanding First Year Teacher (OFYT), were:
• Allapattah Flats K-8, TOY Ann Hartman, SREY Carlyn Marshall, DMEY Edwina Taylor, and OFYT Melissa Nelson
• Bayshore Elementary, TOY Yvonne Kay De Aguiar, SREY John Britt, DMEY Annette Hawkins, and OFYT Jonathan Cruz
• C.A. Moore Elementary, TOY Heather Gray, SREY Sarah Williams, DMEY Beverly Harris, and OFYT Talea Burgess
• Dale Cassens Education Complex, TOY Cheryl Ellison, SREY Lee Darden, DMEY Annette Gooden, and OFYT John Coy
• Dan McCarty School, TOY Kevin Garbers, SREY Yadira Gonzalez, DMEY Rommel Rivers, and OFYT Jeremiah Best
• Fairlawn Elementary, TOY Loryn Black, SREY Sandra Kent, DMEY Farida Chowdhury, and OFYT Jeannine Johannes
• Floresta Elementary, TOY Stephanie Castro, SREY Stephanie Ludwig, DMEY Elizabeth Paradoa, and OFYT Jaclyn Kraus
• Forest Grove Middle, TOY Leslie Parker-Earll, SREY Katiuska Valencia, DMEY Bradley Esau, and OFYT Colleen Wilson
• Fort Pierce Central High, TOY Harry B. Williams, SREY Eva Wortham, and DMEY Roderick Johnson,
• Ft. Pierce Magnet School of Arts, TOY Carey Saine, SREY Lynda Kangas, DMEY Lillian Athill, and OFYT Tionne Simmons
• Fort Pierce Westwood High, TOY Robert Beasley, SREY Debra Bowling, DMEY Monarae Buchanan, and OFYT Elizabeth Raasch
• Frances K. Sweet Elementary, TOY Christy Nuccio, SREY Jacqueline Foster, and DMEY Melissa King
• Garden City Early Learning Academy, TOY Shannon Dolan, SREY Devon Averyt, and DMEY Alexandra Laoutas
• Lakewood Park Elementary, TOY Jodi Hargreaves, SREY Stacey Carter, DMEY Nicole Verner, and OFYT Alyssa Tretter
• Lawnwood Elementary, TOY Carolyn Bates, SREY Mary Lewis, DMEY Mariann Davis,and OFYT Kimberly Colvin
• Lincoln Park Academy, TOY Beth Cue, SREY Wendall Adams, DMEY Cesar Figueroa, and OFYT Josie Cappelletti
• Manatee Academy K-8, TOY Vincent Scotto, SREY Marissa Parker, and OFYT Elena Keriazis
• Mariposa Elementary, TOY Monica Alameida, SREY Cathy Smith, DMEY Adriana Roberts, and OFYT Allison Pozo
• Morningside Elementary, TOY Jacqueline Clark, SREY Cherry McKenzie, and OFYT Ryan Prue
• Northport K-8, TOY Jennifer Carey, SREY Kathleen Egan, DMEY Marie Solide, and OFYT Angel Bracero
• Oak Hammock K-8, TOY Karen Rinelli, SREY Patty Sorrell, DMEY Flavia Valente, and OFYT Michael Shields
• Palm Pointe Education Research School at Tradition, TOY Meredith Andrus, SREY Eric Henik, DMEY Carline Jean, and OFYT Jennifer Gomez
• Parkway Elementary, TOY Jennifer Czajak, SREY Susan DiFruscio, DMEY Michelle Ramdowe, and OFYT James Alexander
• Port St. Lucie High School, TOY Michael Mimnaugh, SREY Maryann Nollinger, DMEY Demetrius Lane, and OFYT Alissa Becker
• Rivers Edge Elementary, TOY Amy Martinkovic, SREY Ann Marangio, and OFYT Sheena Thiefault-Proctor
• Samuel S. Gaines Academy K-8, TOY Lenaiah Wood, SREY Donella Crenshaw, DMEY Stephanie Collins, and OFYT Amanda Hayes
• St. Lucie Elementary, TOY Emily Barrie, SREY Sarah Smith-Mills, DMEY Andrea Oliver-Thomas, and OFYT Melissa Garwol
• St. Lucie West K-8, TOY Claudia Martin-Vegue, SREY Stephen Canton, and OFYT Sophia Yancy
• St. Lucie West Centennial High, TOY Elizabeth Durkee, SREY Christopher Holman, DMEY Jose Rodriguez, and OFYT Stephanie Gaffney
• Savanna Ridge Elementary, TOY Rebecca Petrie, SREY Bob Andrade, and DMEY Jesse Bosque
• Southern Oaks Middle, TOY Carnell Plowden, SREY Joe Matthews, DMEY Jose Rivero, and OFYT Kelly McLaughlin
• Southport Middle, TOY Kimberly Nicholas, SREY Steven Miller, DMEY Yolanda Parks, and OFYT Morgan Kellogg
• Treasure Coast High, TOY Lt. Colonel Joseph J. Cavallaro, SREY Diane Evans, DMEY Sgt. Melvin Simmons, and OFYT Kristin Sample
• Village Green Environmental Studies School, TOY Laura Ellis, SREY Patrick Hayes, DMEY Sherri Brown, and OFYT Heather Concepcion
• Weatherbee Elementary, TOY Melanie Macpherson, SREY Louise Lucia, DMEY Jennifer Nelson, and OFYT Bryan Lee
• West Gate K-8, TOY Easter Weathers, SREY Autherine Jethroe, DMEY Ayesha Boria, and OFYT Christopher Edgecombe
• White City Elementary, TOY Tara Sekerchak, SREY Linda Neill, DMEY Ashley McGahee, and OFYT Amanda Dewey
• Windmill Point Elementary, TOY Melissa Lucrezia, SREY Jan Turgeson, DMEY Melissa San Martin, and OFYT Jacqueline Davis
From district departments, nominees for SREY include:
• Business Services, Cheryl Dempsey
• Information Technology Services, Judy Hamm
• Curriculum and Instruction, Janis Conkle
• Student Services, Valarie Watkins
• Superintendent’s Office, Charmaine Martin-Brooks
• Facilities and Transportation, Willie Freeman
• Federal Programs, Rose Henson
Floresta’s after-school tutorial clubs are off to a great start, thanks to the organized and creative leadership of media teacher Geraldine Wills and math coach Vicki Pease. They have put together a wide variety of project-based learning opportunities that align with students’ interests and state standards, and in some cases, provide students opportunities to experience new and different interests. Since students are expected to begin making career choices as early as middle school, what better way to help them make the right choices than to introduce them to career fields and “hands on” experiences in areas not previously explored. Students are offered opportunities to join clubs in the areas of horticulture, culinary arts, journalism, woodworking, drama, fine arts, game design, dance, and book clubs. The clubs meet for one to two hours daily on various days of the week and are led by teachers who are excited to share their knowledge and expertise in these diverse areas. Written by Suzanne Diaz and submitted by Viviana Gross.
St. Lucie West Centennial High School athletic director John Messina joins six other individuals being inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame April 28 in Gainesville during the 23rd-annual Induction Ceremony. Their induction will bring to only 157 members who have earned this prestigious honor. As head baseball coach at Pace, Port St. Lucie and Jensen Beach high schools, Messina compiled a 465-160 record and totaled three state championships with two state runner-ups while coaching two USA Players of the Year — Alex Fernandez in 1988 and Rick Ankiel in 1997. Messina was also named the Florida State Coach of the Year on four occasions, earned the FIAAA Meritorious Service Award, two FHSAA Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Awards and currently serves on the FHSAA’s Academic All-State Committee and Representative Assembly. The Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame was started in 1991 by the FHSAA to honor high school student-athletes, coaches, administrators, contest officials, media and other contributors for significant long-term contributions with meaningful statewide impact in high school athletics sponsored by the Association. The seven individuals were chosen using a selection process which first involved a screening committee comprised of coaches, past Hall of Fame members, athletic directors, media representatives, contest officials and former male and female student-athletes. Once the screening committee pared down the nominee list, the selection committee then rated each remaining candidate. Congratulations to our colleague John Messina!
Dan McCarty families enjoyed the first athletic banquet to recognize students from fall and winter sports. All students participating in extra-curriculuar activities must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and have good behavior. Following dinner, families watched a video of Eagle athletes talking about focusing on both academics and sports. Each student then received a certificate recognizing his or her accomplishments. Sports recognized included soccer, volleyball, bowling, and track. Each coach assisted in the presentation of certificates. The soccer team was also recognized for winning the first trophy in the school’s history in the district soccer tournament. Final awards were for students with the highest GPA in each sport. Two students, Andrew Fenn (bowling) and Sarah Parks (volleyball) have maintained a perfect 4.0. The picture shows proud families photographing the honored students.
Floresta Elementary School recently hosted its first CSI night to help solve the riddle of who removed the ice cream freezer from the cafeteria. Throughout the week prior to the event, students were informed of the curious incident, and were given information each day on the morning announcements. This information allowed them to formulate a hypothesis regarding who would do such a thing, and why. The suspects were coach Adam Schwimer, music teacher Jaclyn Kraus, media specialist Gerri Wills, media clerk Cemera Clancy, and custodial services’ Doug Abbhul. Pictured, from left, are Jaclyn Kraus, Adam Schwimer, Doug Abbuhl, Cemera Clancy, and Gerri Wills. Each suspect had been observed in the area about the time the freezer went missing. Furthermore, each had the opportunity, and a possible motive for conducting this act. At the CSI event, hands on investigation stations were set up for parents and students to conduct scientific experiments that would eliminate one suspect at a time, until the true culprit was discovered. After all investigations were complete, it was finally discovered that Coach Schwimer was guilty of removing the ice cream freezer from the cafeteria. During further questioning, Coach admitted he did it to help students remain physically fit for their upcoming mile run. He was very apologetic for creating such a stir, but happy that students did well on their running challenge. Because Coach Schwimer did it for the good of the students, he faced no charges. The event was well attended, and a great time was had by all. Written by Suzanne Diaz, submitted by Viviana Gross.
A team of students from Ft. Pierce Westwood’s Marine Oceanographic Academy (MOA) placed second in the 15th annual Manatee Bowl, an annual, regional ocean science competition. A team from St. Lucie West Centennial High School joined in the competition against 20 teams from 14 schools from the east coast of Florida. The teams are tested through quick Jeopardy-style questions and thought-provoking team challenge questions. Questions are drawn from the scientific and technical disciplines used in studying the oceans — physics, chemistry, geology, atmospheric science, biology, national and international economics, history and culture. The regional competition alternates annually between the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science and Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce. The MOA team was undefeated entering the final round, thus securing one of the two top spots, but two losses to Archimedean Upper Conservatory School in the championship round ended MOA’s two-year reign as champion. The winning team from the regional competition is eligible to compete in the national competition, which this year is set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Pictured in the navy team tee shirts, from left, are team coach Scott McMillen, Ludwin Vielman, Jeremy Johnson, Rhyan Grant, Graham Oreo,and Roxy Vega, flanked by two members of the UM staff.
First grade students at Windmill Point Elementary enjoyed a Black History presentation. Students participated in African American dance, listened to African folktales, and got up close and personal with artifacts brought from Africa. As students listened to a poem about famous African Americans, they got a feel for what their daily life would be like without inventions created by many of those influential people. Pictured are students in Allison Weicheck’s class as they explore the African wood artifacts.
Students in Jessica Allen’s seventh grade science class from Southport Middle School learned about how plants convert light energy to chemical energy and store it in the bonds of sugar (photosynthesis). Pictured are Delsin Pillay, right, and Althea Charles at a recent field trip to Savannas State Park as they conduct the experiment by creating their own version of the process that plants take by recreating the light reaction that occurs within plants.
St. Lucie Public Schools’ Volunteers of the Year for three categories were announced at the February 26, 2013, St. Lucie County School Board meeting. Prior to the meeting, an appreciation celebration was held for all of the nominees and their families in the Superintendent’s Suite sponsored by the St. Lucie Education Foundation. The Adult Volunteer is Kim Guettler from Fairlawn Elementary, Youth Volunteer is Jordan Trojanowski, a student at Westwood High School nominated by Southern Oaks Middle School, and Senior Volunteer is Lucille Van Doorn from Parkway Elementary. Their nominations will go on to regional competition for the state award. Pictured, front row from left, are Kim Guettler, Jordan Trojanowski, and Lucille Van Doorn. Back row, from left, are Superintendent Michael Lannon, School Board chairman Debbie Hawley, and Career and Technical Education Director Kathie Schmidt, who coordinates the district volunteer program.
Northport K-8 Principal Glenn Rustay and Media Specialist and volunteer coordinator Lynne Gruszka, and the entire school community are proud to honor Senior Volunteer of the Year Kay Egan and Adult Volunteer of the Year Suzi Scott. The two women were honored at a reception at the St. Lucie County School Board recently along with many other volunteers who work diligently to support students, teachers and schools’ staff. Mrs. Egan and Mrs. Scott assist teachers in any way possible, including cooking, mentoring students, running copies, purchasing supplies and goodies as well as assisting the PTO and the school administration. Special thanks and accolades to all Northport K-8 School
volunteers. Pictured, from left, are Kay Egan, Lynne Gruszka, Suzi Scott and Glenn Rustay.
Students in Dannielle Cason’s eighth grade reading class at Allapattah Flats K8 School took the opportunity to view text from different character perspectives. Using the short story “The Cat Who Thought She Was a Dog and the Dog Who Thought He Was a Cat” by Isaac Beshevis Singer, the students first identified plot structure and then chose six events from the story to retell from on of the characters’ perspective. The students rewrote the event as if they were the particular character from the story. Finally, they constructed a storyboard of events to visually illustrate how the character “saw” each event. Pictured is Joane Jeanty working on her storyboard assignment.
Kindergartners at Mariposa Elementary enjoyed a hands-on presentation about how to care for their teeth. They were shown the importance of flossing and the correct way to floss, discussed foods that make their teeth happy and foods that make their teeth sad. They also were shown how to brush their teeth properly to make sure they removed the plaque. Every student left with a tooth brushing kit that included all the tools they needed to ensure successful brushing. Pictured, from left, are Jamarion Riggins, Sabrina Swayne, Kaitlin Taylor, Abigayle Conner, Analisa Bermudez, Maria Roman, Jade Mayberry, Lillian Baber, and Khaleel Leahong with dental hygienists from Dr. Michael Cook’s Port St. Lucie dental office.
Trophies were awarded for the winning entries in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemmorative Committee parade on January 21, 2013, in Fort Pierce. First, second and third place, plus winners of special judges’ awards, were presented. Pictured, front row kneeling, are Jerrime Shells of Forest Grove Middle School with its first place trophy for the middle school division , and Principal Todd Smith of Fort Pierce Central High School with the first place trophy for the high school category. Second row, from left, are Assistant Principal Kim Smith with the Overall Floating Trophy awarded to Fort Pierce Magnet School of the Arts, Lilliam Athill with the first place trophy for Fort Pierce Magnet School of the Arts for the K-8 division, Barbara Bennett and Principal Juanita Wright of F. K. Sweet Elementary with the second place elementary division and Chairman of Judges Trophy, Assistant Principal Pat Gascoigne of Fairlawn Elementary with the first place trophy for the elementary school category, and School Board Chairman Debbie Hawley. Back row, from left, are Principal Terry Davis and Assistant Principal Latasha Scurry of Forest Grove Middle School, Superintendent Michael Lannon, Fairlawn Elementary School principal Marcia Cully, Rivers Edge assistant principal and committee chairperson Andrew McIntosh, committee member Dianne Williams, and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Mark Rendell.
First grade students at Allapattah Flats K8 recently enjoyed had a up-close look at Florida wildlife. Cheryl Wise of Busch Wildlife brought an opossum, turtle, corn snake, and an owl to the school. First graders learned facts about Florida wildlife and their habitats. Pictured are Tyler Garren,right, and Henos Yonas from Ann Hartman’s first grade class. They were brave first graders to touch “Sweet Potato” the corn snake. What a great visit!
A local Burger King restaurant recently helped White City Elementary fourth grade students celebrate their hard work in preparation of FCAT Writes. The store manager has donated this treat to White City Elementary for three years and the students of Karen Maxwell, Brenda Newman, Heather Ricksecker, and Adam Seal show their appreciation!
Northport K-8 Community Book Fair promotes positive interactions with students and teachers in an atmosphere filled with resources to fit the needs of every learner. Media specialist Lynne Gruszka and clerk Pam Crum are able to offer accessibilty to great books to encourage students to want to read. The book fair gives parents and grandparents an opportunity to shop with their children to select books directly with the teacher to fit students’ literary needs and likes and offers a great outlet for development of reading skills. The book fair has materials appropriate for all learners in the K-8 school. The fair offers a friendly, easy going atmosphere with books as the showcase. Pictured are seventh graders, from left, Christopher Thiery, Christian llanos, Jose Miguel, intstructor, Diane Carvalho and Tatyana Walker enjoying the many types of materials and resources that the fair offers.
As part of Northport K-8 School’s response to the Florida Department of Education’s “Celebrate Literacy” initiative, students were given the opportunity to write an essay sponsored by local American Legion Post 318 Auxiliary and the Northport media center. The topic of the essay was “What Freedom Do I Enjoy The Most?” Over 40 students from grades three through eight responded with excellent, well formulated essays. Students reviewed what freedoms really are with parents and guardians as well as grandparents and then wrote thoughtful and meaningful essays in response to the topic. Three students’ essays were chosen to be sent to the Department of American Legion Auxiliary in Tallahassee, Florida. The Northport students were third grader Kayli Lepel, fifth grader Suzzlie Desir, and eighth grader Christian Ritter. Pictured are Kayli Lepel, left, and Suzzlie Desir.
As February comes to a close and March rolls in, kindergartners at Allapattah Flats K8 reflect back on their favorite events from the month. One of their most tresured was the 100 Day Celebration that kicked off the month of February, celebrating their 100 days of school since August. The students had a great time participating in an outside celebration that included 10 fun stations that the students moved to in 10-minute increments. There was hopscotch 100, 10 minutes of hula-hoops, sack racing, counting by 10s jump rope, and many more fun activities. Everyone had lots of fun and even as they move forward into March and the rest of the year the students are still looking back and remembering this notable right of passage. Pictured are teacher Ryan Zakrajsek with, from right, Detrich Washington, Hannah Horton and Brandon Brown, with Armani Metelus scrambling to find a place to sit.
On Friday, March 1st, West Gate K-8 welcomed Ms. Alicia Kohanski as guest reader for our annual celebration of Read Across America. Ms. Kohanski is a Children’s Program Specialist with the St. Lucie County Library System. Her programs are literacy based and include the use of books, stories, music, flannel boards, puppets and props. During two exciting 45 minute performances, Ms. Kohanski thoroughly engaged students in all of West Gate’s first grade classes. West Gate would like to thank Ms. Kohanski and the St. Lucie County Library system for sharing our love of reading.
Students from Fort Pierce Central’s aerospace program, along with their instructor Dr. Kevin Adkins, recently visited the eighth grade students at Palm Pointe Educational Research School @ Tradition. They shared data they had collected from a wind tunnel they had designed at Central. The students shared information about factors that affect flight and the impact of wind moving over an airfoil. After the presentation, the students were able to use the data collected and make graphs that recreated what was expected in the experiments that Dr. Adkins and his students had conducted. This was a great lesson for the students. Pictured is Dr. Adkins as he presents the information to the eighth graders.