Northport K-8 School is celebrating right along with schools, clubs and businesses across the nation this month in honoring January as National Mentors Month. The motto for this special month nationwide is “Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters!” At Northport K-8 School, a St. Lucie County “Kids At Hope” school, there is plenty to be thankful for during National Mentors Month. Several teachers have taken on the role of reading mentor, holding reading groups around the school on a regular basis, and the community organization Big Brothers, Big Sisters of St. Lucie County has taken a firm foothold within the school. Not only does Northport host community Big Brother, Big Sister mentors work with targeted students on citizenship skills through the organization, but also the AmeriCorps Intensive reading tutors work with dozens of children to promote reading skills, daily attendance and assistance in building a positive relationship with a supportive adult. Mentorships means the world to our students and a committed, caring and positive adult can mean a world of difference to a child. The relationships built can serve as very important steps on the child’s ladder to reaching his or her fullest potential. A special thank you to all Northport K-8 School’s mentor teachers and to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties. Pictured, from left, are Northport AmeriCorps tutors and their students, Alex Neelan and Izaiah Pearson, Renee Simpson and Jenilyn Key and Jacqueline McKnight with Jazlyn Simpson. Help celebrate National Mentors Month on January 16 which is “Thank You Mentors Day” nationwide!
Floresta Elementary School teachers kicked off the New Year by participating in a full day of Professional Development. Teachers worked together in grade group teams to develop and map out engaging and focused plans designed to further support student achievement on upcoming assessments. Fourth grade teachers created a specific plan to individualize their writing instruction, targeting specific student needs with creative activities and real world writing opportunities. All grade levels, K-5, worked together in the core subject areas of reading, writing, math, and science. As we enter the second half of the school year with renewed enthusiasm and collaborative spirit, we are turning up the heat at Floresta. As steam rises, so does student achievement. Picture are fifth grade teachers Fred Lehman, left, and Jessica Serra. Written by Suzanne Diaz.
Port Saint Lucie High School Jaguar Battalion Cadet Lieutenant Colonel William Benagh IV has been accepted into the United State Military Academy at West Point. William Benagh will be a second generation West Point cadet. The United States Military Academy’s mission is to train and inspire the Corps of Cadets, so each graduate is a commissioned leader committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of excellence as an officer in the United States Army. The Academy provides a four-year education, focused on the leader development of cadets in the academic, military, and physical domains, all underwritten by adherence to a code of honor. Congratulations William Benagh!
Photo by Jaffrey Murankus.
Port Saint Lucie High School Jaguar cadet First Lieutenant James Williams was recently awarded the “Cadet of The Year” honor from the Florida Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) Army ROTC, earning him a full scholarship to F.I.T. This was a very tough competition — the difference between first and second place was a mere five points. Williams will receive a three year Army ROTC scholarship, as well as an F.I.T. ROTC incentive program for tuition — all told, a $160,000 scholarship award. Congratulations to James for all his hard work and dedication! Pictured presenting James the award are First Sergeant George Fiske from F.I.T., left, and Lieutenant Colonel Troy Glassman, right, F.I.T. professor of Military Science. Photo by Richard Thompson.
Students in Hillary Cruz’s seventh grade Civics classes at Palm Pointe Educational Research School @ Tradition have selected the problem of puppy mills and current breeder legislation to focus on for this years’ Project Citizen project. To assist in comparing how state and federal agencies enforce animal welfare legislation, students contacted Dr. Gaj with the United States Department of Agriculture, who visited the classroom with a PowerPoint presentation on the subject, as well as answered students’ questions. Pictured are Luke Bentley, left, and Zachary Barsuglia with animals they received after answering questions for Dr Gaj during the presentation.
The St. Lucie County School Board adopted a measure at its January 14, 2014, meeting proclaiming January, 2014, as National Mentoring Month in St. Lucie County public schools. Big Brothers, Big Sisters (BBBS) Vice President of Programs Jenni Palm, pictured at left, and Caitlin Elbrecht, BBBS Lead Site-based Match Support Specialist, center, presented the proclamation to School Board Chairman Debbie Hawley, right.
Northport K-8 middle grades students made great strides in research techniques and effectively followed the scientific method as the school-based Science Fair came to a conclusion. Sixty-two students whose projects were evaluated as “highly effective” were selected to display their projects in the Northport Media Center. A wide array of projects were on display covering multiple categories such as botany, earth science, chemistry, physics and astronomy and medicine and health. First and second place winners in each category will represent Northport K-8 School as delegates to the Regional Science Fair to be held on February 13, 2014 at the Kight Center at Indian River State College. The Northport projects are authentic assessments using the scientific method and information to solve real world problems. Long range planning and implementation are vital components to completing the project. Dr. Laura Woodworth, who serves as the school’s science fair coordinator, is pictured with the science fair participants earning awards.
This year, students in grades 5-8 at Southport Middle School were challenged to imagine themselves living during the American Revolution for the D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution) essay contest. How would they feel? What would they do? How would their lives be different during the time of war instead of a time of peace? After months of waiting, the winners of the sixth grade have been announced and are members of the school’s Marlins team. Pictured, from left, are Kassidy Allen, third place; Maya Cook, second place; and Shania Delano, first place. Congratulations to the students for their achievements in historical research and writing.
Bayshore Elementary students and staff participated in Celebrate Literacy Week. Students and staff members learned about vocabulary words and story book characters, then demonstrated their knowledge by participating in a literacy parade. First grade teachers provided students with visual representations of vocabulary words starting with the prefix mis. Pictured, from left, are Abby Mollet (mismatched), Stacy Baldino (misbehaved), Debbie Gonzalez (misunderstood), Marge Cuellar (misfortune), Vanessa Piekara (mistaken), and Natasha Alexander (misspelled).
ESE teachers at Lakewood Park Elementary, along with ESE School-based specialist Rachel Smith, have begun a book study on Quality I.E.P.s to enhance their planning and goal setting for students. As a part of this study, teachers are able to apply their learning and discuss strategies designed to meet the rigorous requirements of instruction as they seek to serve and support their students daily. Pictured, from left, are Peggy Blount, Virginia Cirillo, and Jodi Hargreaves. Taking the picture is Rachel Smith.
Congratulations to Floresta Elementary fourth grade student Dominic Kelly in Suzanne Diaz’s class, who was selected as the state of Florida winner in Bonnie’s Plants’ cabbage growing contest program. In a surprise assembly to recognize Dominic for his mammoth 38 lb cabbage, Erica Der, the Education Liaison from the Department of Agriculture presented Dominic with a certificate from the State of Florida. Jonathan Shepherd, representative for Bonnie’s Plants, presented Dominic with a $1,000 savings bond, which could double by maturity to be worth nearly $2,000. Bonnie’s Plants has sponsored the contest for the last 15 years for any third grade teacher who wishes to participate. The program began in Alabama and has grown to include 48 states. Dominic planted the cabbage at his grandmother’s house so he could water it each day when he visits. He claims he didn’t use any special fertilizer or soil, and didn’t do any thing other than plant it in the ground and water it at least once daily. The family is still discussing what they will do with the colossal cabbage. Pictured are Shepherd, Dominic, and Der.
Southport Middle School students, their siblings and parents have the opportunity to receive a lifetime boating license at the school. The basic aspects and skills of boating, including boat handling, fire safety, rules of the water, radio use, water rescue and much more are being taught by a licensed captain in the school’s media center. Those who pass the exam will receive a Florida lifetime boating license which is required to operate a boat in Florida waters. The course is free and lasts for eight weeks. Pictured, from left, are Jamil Abram, Captain Dana Kaiser, Summer Muscanera, Brandon Wayne, John Shaw and Captain George Hehner discussing the importance of wearing safety vests while on a vessel.
Dale Cassen Educational Complex (DCEC) student Jesus Dominguez was recognized by the St. Lucie County School Board at its January 14, 2014, business meeting for being honored as the Very Special Arts Florida (VSAFL) November Student of the Month. The VSAFL program is designed to increase public awareness and recognize the impact arts make on students with disabilities statewide. Students who participate in the arts develop creativity, have increased self-confidence, understand teamwork, have increased language and math skills and are generally more engaged. DCEC art teacher Dan Galloway, who recognized Jesus’ talent and vivid imagination, and his utilization of art to achieve success in both his art and behavioral accomplishments, nominated Jesus for the award. Galloway noted that through continuous recognition and positive feedback for his new-found skill, “Jesus has discovered his enormous talent, and is well on his way to becoming a wonderful artist.” Pictured, from left, are St. Lucie County School Board chairman Debbie Hawley, Abigail, with her handler art teacher Dan Galloway, Jesus, St. Lucie Schools Superintendent Genelle Yost, Jesus’ parents Mr. and Mrs. Dominguez, DCEC principal Ellen Harden, and VSA Arts Of Florida representative Marcy Purdy.
The 30th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Commemmorative Committee Grand Parade streamed down 25th Street, or Martin Luther King., Jr., Boulevard, in Fort Pierce on Monday, January 20. The event culminated 10 days of community events, beginning with the Opening Ceremony January 10, 2014 and ending with the parade and festival in the park adjacent to Lawnwood Stadium. The St. Lucie School District was proudly represented by numerous floats and vehicles, bands, and student group performances. Pictured, from left, are Fort Pierce Central High School ROTC Cadet Honey Cardona-Franco, Cadet Ruben Ramirez, Cadet Chris Green, and the Cadet Stephanie Castillo exhibiting their physical fitness for the judges.
Members of the Fort Pierce Rotary Club recently visited Samual S. Gaines Academy and presented all third grade students with a free dictionary. Pictured is Rotarian Stephen Neil with students receiving their very own dictionaries!
A number of Northport K-8 School administrators, teachers, students and parents supported the community and the St. Lucie School District by marching and riding in a float during the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., parade in Ft. Pierce recently. The Northport community was glad to help promote the theme “Continuing the Vision Through Education and Advocacy” and encouraged the community to remember Dr. King’s dream. The Northport K-8 School middle grades band, under the direction of instructor Brian Hoce, marched in the parade and played the song “Stand By Me,” originally performed by Ben E. King. Northport third grade student Deja Adams said,” I loved the parade because I could be proud of my school and wave to all my friends from my old school. It was a beautiful day for a parade!” Pictured is the Northport band carrying the school’s banner.
Students in Elizabeth Butterworth’s second grade class at Lakewood Park Elementary recently had a COOL blast constructing snowmen. The STEM math project introduced a money unit by students purchasing each piece of their snowman and keeping the cost below $25.00. Students were required to do a purchase order and write a sales pitch. The students experienced a “snowman cool time” while writing and doing math. Pictured are Ms. Butterworth and her students with their snowmen displayed on the bulletin board.
Northport K-8 students, parents, teachers and staff joined hundreds of other Florida schools to celebrate literacy this year during “Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!” The week of January 13 through 17, 2014 was themed “Reading Accelerates Success!” The week long celebration at Northport K-8 School included fun and intriguing activities that helped students connect with all kinds of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The activities helped celebrate the success that Northport has accomplished. Some of the activities included “Get Caught Reading” tickets for prize drawings, Title Mash boards where students decorated their favorite book title, “Chew and Read” activities, buddy reading, a career station filled with books on STEM careers that would fit the 21st century job seeker, silent reading time to add to the 33 million minutes that other schools in the school district aspire to read, and a culminating vocabulary parade. The week of literacy celebrations and activities promoted positive interactions within the school community. Pictured, from left, rear, are middle grades Northstar students Savannah Cruzeiro, Brandy Staab, Ayana Kelly, Kelsey Kreiger and Arabella Tenneson. Front, from left, are fourth grade students from Jennifer Gomez’ class, Logan Sacchi, Timothy Ware-Terry, Christian Baca-Rool, Hannah Lovsey, Brooklyn Wards and Christopher Gunn. Students are pictured in front of the Title Mash Boards.
Staff and faculty from Samuel S. Gaines Academy participated in the recent Grand Parade to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day festivities. Representing the school, from left, are district employee award nominees, Teacher of the Year nominee Christen McCray, Distinguished Minority Educator nominee Robert Plowden, and and School Related Employee of the Year nominee Cequila Terry.
Three teachers were surprised at their school sites the morning of January 24 when an entourage led by Superintendent Genelle Yost, school board members, district administrators and representatives of the St. Lucie County Education Foundation visited their classrooms to announce their selection as finalists for the 2015 St. Lucie County Public Schools Teacher of the Year. Pictured is Superintendent Yost, right, with finalist Heather Bolitho of Oak Hammock K-8 School.
The finalists are: Heather Bolitho, media specialist at Oak Hammock K-8 School in Port St. Lucie; Matthew Boswell, Fort Pierce Central High School band and choral director; and Kelly Ridle, media specialist at Fairlawn Elementary School in Fort Pierce.
The difficult task of selecting the finalists was determined by a committee of former Teachers of the Year, principals, and district administrators. The finalists will be visited in the coming weeks in their classrooms for committee members to observe their classroom instruction. The local announcements are always in the year prior to the beginning of the Florida Teacher of the Year reign due to the statewide selection process not culminating until the following school year.
Heather Jean Bolitho, Oak Hammock K-8 School:
Heather Bolitho truly believes and exemplifies that teachers change lives forever. She sees every student who comes into the media center, or whose classroom she visits, for the individuals that they are. Ms. Bolitho cherishes the qualities and differences that make each student unique. She has created a warm, safe learning environment in the school’s media center for students. They love to take reading risks and accept reading challenges because they know she is there to support and guide them.
Ms. Bolitho has been at Oak Hammock K-8 School since 2006, first serving as a reading teacher for five years prior to becoming the school’s media specialist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies in 2002 from Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, and a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University in 2013.
The media center is Ms. Bolitho’s platform to support students, staff and families. Whether helping students select paper books or e-books they will certainly enjoy and read, sharing print and technology resources with teachers, or planning family literacy events, Mrs. Bolitho always has a smile on her face and a song in her voice.
Students describe Mrs. Bolitho as helpful, nice and awesome. They especially appreciate the way she speaks and interacts with them, and they recognize her belief in them.
As a Treasure Hunter in the Kids at Hope school, Ms. Bolitho is committed to searching for all the talents, skills and intelligence that exists in all the students at her school. These are not just the words of the Kids at Hope pledge to Ms. Bolitho, which students and staff hear from her in the pledge every morning during announcements, she exemplifies these words every day with the students and her school-wide colleagues
Ms. Bolitho also serves her school as reading department chair, collaboratively working with teachers to plan meaningful assessment and instruction, to analyze and use data to make instructional decisions for students. She has also served as vice president of the St. Lucie County Reading Council, chair of the Literacy Council, and a mentor to new teachers.
Matthew Boswell, Fort Pierce Central High School:
Matthew Boswell has been at Fort Pierce Central High School (FPCHS) his entire four-year teaching career. Boswell graduated from Florida State University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education. And according to FPCHS principal Todd Smith, upon his accepting the leadership of the band and choral program at the school, Boswell has accomplished the unthinkable – taken a program of less than 90 students and in four short years established a premier performing arts program and earned the school’s band’s first superior rating in over 17 years.
The typical individual may have seen the low enrollment in the school’s band and chorus program as a barrier to potential success and used the position as a stepping stone for another opportunity. But, instead, Boswell used the challenge to actually build two programs at FPCHS. Not only has the band program soared, but additionally, under his direction, the choral department and musical productions have thrived. The FPCHS choir has routinely earned superior ratings and qualified for state competition for the first time in 15 years. And, the number of student drama productions offered has more than doubled and the program produced back-to-back sell-out shows in Grease and Footloose.
Boswell is also an educational leader, Smith said, who willingly accepts other roles, such as a beginning teacher mentor, and technical director for school-based professional development. In each setting, he has demonstrated the ability to proactively and successfully manage the daily activities without interfering with his innate desire to champion the rights of his students or colleagues. But most importantly, Boswell is seen as a teacher at heart, with the goal to prepare his students for success in life.
Kelly Ridle, Fairlawn Elementary School:
As the media specialist at Fairlawn Elementary School, Kelly Ridle is an integral part of the school’s team and takes her role very seriously. Her patience, enthusiasm, and genuine concern for all students are exemplary. She works collaboratively with colleagues, always staying focused on the goal of student achievement, realizing that every student can learn more than they currently do. She works with students to deepen their understanding of literacy and works with families to access resources for them to use with their children.
Ms. Ridle earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Magna Cum Laude, at Florida Atlantic University in 2004, having studied Interdisciplinary Studies at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA.
She began at Fairlawn Elementary School in 2003 as a first and second grade teacher, before becoming the media specialist for the school this year. With experience in such professional settings as a public relations manager, and a home health care liaison, prior to becoming a classroom teacher, Ms. Ridle brings her ability to establish relationships, communications and organization skills to her current role she describes as a literacy adjunct, combining classroom teacher knowledge in reading programs, Common Core standards, and student data-based needs with the media center resources to promote literacy for students and resources for teachers and classroom instruction.
Ms. Ridle has also served Fairlawn Elementary as an Odyssey of the Mind student group and sea camp group sponsor, in-service facilitator, Scholastic Book Fair chairperson, Thinking Maps trainer, school advisory council member, and Building level Planning Team member. She is an active community volunteer and biker.
The 2015 Teacher of the Year and 2014 School-Related Employee of the Year, which are statewide programs, as well as the two local school district employee recognitions of Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year and Outstanding First Year Teacher, will be announced Saturday, February 22, 2014, at the “Night of the Stars” celebration held at Lincoln Park Academy, sponsored by the St. Lucie County School District the St. Lucie County Education Foundation.
Sponsors for the different awards are: The Morganti Group, Teacher of the Year; The St. Lucie Education Foundation, School Related Employee of the Year; Keiser University, Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year; and Seacoast National Bank, Outstanding First Year Teacher of the Year.
The event will be televised live on WLX, The Education Channel, Comcast Cable Channels 13 in north St. Lucie County, 19 in south St. Lucie County, and Hometown Cable Channel 19 in Tradition, beginning at 6:00 PM. The program will also be streamed live through the school district website under the WLX button, and later posted on the Video on Demand section at http://www.stlucie.k12.fl.us/MediaServices/.
All nominees and their school sites are:
C.A. Moore Elementary Katherine Christopher
Dan McCarty School Robin L. Fillmann
Forest Grove MS Leigh Kimberly Bretherick
Ft. Pierce Central HS Matthew Boswell
Ft. Pierce Westwood HS Maureen Greenberg
Lakewood Park Elementary Jennifer Lusardi
Lawnwood Elementary Ashlay Parker
Palm Pointe @ Tradition Jade Alisen Joie
Samuel Gaines K-8 Christen McCray
St. Lucie Elementary Angela Ehrhard
Weatherbee Elementary Cindy Keesler Winterkamp
White City Elementary Rhiannon Myers
Allapattah Flats K-8 Danya Etter
Bayshore Elementary Jennifer Archer
FK Sweet Elementary Cynthia Langel
Ft. Pierce Magnet School of Arts Heather Nesbitt
Lincoln Park Academy Sally VanDereedt
Manatee K-8 Dawn Montoya
Oak Hammock K-8 Heather Bolitho
St. Lucie West Centennial Hs Carol E. Rondeau
St. Lucie West K-8 Michelle Fryer Dommel
Treasure Coast HS Grace Pierre-Louis
West Gate K-8 Kimberly L. Wolcott-Rappuhn
Windmill Pointe Elementary Stephanie E. Sakowski
Fairlawn Elementary Kelly Ridle
Floresta Elementary Grace Duvelsdorf
Mariposa Elementary Theresa Delancy
Morningside Elementary Allison R. Hargroves
Northport K-8 Alexander M. Phillips
Parkway Elementary Laurie A. Farr
Port St. Lucie HS Shea Lodes
Rivers Edge Elementary Natasha R. Rodriguez
Savanna Ridge Elementary Andrea N. Rice
Southern Oaks MS Tiffany Barrett
Southport MS Maureen Dakin
Village Green Environmental Studies School DeeDee Bradley
Alternative Education Steven Michael Farley