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School Board Honors Employee of Year and Administrators of Year

Photo Left to Right: Superintendent Bobby Pearce, Melisa Taylor, Becky Cook, Employee of the Year Rhonda Stevens,
School-Level Administrators of the Year Michele Falk Yeomans and Shannon Smith,
District-Level Administrator of the Year Randy Beach, Jo Ann Daniels, Verna Brock, Greg Thomas
Photo by Angie Walker

August 21, 2017

Wakulla County Schools’ Employee of the Year and Administrators of the Year for 2016-2017 were honored at the August 21 School Board Meeting.

Employee of the Year is Administrative Secretary Rhonda Stevens.

School-Level Administrators of the Year are Principal Michele Falk Yeomans and Assistant Principal Shannon Smith from Riversprings Middle School.

District-Level Administrator of the Year is Chief Financial Officer Randy Beach.

Employee of the Year Rhonda Stevens has worked for the Wakulla County School Board for 16 years. At the District Office, she has aided five different administrators.

Presently she serves as Administrative Assistant to Superintendent Bobby Pearce and Wakulla County School Board members Greg Thomas, Becky Cook, JoAnn Daniels, Verna Brock, and Melisa Taylor.

“Each of those supervisors would tell you that she was an important part of their success,” states Superintendent Pearce. “Mrs. Stevens is efficient and effective; however, the most important qualities she exhibits are a positive attitude, team building spirit, strong sense of integrity, and a caring way of communicating with others.”

Adds a previous supervisor, “Rhonda is one of those rare individuals who never speaks ill of people, and always gives people the benefit of the doubt. She is so humble that she would be surprised to know how many people in our school system look up to her as a role model because of her work ethic and her character.”

A product of Wakulla County schools, she attended Crawfordville Elementary School, Wakulla Middle School, and graduated from Wakulla High School.

Stevens keeps current through attending continuing education sessions at the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) Institute for Administrative Assistants/Secretaries.

She contributes her organizational and communication skills to everything from the Teacher of the Year program to School Board policies and documents to communicating with the public on the variety of issues that come through the Superintendent’s office.

Administrators district-wide selected her as the May 2016 Employee of the Month, and also voted for her as the 2016-2017 Employee of the Year.

School-Level Administrators of the Year Principal Michele Yeomans and Assistant Principal Shannon Smith of Riversprings Middle School also were selected by their fellow administrators throughout the school district.

Says Superintendent Pearce, “Michele is a great motivator of her faculty, staff, and students. She has helped create the ‘RMS Bear Family’ culture in which staff and students alike look out for each other and celebrate each other’s successes. She is a high-performing administrator leading a high-performing faculty and staff whose goal is to help their middle school students grow academically and emotionally.”

Yeomans also is a product of Wakulla County schools, attending Sopchoppy Elementary School, Wakulla Middle School, and graduating from Wakulla High School. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from Troy University and a Masters degree in Educational Leadership from the University of West Florida.

She enters her 20th year in education and her 5th year as principal of RMS. Her experience includes Alternative Education teacher at Wakulla Middle; PE teacher and head softball coach at Marianna High School; PE teacher at Shadeville Elementary; and 7 years as assistant principal at RMS.

“Hands down, my favorite part of the job is interacting with students and watching their success,” she notes. Yeomans constantly seeks to improve students’ opportunities for achievement such as stressing the importance of the RMS Reading Program and meeting the requirements for RMS to become an AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) National Demonstration School.

An experience that stands out to her is her relationship with Tori Hillmon, the daughter of one of her teachers. Yeomans explains, “Tori came to RMS in 6th grade as a student being treated for cancer, who very much wanted to be treated like any other ‘normal’ 6th grader. We worked hard to make that happen, even as she and her family traveled back and forth to the hospital. Toward the end of her 8th grade year, she lost her battle with cancer, and one of the hardest things I have had to do as principal was to lead my faculty, staff, and students through grieving for her while I was grieving myself.”

“Her compassion for children and adults alike makes her an effective leader,” says Superintendent Pearce.

Also awarded School-Level Administrator of the Year, RMS Assistant Principal Shannon Smith shares Yeomans’ views on leadership.

He attended Crawfordville Elementary, Wakulla Middle, and graduated from Wakulla High. After serving in the United States Marine Corps, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Florida State University and later went on to earn his Masters of Educational Leadership from American Intercontinental University.

Smith taught math at Wakulla High School, then moved to RMS to teach math and PE. He was named RMS Dean of Students in 2014 and now serves as Assistant Principal.

“In addition to his assigned duties, Mr. Smith also mentors numerous students and assists them with meeting their reading goals. He takes troubled students under his wing and tries to steer them onto the correct path in life. He also works with community wrestling programs for all ages from kindergarten through high school,” says Principal Yeomans.

A favorite part of his job is interacting with students and watching them develop in their middle school years. Smith says, “You never know what to expect when you engage a middle schooler in a conversation!”

Notes Superintendent Pearce, “Shannon does a great job of working as an administrative team member with Principal Yeomans. It’s obvious when you walk into RMS that students are listened to, encouraged, and motivated by the faculty and staff. It starts with the leadership at RMS fostering that atmosphere.”

Chief Financial Officer Randy Beach was voted District-Level Administrator of the Year by both school and district administrators who work with him every day.

“We really can’t accomplish anything without his financial expertise to keep us going,” says Superintendent Pearce. “He runs the Finance Department well and hires only the best personnel. People don’t realize that they are the silent, hard-working group that stays late to make sure people are paid on time and that any complicated financial issues are resolved.”

Beach graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and a Master of Accounting degree two years later.

He served as Assistant Superintendent for Business Services at Jefferson County School District from 1995 until 2001.

“Wakulla was fortunate to be able to hire him in 2001 as Assistant Finance Officer,” says Superintendent Pearce. “He’s not only smart as a whip, but also as ethical as they come.”

In 2004, Beach was named Chief Financial Officer and has since become a well-known name in public school finance for his level of financial expertise and consistently positive audits.

“Randy has taken on more and more responsibilities over the years,” notes Superintendent Pearce. “He advises me and the School Board members, keeping us in the loop at all times. We can trust him to give us the correct answers, explain them, and also make sure we are adhering to all local, state, and federal policies. He is spot-on with his projections on future student numbers, which is important as we plan what improvements we can make each year. I could not ask for a better CFO and team player.”

Stevens, Yeomans, Smith and Beach were awarded plaques and recognized at the August 21 School Board Meeting that was packed with supporters coming out to show their appreciation for jobs well done.