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News & Events

News & Events
2019-2020 DISTRICT NEWS

February 27, 2020

 

Five Wakulla County Odyssey of the Mind teams qualified for State competition after winning first place in their categories and divisions at Nature Coast Regional competition on February 22 held at Riversprings Middle School.

 

Teams from Crawfordville Elementary, Medart Elementary, Wakulla Middle, and two teams from Wakulla High School will compete on April 11 at the State Odyssey of the Mind event in Orlando.

 

Riversprings Middle School came in with second place in their division. The Shadeville Elementary team took on a Primary Problem open to grades kindergarten through 2, a division which is not eligible to compete on the State level. 

 

The Nature Coast Region consists of elementary, middle, and high school teams from Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla counties.  It is open to public, private and charter schools.

 

State winners go directly to the World Finals where over 800 teams from 33 U.S. states and 15 countries will be competing at Iowa State University May 27-30.

 

In two out of the past three years, Wakulla High School teams have made it to World Finals. 

 

Advancing teams include:

 

Crawfordville Elementary (grades 3-5), coached by teachers Kirsten Brazier and Heather Hatfield.  Members are Sophia Stolk, Laila Francis, Penelope Brazier, Tyler Steward, Corbin Ferreira, and Trinity Eugene.

 

Medart Elementary, coached by Melissa Hill and Sandra Whaley. Members are Brayden Britt, Nevaeh Cherry, Maddie McGuire, O’ren McMillan, Isaac Murray, Ava Pope, and Seth Ward.

 

Wakulla Middle, coached by teachers Nicholle Burke and Morgan Jackson. Team members are Peter Arbogast, Cole Randolph, Izzy Ayotte, Aaron Jones, Kyrin Hand, and Kyra Ferreira.

 

Wakulla High School, fielding two teams working on two different problems, both coached by teacher Susan Shiver.  One team consists of Abigail Gray, Abbi Hatfield, Ally Harden, Zoie Hill, “Jay” Jacob, and Travis Morgan.     

 

The second WHS team consists of Tristan Silcox, Chase Morgan, Farrah Bratcher and Kiera Cushard. 

 

Odyssey of the Mind is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1978 by Industrial Design professor Dr. Sam Micklus to encourage students to “think outside the box” in finding creative solutions. 

 

Problems include technical, mechanical, communication, structural, engineering, and performance aspects.  Teamwork is a key element to success.

 

Odyssey is for students in grades kindergarten through college, with scholarships offered at the higher levels.

 

“Best of luck in Orlando to our five teams that are advancing.  Odyssey of the Mind is one of many activities in the Wakulla County school system that encourages teamwork and creative problem solving, both great life skills to have,” says Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.  

by Jennifer Thaxton

February 23, 2020

 

Bay County teachers scheduled time on Thursday, February 20, to visit Riversprings Middle School and see their AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) program in action.  

Teachers observed classrooms, watched lessons and tutorials, spoke with AVID students and teachers, and toured the campus.  

They also got a sneak preview of a portion of the RMS Black History Month program, a presentation on the AVID trip to visit the Tuskegee Airmen, written and presented by AVID students Madison Gilley, Donelle Gay, and Bricyn Kennedy. 

“Riversprings has been an AVID National Demonstration School since 2015 and is one of only a handful of schools to be selected for that in Florida and in the nation,” says RMS Principal Michele Yeomans.

February 18, 2020

 

Wakulla County School Board honored February’s Teachers and Employee of the Month at the February 18 School Board Meeting.  

 

“We were pleased to recognize Gwen Fitzpatrick, Jessica Pichard, and Ingrid Funderburke for their dedication to Wakulla County Schools and to all of our students,” said Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce. 

 

GWEN FITZPATRICK

First grade teacher Gwen Fitzpatrick is Medart Elementary School’s February Teacher of the Month.  She has been teaching there for almost 22 years since 1998, a few years after MES was built.

 

Fitzpatrick was raised in Minnesota and graduated from the University of River Falls in Wisconsin where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Education.

 

She moved to Wakulla County because it had “a reputation for being an excellent school system and I was eager to work for them.  Additionally, I like all the outdoor recreation and wildlife the area has to offer.”

 

On teaching first graders, she states that she has to be very flexible.  “There are never two days that are the same!  Just when I think I have everything prepared for the day, there is an unexpected interruption like a fire drill or a student that has gotten ill in class.  First graders keep life full of fun and surprises!”

 

States MES Principal Stan Ward, “Mrs. Fitzpatrick is a shining star at Medart Elementary School, although she will be the first to tell you that she does not want to be in the spotlight.

 

“On any day, you can watch her delivering instruction, redirecting behavior, and adapting to whatever the school day brings, all with a calm demeanor that makes her students feel safe and loved.  I am grateful for the experience and knowledge she brings to the classroom each day.” 

 

JESSICA PICHARD

Jessica Pichard is Wakulla Middle School’s February Teacher of the Month.  Currently she is the Associate Dean of Student Services at WMS.

 

Pichard grew up in Tallahassee, graduating from Chiles High School.  She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Exceptional Student Education from FSU.  Now she is working towards a Specialist degree in Educational Leadership, also from FSU.

 

In her fifth year in education, she began as a 3rd grade inclusion teacher at Hartsfield Elementary in Tallahassee.  

 

After moving to Wakulla County, she was hired as a 1st and 3rd grade inclusion teacher at Crawfordville Elementary where she worked for three years.

 

“Mrs. Pichard’s passion for helping students and building positive relationships was evident when I watched her interact with my own son who was a 3rd grader on her hall at Crawfordville Elementary,” says WMS Principal Tolar Griffin.

 

“I was excited when she reached out to me and showed an interest in teaching middle school plus taking on the responsibilities of cheerleading coach.

 

“When an Associate Dean position came open at WMS, I hated to lose her in the classroom, but it was evident that she was the best fit for the position.  She builds a great rapport with students and can reach those who are in need.  Her knowledge of ESE and how to help both students and teachers with accommodations are showing great returns in the classrooms.

 

“We are truly fortunate to have Mrs. Pichard on our team,” adds Griffin.

 

INGRID FUNDERBURKE

Ingrid Funderburke, the Riversprings Middle School Food Services Manager, is the February Employee of the Month.  She is in her 13th year working there, starting in 2007 as a Food Service employee, then was named the RMS Food Service Manager in 2008.

 

Funderburke enjoys her job, including her relationship with her co-workers as they work side by side preparing and serving breakfast and lunch to the RMS students.

 

“I also enjoy seeing the students come through the lines of the cafeteria to get their meals. The interaction with them is very pleasant. This lights up my day, every day, knowing I am doing something for someone else. Feeding the kids of Wakulla is a great job to have.” 

 

Funderburke is also involved with promoting nutrition outside of her daily RMS job.  She is in her 4th year as Wakulla’s treasurer for the WCSB chapter of the Florida Nutrition Association.    

 

In addition, she states “Last year, I got the opportunity to participate in the Future Chefs Competition with elementary students. I had the pleasure of working with a student from Medart Elementary School. He came in 3rd place and it made me feel proud and happy that I had the chance to help. I am looking forward to participating in the competition again this year.”

 

Funderburke’s supervisor Lisa McCloudy, General Manager of WCSB Food Services and its Sodexo partnership, says, “Ingrid is an outstanding manager with the abilities to do anything put before her. She tends to challenge herself and strive for perfection. 

 

“Overall, Ms. Funderburke has grown over the last two years as we changed the way her kitchen operates, using the best practices to serve the students of Wakulla County.  Working with Ingrid is amazing. She operates her kitchen as if it was her own business.” 

February 13, 2020

by Kelly Dykes

 

Riversprings Middle School AVID students recently visited Florida State University

to see the “Rise Above: Red Tail Triumph Over Adversity” exhibit about the Tuskegee Airmen. 


The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps (AAC), a forerunner of the U.S. Air Force. Trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, they flew more than 15,000 individual missions in Europe and North Africa during World War II.

 

They included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.

 

RMS students also saw a B51-P bomber.

 

Students will be doing a follow up letter to Charles McGee, the oldest Tuskegee Airman, to thank him for sharing the story.  He was not there, but he was featured in the film that they saw. 

 

They also experienced college dining at FSU, since making college trips is part of the AVID program. 

 

AVID Site Team Coordinator and AVID teacher Kelly Dykes and 6th grade teacher Susan Lassiter chaperoned the trip.

AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) is a college readiness system for elementary through higher education that is designed to increase school-wide learning and performance. 

 

RMS is a National Demonstration AVID School, where other school personnel visit to view their school-wide AVID program and attend AVID trainings.

Riversprings Middle School hosts Nature Coast Regionals on February 22 

January 31, 2020

 

Seven Wakulla County public school Odyssey of the Mind teams are gearing up for their initial round of competition in this international creative problem-solving challenge.  

 

Nature Coast Regional competition will be held at Riversprings Middle School on February 22.  The public is invited to attend.

 

The Nature Coast Region consists of elementary, middle, and high school teams from Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla counties.  It is open to public, private and charter schools.

 

Qualifying Regional teams will then go on to State competition in Orlando on April 11.  Many Wakulla teams have qualified for State in the past nine years of having Odyssey in Wakulla.

 

State winners go directly to the World Finals where over 800 teams from 33 U.S. states and 15 countries will be competing at Iowa State University May 27-30.

 

In two out of the past three years, Wakulla High School teams have made it to World Finals. 

 

Wakulla teams have been designing, building, writing and practicing since the beginning of this school year.

 

Crawfordville Elementary (grades 3-5) is coached by teachers Kirsten Brazier and Heather Hatfield.  Members are Sophia Stolk, Laila Francis, P.J. Brazier, Tyler Steward, Corbin Ferreira, Trinity Eugene, and Sylvia Boykin.

 

Medart Elementary is coached by Melissa Hill and Sandra Whaley. Members are Brayden Britt, Nevaeh Cherry, Maddie McGuire, O’ren McMillan, Isaac Murray, Ava Pope, and Seth Ward.

 

Shadeville Elementary is coached by teachers Kerry Adams and Starla Perry. Team members are Kendyl Byrd, Kaeden Kilgore, Michael Nall, Kate Weaver, Bowen Wells, Jackson Yarbrough, and Edison Zak.

 

Riversprings Middle is coached by teachers Jessica Yarbrough and James Daniels.  Team members are Emil Bendeck, Maddie Callaghan, Genna Dietrich, Avary Duncan, Sophia Kamal, Jordan Rosier, and Blakley Wright.

 

Wakulla Middle is coached by teachers Nicholle Burke and Morgan Jackson. Team members are Peter Arbogast, Cole Randolph, Izzy Ayotte, Adam Winston, Aaron Jones, Kyrin Hand, and Kyra Ferreira.

 

Wakulla High School is fielding two teams working on two different problems, both coached by teacher Susan Shiver.  One team consists of Abigail Gray, Abbi Hatfield, Ally Harden, Zoie Hill, “Jay” Jacob, and Travis Morgan.     

 

The second WHS team consists of Tristan Silcox, Chase Morgan, Farrah Bratcher and Kiera Cushard. 

 

Odyssey of the Mind is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1978 by Industrial Design professor Dr. Sam Micklus to encourage students to “think outside the box” in finding creative solutions. 

 

Problems include technical, mechanical, communication, structural, engineering, and performance aspects.  Teamwork is a key element to success.

 

Odyssey is for students in grades kindergarten through college, with scholarships offered at the higher levels.

 

“Creative problem solving, plus learning to work within a team, are skills that Odyssey of the Mind encourages. 

 

“There are many opportunities in the Wakulla County school system such as sports, music, drama, business, NJROTC, and Odyssey that create opportunities for our students to be part of a team.  Good luck to all our Wakulla teams at Odyssey Regionals,” says Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

Photo left to right:  Tonia Gay, Bonnie Kyle, Jeff Johnson, CES Principal Louis Hernandez, Superintendent Bobby Pearce

 

January 23, 2020

 

Crawfordville Elementary School recently won the second place prize of $3,000 in the regional Pepsi Recycling Contest.

 

Pepsi offered prizes of $6,000 for first place, $3,000 for second place, $1,000 for third place, and $200 to all participating public schools in Wakulla, Leon, Gadsden, Franklin, and Liberty counties.

 

“Ms. Bonny Kyle, Ms. Tonia Gay and Mr. Jeff Johnson made it possible with their hard work as well as all of the students, parents and family members who brought in their recycling for us.  

 

“CES recycled 206 barrels of plastic bottles over the nearly 12 weeks of the program,” said Crawfordville Elementary School Principal Louis Hernandez.

 

Pepsi provided the barrels to collect the recycling from October 10 through December 20, 2019.

 

“We want to help public schools make money by recycling plastic bottles while helping Mother Earth,” stated the Pepsi guidelines.

January 20, 2020

 

Wakulla High School senior Nina Prince has been accepted to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the 2020-2021 school year.

 

The U.S. Air Force Academy is a prestigious school to be accepted to, with last year’s average of the incoming freshmen class at a 3.88 unweighted high school grade point average.

 

Prince has maintained a perfect 4.0 unweighted grade point average throughout high school, taking the most difficult classes offered, such as Advanced Placement Calculus, AP Biology, and AP Psychology.

 

Plus, she has scored in the 98th percentile on the ACT (American College Test), a common college entrance exam. 

 

Prince is also a member of the WHS Medical Academy.

 

“We wish Nina all the best if she chooses the U.S. Air Force Academy or wherever she attends.  Any college would be lucky to have her,” said WHS Principal Mike Barwick.

January 21, 2020

 

Wakulla County School Board honored January’s Teachers and Employee of the Month at the January 21 School Board Meeting.  

 

“We were pleased to recognize Jessica Mapes, Elizabeth Williamson and Tenaya Jones as the dedicated people they are in the different areas of our school system that they work in,” said Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce. 

 

JESSICA MAPES

Jessica Mapes is Wakulla High School’s January Teacher of the Month.  Currently she is an Associate Dean and Test Coordinator at WHS.  

 

Mapes is in her 15th year of teaching, beginning at Wakulla Middle School in 2005 as a Technology and Reading teacher.  Since 2014, she has worked at Wakulla High School as a Business Education teacher and now is in her current job in WHS Student Services working to counsel students as an Associate Dean.

 

A Wakulla County native, Mapes attended Sopchoppy Elementary, Wakulla Middle School, and graduated from Wakulla High School.

 

She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Augusta State University and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from American College of Education.

 

“I was working as a Marketing Director in Gainesville when I realized my favorite part of the job was training employees.  I transferred those business skills into teaching them at WMS and WHS.

 

“The transition from the classroom to Student Services has allowed me to continue to interact with my students and assist them in making plans for their future, advocating for themselves, and teaching problem-solving skills.

 

“Being a liaison between students, teachers, parents and administration allows me to keep the lines of communication open to ensure a positive high school experience,” says Mapes.

 

She currently is the WHS Future Business Leaders of America sponsor, the WHS Technology Support Specialist, and a Mentor Teacher.  She also coached softball, volleyball, and soccer for multiple years. 

 

“From teacher to coach to test coordinator to associate dean, there has been no position in which Mrs. Mapes did not shine.  She is the ultimate multi-tasker and problem solver with an efficiency that makes her work seem effortless. 

 

“The fact that she does all of this with a smile is one of the many reasons she is being honored,” says WHS Principal Mike Barwick. 

 

ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON

Shadeville Elementary School’s Media Specialist Elizabeth Williamson is also a January Teacher of the Month.  

 

In her first year as Shadeville’s Media Specialist, she previously taught at Medart Elementary for four years as a 3rd and 4th grade teacher, and was an English Language Arts middle school teacher for five years before coming to Wakulla County Schools.

 

Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Southern Indiana and a master’s degree in Teaching from Oakland City University, also in Indiana.

 

“I love working with all of the students at Shadeville.  Becoming a Media Specialist has allowed me to get to know every child at our school.  The personal connections I make are what brightens every day.

 

“As a Media Specialist, the more I know about each child, the more I can help him or her find books that speak to each one on his or her level, encouraging them to be lifelong readers,” notes Williamson.

 

“Mrs. Williamson has done an amazing job this year as Shadeville’s Media Center Specialist.  She has taken on this new role with excitement and a passion for helping the students of Shadeville,” says SES Principal Nick Weaver.

 

TENAYA JONES

Tenaya Jones of the District Office Information Technology Department is the January Employee of the Month.

 

Jones earned an Associate of Arts degree from Tallahassee Community College and graduated from FSU with a bachelor’s degree.  She then went back to TCC to earn even more Technology certifications there.  

 

Jones is in her 10th year working as a Systems and Electronics Technician for Wakulla County School District.  Prior to that, she worked for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement from 2004 until 2010.

 

“Helping the teachers and staffs at every school is always enjoyable.  Working with computers and technology is fun to me.  It is forever changing, so many of our teachers, staffs, and students need help.  That need for assistance is what I’m here for,” Jones says.

 

“Tenaya is an outstanding member of the Technology team.  She already had a wealth of knowledge and experience when she started here in 2014,” says Director of Information Technology Tim Stephens.

 

“She is tenacious in fulfilling her duties and only comes to me when she has exhausted all other avenues of fixing something.

 

“Tenaya interacts with everyone in a polite and professional manner.  She has a way of brightening your day with her demeanor and laugh.  She shows up every day ready to work, and is always available to lend a helping hand,” adds Stephens.

Special to the News

January 17, 2020

 

The 2020 Florida Teacher of the Year visited the faculty at Shadeville Elementary on January 15 and met with Wakulla County’s Teacher of the Year from last year, Shadeville’s Judy Paris. 

Dr. Dre Graham is from Hillsborough County School District where he teaches music and is the band director at King’s High School. 

The Florida Department of Education considers him the 2020 Florida Teacher of the Year because his reign runs through the 2019-2020 school year.   

Dr. Graham considers teachers to be “world changers” and has made it his goal to visit every district winner in the state. 

His visit to Wakulla’s 2018-2019 district winner Judy Paris marked 49 out of the 74 visits he has scheduled. 

Dr. Graham invited members of DOE to join him on his visits so they could better understand the challenges teachers face. 

He spoke with Shadeville’s teachers about the importance of support from each other, administrators, and the community. 

The SES faculty was in agreement and spoke about the support they receive in Wakulla. 

Katrina Roddenberry, the 2019-2020 school year Wakulla County Teacher of the Year from Wakulla Middle School, is currently competing for the title of Florida’s 2021 Teacher of the Year.  

The five finalists from 74 district winners will be announced in the spring, and the state winner will be announced in July.

Medart Elementary School Spelling Bee winners fourth grader Braeden Pigott (left) and runner-up fifth grader Hadley Brown.

 

Braeden will go on to compete in the District Spelling Bee.

Photo left to right: MES Principal Stan Ward, Media Specialist Lauren Baker, and Superintendent Bobby Pearce

 

January 17, 2020

 

Medart Elementary is the first public school in Wakulla County to purchase a book vending machine.

 

“Our students can now earn tokens in multiple ways to ‘purchase’ a book from the machine.

 

“Some of the ways include tokens for an academic success, an Accelerated Reader achievement, a behavior reward, and more,” said MES Principal Stan Ward. 

 

The vending machine was purchased through MES fundraising efforts.  Books for the machine were purchased with support from the MES School Advisory Council to promote reading school-wide.

 

“Helping with the efforts to get this fun and educational vending machine going were also MES Media Specialist Lauren Baker and Assistant Principal Katherine Spivey, who both know the improvements in all subjects for students when they become more proficient in reading,” noted Ward.

 

Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce was on hand at Medart for the unveiling of the machine.

 

“Anything that encourages our students to improve their reading skills is worth the effort,” added Superintendent Pearce. 

January 16, 2020

 

Wakulla High School’s Class of 2019 exceeded Florida’s graduation rate according to statistics recently released by the Florida Department of Education.  

 

WHS graduated 94.5 percent of its seniors within four years, as compared to the state rate of 86.9 percent. 

 

The entire Wakulla School District 2019 graduation rate of 91.6 percent includes students in alternative programs at Wakulla Institute, WCSB Virtual School, and the WCSB Alternative High School program.  This 91.6 percent Wakulla district rate improved over the 2018 Wakulla district rate of 90.1 percent graduating on time. 

 

“Of the 67 counties in Florida, Wakulla County School District was in the top 10 districts for 2019 graduation rates, surpassed only by Clay, Collier, Columbia, Lafayette, Leon, Nassau, St. Johns, Seminole, and Suwanee public school districts.

 

“Over the past six years, as a district we’ve gone from a 75.1 percent graduation rate to 91.6 percent using the Federal Graduation Rate model required of all public schools.  

 

“To see Wakulla’s graduation rate rank in the top ten of Florida’s 67 public school districts speaks to the dedication of our students, teachers, administrators and parents,” said Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

The graduation rate used by Florida is a uniform Federal Graduation Rate that counts only students who graduate with a standard diploma within four years of starting high school. 

 

Federal graduation rates also dig into specific subgroup data as defined by the U.S. Department of Education.  

 

For example, Wakulla County’s students with disabilities graduated at 94.6 percent compared to the state’s average of 80.6 percent.

 

Wakulla County’s economically disadvantaged subgroup graduated at 86.3 percent compared to Florida’s economically disadvantaged rate of 82.9 percent. 

 

“We have been building a whole system of support for struggling students with programs such as Wakulla Institute, Wakulla’s Virtual School and performance-based options so that there is an avenue for every student to earn a standard high school diploma,” noted Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy.

 

“I congratulate all of our 2019 graduates who worked hard to earn their diplomas, and the teachers and parents who supported them along the way,” added Superintendent Pearce.

January 9, 2020 

 

Wakulla County School Board announced information on how to apply for a different school in the Wakulla School District than the one a child is zoned for in the 2020-2021 school year. 


The deadline to turn in applications is March 6, 2020. 


Applications and information on turning them in can be found on the Wakulla County School District website under Parental Choice Information on the main page under Quick Links. 


Out of Zone requirements include capacity restrictions at requested schools.  Wakulla School District transportation is not provided for students attending schools outside of their assigned zones. 

Photo left to right: Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy, 2020 District Teacher of the Year Katrina Roddenberry, Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce

Photo by Rhonda Stevens

 

December 26, 2019

 

Katrina Roddenberry of Wakulla Middle School was announced by Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce as the 2020 Wakulla County Teacher of the Year. 

 

WMS Principal Tolar Griffin, Assistant Principal Amy Bryan, plus students and colleagues were on hand to cheer for Roddenberry as she received flowers and balloons from Superintendent Pearce and Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy.

 

“Mrs. Roddenberry is a great example of someone who entered teaching after a successful career in another area.  Her 8 years of experience as a Fingerprint Analyst and Senior Criminal Justice Information Technician for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement fostered her love of science.  

 

“Fortunately for Wakulla, she has taken her interest in science and blended it with her love of teaching others.  Her enthusiasm for learning is contagious,” says WMS Principal Tolar Griffin.

 

Roddenberry is in her third year teaching middle school Science and high school credit Integrated Science and Integrated Science Honors to 8th graders at WMS.  

 

She is in her 12th year of teaching, with her first 9 years teaching grades 3 and 5 at Riversink Elementary School.  

 

“It is rewarding to see students motivated by authentic science experiments and researching on their own about careers in science fields,” says Roddenberry.  She strives to spark their interest in science, and one aspect of that interest has resulted in measurable gains.

 

“Over a three year period, Wakulla Middle School’s average science proficiency on the Florida Science Assessment given in grade 8 has increased by 23 percent and we are now 21 percent above the state average.

 

“I believe this increase is due in large part to a collaborative effort on the part of the 8th grade science teachers at WMS to focus on standards-based instruction with a hands-on approach to learning.  I am fortunate to be a part of a stellar team of educators who work together to do everything in our power to ensure our students’ success,” notes Roddenberry.

 

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Flagler College, she added certifications in ESE (Exceptional Student Education), Middle Grades Integrated, and General Science for grades 6 through 9.  

 

Roddenberry also earned endorsements in Gifted Education; Reading; and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), for all grades K through 12.

 

She then went on to earn a master’s degree from American College of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with Concentration in Teaching Science.  She is also an Adjunct Professor at Flagler College in Tallahassee. 

 

In addition to teaching, Roddenberry is a NASA Space Foundation Teacher Liaison, on the Space Educators Expedition Crew, is in the National Science Teachers Association and the Florida Association of Science Teachers, and is the WMS Space Academy Field Trip Coordinator.

 

She also created and sponsors the new WMS STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Club, has been an Odyssey of the Mind coach, Fellowship of Christian Athletes co-sponsor, and a Teacher Coach.

 

With all of her varied experiences and enthusiasm for fostering a love of science in her students, Roddenberry says, “The ultimate measure of my success as a science teacher is when my students leave my classroom with a strong foundational knowledge of science concepts and a renewed curiosity and love of learning about the world around them.”

 

Roddenberry will now go on to compete with the other 71 District Teachers of the Year for a Top Five Finalists spot.  In July, all school districts’ Teachers of the Year will be honored at the Florida Department of Education program in Orlando where the Florida Teacher of the Year will be announced.

 

The other seven outstanding School-Level Teachers of the Year for 2020 are: Tina Fleming for Wakulla Education Center Pre-K; Heather Hatfield for Crawfordville Elementary; Ginni Brown for Medart Elementary; Mari Kimbrel for Riversink Elementary; Sarojanie Samlal for Shadeville Elementary; Jessica Wells for Riversprings Middle; and Victoria Pope for Wakulla High School.

 

These representatives and all of Wakulla County public school teachers will be honored at a breakfast on Monday, March 23 at 8:00 a.m. at Crawfordville Elementary School.  

 

Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy and the Instructional Services Department coordinate the Teacher of the Year Program and Breakfast.

 

“We wish Mrs. Roddenberry the best in state competition, but we know that being Wakulla’s District Teacher of the Year is a great accomplishment because we have so many excellent teachers here,” concludes Superintendent Pearce.

December 16, 2019

 

“The Wakulla County School Board was pleased to honor December’s Teachers of the Month Holly Harden, Vicki Strickland and Toyia Williams, along with December’s Employee of the Month Cindy Pandolfi and November’s Employee of the Month Teri Morrison at the December 16 School Board Meeting,” said Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

 HOLLY HARDEN 

Holly Harden was selected as December Teacher of the Month by the District Instructional Services Department for her work as an Instructional Coach.  

 

In her 24th year of teaching, she has taught Grades 2, 3 and 4 in Manatee County for 10 years; Grades 3 and 4 at Crawfordville Elementary for 10 years; and has been in the position of Instructional Coach for the past 4 years.

 

Harden graduated from Palmetto High School in Manatee County and earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Troy State University.

 

“In my current position as an Instructional Coach, not only do I get to see students learn and grow, but I also get to watch my colleagues as they learn and grow in this profession.  It warms my heart when a teacher says ‘I tried what you shared and it worked!’ says Harden.

 

She is a former Odyssey of the Mind coach and current Odyssey Board Member, is on the WCSB Professional Development Council, is a Clinical Educator, and is on the Item Review Committee for the Florida Standards Assessment on English Language Arts.

 

“Holly has the ability to analyze data, assess the problem, and create a solution to show teacher and student success. She has a tremendous amount of knowledge of the standards and curriculum, not only in Reading, but across the elementary curriculum.  We are lucky to have her on our team,” says her supervisor, Curriculum Coordinator Lori Sandgren.

 

VICKI STRICKLAND

Vicki Strickland of Riversink Elementary School was selected by her peers as their December Teacher of the Month.  She has over 40 years of experience working with children, teens, and adults, all with disabilities.

 

Strickland earned a bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Student Education from the University of Tennessee and a master’s degree in Education from FAMU.

 

After teaching for 8 years in Louisiana, she taught ESE classes at Wakulla High School for 10 years, then became an ESE Pre-K teacher at Sopchoppy for 2 years and next taught at Sopchoppy Education Center for 6 years.  She then was an ESE Transition/Employment Specialist at WHS for 11 years before moving to her current position at Riversink Elementary for the past 3 years as teacher for the EBD (Emotional Behavior Disorders) program.

 

“I love the challenge of working with students struggling with behavior or learning disabilities.   Seeing the pride in their eyes when they achieve success and sharing their joy has kept me going for 40 years,” says Strickland.

 

“Vicki has a strong will to get things done, a creative mind to alter her surroundings, and a compassionate heart to see the positive in others,” adds Riversink Principal Simeon Nelson.

 

TOYIA WILLIAMS

Toyia Williams was selected as December Teacher of the Month from Pre-K at Wakulla Education Center.  She is in her 14th year as a Pre-K teacher, after serving one year as a Pre-K paraprofessional and two as a substitute teacher.

 

“I was born and raised in Wakulla County and am a product of this great educational system, attending Shadeville Elementary, Wakulla Middle, and graduating from Wakulla High School.  I graduated from FAMU with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Education.  I enjoyed my classroom internship so much that I fell in love with teaching,” says Williams.

 

Currently, she is also a School Advisory Council member, WCTA Building Representative, Mentor to new teachers, and is on the Pre-K Curriculum Team.

 

“Toyia has served in several leadership capacities, plus she expands her skills such as taking the Reading Endorsement classes.  She regularly communicates with parents and collaborates with other teachers. With her students, she is playful, but also firm and loving. I am thankful for her dedication and service,” says Pre-K Principal Laura Kelley.

 

CINDY PANDOLFI

Cindy Pandolfi of Shadeville Elementary School was selected as December Employee of the Month.  She has worked at Shadeville for 30 years, spending the first 18 as a Teacher Assistant/Paraprofessional and is now in her 12th year as the School Secretary.

 

She attended Sopchoppy Elementary School for 1st through 6th grade, then graduated from Wakulla High School, attending there from 7th to 12th grade. 

 

A beloved fixture at Shadeville, Pandolfi has helped students, parents, administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, and any other people who have walked through the doors of SES over the years.  She states, “I enjoy the people I work with - the teachers, office staff, parents.  I like what I do.”

 

Pandolfi was also the Shadeville Volunteer Coordinator for 9 years.

 

“I can count on her for anything and she always has the best interest of the school in mind. She is knowledgeable about just about every aspect of the school and has helped me learn so much about Shadeville.  Mrs. Pandolfi is definitely a team player and has helped me learn about what goes into making a positive school culture,” says SES Principal Nick Weaver.

 

TERI MORRISON

Teri Morrison was selected by her peers in Transportation at the WCSB Bus Garage for November Employee of the Month.  She has been a bus driver for 17 years.

 

Growing up in Wakulla County, she attended Shadeville Elementary, Wakulla Middle School, and graduated from Wakulla High School.

 

“Being able to see those smiling faces every morning, plus knowing I may be that one person who makes a difference in a child’s life that day is what is enjoyable about my job,” Morrison says.

 

In addition to her regular routes, she also has done the Adults with Disabilities bus run, plus has done the midday run at Wakulla Institute, and helps in the Transportation Office when needed.

 

“Mrs. Morrison is a dedicated, dependable and energetic school bus driver.  She is committed to student safety and pays close attention to what is happening on her bus.  Every time I have asked for her help in filling in for others, she has agreed to help.  Her positive and helpful energy makes a positive impact on transportation every day,” says Director of Transportation Pat Jones.

December 19, 2019

 

Starting in 6th grade and following through 8th grade, Wakulla Middle School teachers try to bring science alive for their students.

 

“One of the best ways for our students to understand science is to experience it first-hand.  That’s why field trips and science competitions are so important,” says WMS 6th  grade science teacher Charlotte Hoover.

 

So far this school year, Hoover coordinated a field trip to Wakulla Springs for Florida’s LIFE (Learning in Florida’s Environment) Program.

 

“The LIFE Program is a model for science-based environmental education on public conservation lands.  Each program represents a partnership between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and a school district to bring students outdoors to learn science,” states a LIFE representative.

The goal with each LIFE Program is to increase student awareness of how science affects their daily lives. Plus, it gives teachers opportunities for professional development in science education.

The LIFE Program is not a specific curriculum.  Florida’s Department of Education handles the curriculum standards, but the LIFE Program creates a process for reinforcing and enriching the existing curriculum through hands-on field labs led by science teachers, scientists, and land/resource managers.

 

Also, Hoover helped organize the WMS Science Fair in November, which had 112 entries.

 

“In addition, 8th grade WMS science teachers Melissa Martin and Katrina Roddenberry immerse their students in real world scientific problems such as the NASA Challenges. Mrs. Roddenberry also started a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Club at WMS this year,” adds WMS Principal Tolar Griffin.

 

“From Pre-K through Grade 12, our science teachers are hard at work at all of our schools showing their students how science affects their everyday lives.  All career preparation is important, but our teachers understand that the more prepared our students are in the area of science, the more likely they will be to pursue careers that involve science, which is where many of the current and future jobs are.  

 

“It is our mission to show students what is involved in high-demand, high-skill, high-wage careers.  Giving students a solid foundation in science is one way to access some of those careers, ” states Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce. 

December 19, 2019

 

The “Bucking Bookworms”, a newly created Medart Elementary School book club, is now drawing in students from kindergarten through 5th grade. 

 

Medart Assistant Principal Katherine Spivey initiated the club with the support of several teachers, including Glenda Hance, Carrie Pigott, Michele Lawhon, Melissa Jackman, and Lauren Baker.

 

“We created the club to encourage students to read outside of the classroom, to provide support to students who wanted someone to read with, and to allow students to celebrate reading with their peers,” says Spivey.

 

The “Bucking Bookworms” traveled to Tallahassee on Saturday, December 7 to hear author Kate DiCamillo speak. 

 

MES 5th grade teacher Melissa Jackman received a $500 Envision Grant and was able to purchase a book for each student to have DiCamillo sign as she introduced her new book, Beverly, Right Here.

 

Midtown Reader sponsored the event and also waived the fee for Medart students to enter. The event was held at Maclay Middle School. 

 

Midtown Reader is Tallahassee's only general-subject, independent bookstore selling new books. It has a regular variety of literary events and related cultural programming, plus partners with Tallahassee's writing scene, including Florida State University's Graduate Creative Writing Program, Florida A & M University, and Tallahassee Community College, as well as local organizations like The Tallahassee Writers Association. 

 

In addition, local storyteller Linda Schuyler Ford visited the “Bucking Bookworms” club before the holidays to recite Victorian Christmas stories. 

 

“Also, our Book Vending Machine was recently revealed with Superintendent Pearce, Principal Ward and Mrs. Baker in attendance,” adds Spivey.  

 

“This club is a great opportunity to instill a love of reading in our students. Reading for fun is a positive way to improve reading skills in the classroom, and also introduces students to a wide range of information. I appreciate Ms. Spivey and our Medart teachers who are taking an active role in this after school program,” says Medart Principal Stan Ward.

 

The Medart “Bucking Bookworms” book club meets Thursdays after school with transportation provided for all members. Students interested in joining the “Bucking Bookworms” can contact Medart Assistant Principal Spivey at 850-962-4881 or at Katherine.spivey@wcsb.us.

December 13, 2019

 

Seven Wakulla County public school Odyssey of the Mind teams are gearing up for their initial round of competition in this international creative problem-solving challenge that saw the first Wakulla team go to the World Finals three years ago, and the second team go to World Finals last year. 

Fielding teams this year are Crawfordville Elementary, Medart Elementary, Shadeville Elementary, Riversprings Middle, Wakulla Middle, and Wakulla High, which is fielding two teams.

 

Teams have been designing, building, writing and practicing since the beginning of this school year.

 

Competition starts at the Regional level on February 22, 2020 at RMS. 

 

“I applaud Riversprings Middle School for volunteering to host the Nature Coast Florida Region created last year to have our students compete closer to home than Crestview, which our teams traveled to for 7 years before RMS stepped up to form a closer region. 

 

“This second year of the Nature Coast Regional Tournament will consist of teams from Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla counties,” says Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

Qualifying teams from Regionals then go on to State competition in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center on April 11.  

 

State winners go directly to the World Finals where over 800 teams from 33 U.S. states and 15 countries will be competing at Iowa State University May 27-30.

 

A Wakulla High School team has made it to the World Finals two out of the past three years.  Former WHS coaches Nick Weaver and Christopher Stearns from each year agree, “It was an awesome cultural experience for our students.”

 

Odyssey of the Mind is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1978 by Industrial Design professor Dr. Sam Micklus to encourage students to “think outside the box” in finding creative solutions. 

 

Problems include technical, mechanical, communication, structural, engineering, and performance aspects.  Teamwork is a key element to success.

 

Odyssey is for students in grades kindergarten through college, with scholarships offered at the higher levels.

 

Students work in teams of no more than 7 all school year to solve one of five “Long Term Problems”, and present their solution at the Regional competition. Student teams also have limited time to solve a “Spontaneous Problem”, one they have never seen before. 

 

On November 16, RMS hosted hundreds of students, coaches, and volunteers from the Nature Coast teams so they could practice their spontaneous thinking skills. Students prepared by working on prior years’ “Spontaneous Problems”. 

 

Just 9 years ago, Wakulla was introduced to Odyssey of the Mind by one coach fielding one elementary team. Now six of the Wakulla public schools participate, with WHS fielding two teams.

 

“Creative problem solving, plus learning to work within a team, are skills we want our students to be proficient in by the time they graduate. Participating in Odyssey of the Mind is a great example of one of many creative opportunities offered in Wakulla County Schools,” adds Superintendent Pearce.

December 12, 2019

 

Students in the Wakulla County School District Adults with Disabilities program held a successful Holiday Craft Bazaar on November 21.  Personnel and students from many of the Wakulla County schools came to shop at the Legacy Café and Boutique located on the District Office campus at 126 High Drive in Crawfordville.

 

There are still homemade gifts to buy until December 19. 

 

Students with disabilities who are nearing high school graduation or who have already graduated are encouraged to join the WCSB Adults with Disabilities program, where they learn how to run a restaurant, which developed into the successful Legacy Café.  

 

“Adding the Legacy Boutique to show and sell their creations gives our students yet another way to learn employability skills, which is the central theme of the program.   We encourage their entrepreneurship.

 

“Several young adults in the program have even put their wares on Etsy, the global online marketplace where people make, sell, buy, and collect unique items,” says educator Kim Dutton, who partners with Joanne Hernandez to run the program.

“Students themselves have created every item offered in the boutique, ranging from various types of soap, sugar scrub, and wooden soap dishes to handcrafted jewelry and stamped spoons, plus many holiday gifts.  Their imaginations and skills were in full use as they created items for the Holiday Craft Bazaar,” adds Hernandez. 

 

“Our students and adults with disabilities continue to reach new heights due to the efforts of many educators over the years. For our students to have very real experiences in this program helps pave the way for their futures.  

 

“Our teachers and paraprofessionals are to be commended for all the work they put into the Adults with Disabilities program.  When students may have been told they could not do or be or make something, there is a consistent encouragement heard of ‘Yes you can’ in this program and in all of our ESE (Exceptional Student Education) programs,” notes Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

For more information about the Legacy Café and Boutique, see the link on the Wakulla County School District website under Legacy Café.

Standing left to right: Superintendent Bobby Pearce, Katrina Roddenberry, Tina Fleming, Mari Kimbrel, Ginni Brown, Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy 

Seated left to right: Ro Samlal, Jessica Wells, Tori Pope, Heather Hatfield

 

December 4, 2019

 

Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce recently announced the 2020 Wakulla County School-Level Teachers of the Year.  Surprising the teachers with flowers, candy, and balloons, students cheered as he entered each classroom to present the honor to their teacher.

 

The eight Teachers of the Year for 2020 are: Tina Fleming for Wakulla Education Center Pre-K; Heather Hatfield for Crawfordville Elementary; Ginni Brown for Medart Elementary; Mari Kimbrel for Riversink Elementary; Sarojanie Samlal for Shadeville Elementary; Jessica Wells for Riversprings Middle; Katrina Roddenberry for Wakulla Middle; and Victoria Pope for Wakulla High School.

 

Tina Fleming of Wakulla Education Center Pre-Kindergarten has been working with the youngest Wakulla students for 10 years, first as a paraprofessional, then as a teacher for the last 6 years.  She also teaches art during her summers.

 

Fleming earned a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education to teach grades Pre-K through 3 and is in the process of earning the Florida Reading Endorsement for grades K through 12.

 

“Effective teaching requires the creation of a positive learning environment that encourages student creativity and critical thinking which enables them to reach their full potential through intellectual and social growth and development,” says Fleming.

 

She is also a Mentor Teacher to new teachers, the Project Learning Tree Coordinator for Pre-K, and was named Teacher of the Month for Pre-K in 2014. 

 

Heather Hatfield of Crawfordville Elementary has been teaching for 15 years. Currently she is a 4th grade teacher, but has experience teaching all subjects in grades 3 through 5 with her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. 

 

“Every child really wants to learn, even if they don’t seem like they want to.  In my experience it is especially important for the child to have self-confidence.  Once they feel they can do it and start getting some things right, they will eventually want to work harder, not only for me, but for themselves,” Hatfield says.

 

Sharing her experience, Hatfield is a Teacher Coach, serves on the School Advisory Council as Technology Chair, and oversees the CES website.  She is also a co-coach for the CES Odyssey of the Mind team and has been through AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) training.

 

In the summer of 2019, she served on the Department of Education Florida Standards Assessment English Language Arts Rubric Validation Committee for grades 3 through 5.

 

Ginni Brown teaches Kindergarten at Medart Elementary School.  She has 14 years of teaching experience, using her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education plus Endorsements in Reading and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

 

“I feel it is a teacher’s job to help students become responsible individuals and realize that anything is possible with hard work and determination.  My goal is to challenge my students daily so they know what it feels like to struggle, question, try again, work hard and then succeed!  I want them to feel safe enough to make mistakes and ask questions,” notes Brown.

 

Professional Development she has attended include Leader in Me, Clinical Educator, Mentor/Peer Educator, and Technology in the Classroom.

 

Brown’s leadership titles include Supervising Teacher for Practicum Students, Mentor Teacher to new teachers, and 8 years as Grade Level Chair. She was selected as Riversink Teacher of the Month in 2013 and Medart Teacher of the Month in 2017.

 

Mari Kimbrel of Riversink Elementary has been teaching for 13 years.  She has taught 1st, 3rd and 4th grades, and is currently teaching 5th grade.

 

Kimbrel holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and is certified in ESOL and ESE (Exceptional Student Education) grades K through 12.  She graduated Summa Cum Laude, earning the Flagler College Academic Achievement Award in Elementary Education.

 

“I want my students to be encouraged in tackling new and challenging standards with a ‘growth mindset’ approach.  Engaging students in hands-on activities and teaching lessons which relate to everyday life inspires students to own their learning and develops life-long learners,” says Kimbrel.

 

She is also a 5th grade Inclusion Teacher, sponsors the Tropicana Speech Contest, and heads the RES Newspaper Staff.

 

Sarojanie Samlal of Shadeville Elementary has been teaching for 3 years as an ESE teacher for children in grades 3 through 5.  Before earning her teaching degree, Samlal was an ESE paraprofessional for over 10 years.

 

Samlal earned dual bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education grades K through 6 and in ESE grades K-12.  Currently she is working on a master’s degree in Special Education: Autism Endorsement to be completed in 2020.

 

“Effective teaching constitutes knowing your students as individuals and listening to not just their words, but also learning their body language.  It is being so in tune with their thought process and their needs that you are able to meet them where they are and help them grow,” says Samlal.

 

She is a Mentor to new teachers, school-level Special Olympics Coordinator, and part of the SES Recycle Team.  In addition, Samlal was recognized as WCSB Employee of the Month and Employee of the Year when she was a paraprofessional.

 

Jessica Wells is currently a 6th grade ELA (English Language Arts) teacher at Riversprings Middle School. In addition, she has taught 6th grade Math and History, plus 8th grade Pre-Algebra and Critical Thinking.  She has been teaching for 10 years and is also the RMS Athletic Director.

 

Wells earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, adding certifications in Middle Grades Integrated and Gifted Education.  She also holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership.

 

“My philosophy for effective teaching follows the guidelines of ‘not every student learns the same way, but every student can learn.’ Building a rapport with students allows them to open up and develop a line of trust.  

 

“A successful teacher presents clear expectations for students, earning their respect, and as a result, students will strive to be successful and experience newfound potential,” states Wells.

 

She is also the RMS Wellness Coordinator, a Lead Teacher and Teacher Coach at RMS, and organizes school-wide running competitions.   

 

Katrina Roddenberry is in her third year teaching middle school Science and high school credit Integrated Science to 8th graders at Wakulla Middle School.  She is in her 12th year of teaching.

 

Roddenberry earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, then went on to earn a master’s degree in in Curriculum and Instruction with Concentration in Teaching Science.  She is also an Adjunct Professor at Flagler College in Tallahassee.

 

“I believe that problem solving is one of the most important skills I can teach my students.  To provide a safe environment for learning problem solving strategies, I ensure that my students know it is alright to make mistakes and to struggle through solving problems because that is how we learn best.  

 

“I also believe it is imperative to make lessons engaging and applicable for students through inquiry-based and cooperative learning,” says Roddenberry.

 

In addition to teaching, Roddenberry is a NASA Space Foundation Teacher Liaison, on the Space Educators Expedition Crew, is in the National Science Teachers Association and the Florida Association of Science Teachers, and is the WMS Space Academy Field Trip Coordinator. 

 

She is also the WMS STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Club sponsor, has been an Odyssey of the Mind coach, Fellowship of Christian Athletes co-sponsor, and a Teacher Coach.

 

Victoria Pope represents Wakulla High School as their Teacher of the Year.  She has been the WHS Media Specialist for the past 5 years and before that taught English Language Arts and Reading for 8 years.

 

Pope earned a bachelor’s degree in English Education for teaching grades 6 through 12.  She also earned the Reading Endorsement and the ESOL Endorsement.  Her master’s degree in Library and Information Science spans grades K through 12.

 

“When I moved from the classroom to the Media Center, I had the privilege of taking with me the same philosophy I had of teaching, centered around creating a safe and positive learning environment and applying it to assist others on a much greater scale.  

 

“I have the honor not only to support students through their educational journey to being life-long learners, but to also be a valuable resource to all faculty and staff as they fulfill their own professional goals, which in turn contributes to the success of WHS,” notes Pope.

 

She is also the WHS Special Areas Department Head, the WHS Public Relations Coordinator, and a member of the Florida Association for Media in Education.

 

These eight are now in the running for Wakulla County’s 2020 District Teacher of the Year, who will be announced in late December.  A qualified panel of judges will rate a written packet and an interview from each teacher. 

 

The 2020 Wakulla County Teacher of the Year will then compete with the other 71 districts’ Teachers of the Year for the Florida Teacher of the Year award in the summer.  

 

“These eight teachers are great role models for their students and for every teacher in the Wakulla County School District. In addition, they will serve on several Wakulla School District committees as a voice for their schools,” adds Superintendent Pearce.

 

All Wakulla County teachers will be honored at the Teacher of the Year Breakfast on March 23 at Crawfordville Elementary School.

October 9, 2019

 

At the heart of continuing awareness of October as national Students with Disabilities Month are the adults in Wakulla County schools who choose to serve students with disabilities and their parents they work with as a team. 

 

“We have come so far in serving our students with ‘different’ abilities, a term that is starting to catch on in our country to replace the negative connotation of disabilities.  Our parents, teachers, specialists, administrators and paraprofessionals form IEP (Individual Educational Plan) teams to help students be successful in school and in life.

 

We now serve students with every disability in our own school system.  In the past, students with the most severe disabilities were sent to Gretchen Everhart School in Tallahassee.  Now we strive to keep every student here in their home district.

 

Our teachers, paraprofessionals, and therapists who work with students with different abilities are incredible.  Their patience and ongoing quest to find ways to connect with and to teach our students is amazing to see,” says Tanya English, Executive Director of Exceptional Education and Student Services for Wakulla County Schools.

 

There are almost 200 people involved in serving Wakulla County’s students with disabilities, from drivers for special transportation needs to specialists, teachers, paraprofessionals, therapists, administrators and more. 

 

Plus, there are hundreds of other teachers who work to include students with disabilities in their general education classrooms.

 

Some ESE paraprofessionals go on to earn bachelor’s degrees in ESE, such as Sarojanie “Ro” Samlal who has been a fixture at Shadeville Elementary School working with children with disabilities for the past 14 years.  

 

She began as a paraprofessional and went on to earn her teaching degree in ESE. Currently she has a self-contained classroom of children ages 9 to 12 with varying exceptionalities including Autism, Down syndrome, Intellectual Disabilities, and Other Health Impairments (OHI). 

 

Samlal recently prevailed over 107 other candidates for the last slot of the last year of a five year grant which pays full tuition for a Master’s degree from Florida International University to study best practices when working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

 

At Wakulla Pre-Kindergarten, teachers and paraprofessionals work together as a team in every classroom from students with severe disabilities to those who may have minor speech delays.

 

“We hire many specialists, such as speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, specialists for students with vision impairments, hearing impairments, behavioral disorders and more,” adds English.

 

A newer member of the ESE team is Eden Rodgers, Wakulla High School’s ESE Coordinator.  One aspect of her job is working with the WHS Wings Program, which was “developed five years ago to provide peer support to students with disabilities in the general education classroom. 

 

The WHS Wings program is based on the curriculum from the Florida Inclusion Network ‘Peers as Partners in Learning’ program. Students who serve as Wings earn elective credit while providing academic, social and interpersonal support to students with disabilities in the inclusive setting. 

 

Inclusion means that students with disabilities are receiving services and supports in the general education classroom with their same age peers without disabilities. 

 

Not only do our students with disabilities benefit from the Wings program, but their peers share that they feel the experience is invaluable. We have students who request to be a Wing several years as an elective because it has such a big impact on their lives,” says Rodgers. 

 

“Because our outstanding ESE teachers, parapros, other professionals and parents work so hard as a team, they hope to give every differently abled student in our school system the ability to live without being defined by their disability.

 

October is just one month to highlight students with disabilities and the incredible adults who work with them, but the desire for students and adults to keep learning is constant all school year long,” says Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce. 

December 4, 2019

 

Both Riversprings Middle School and Wakulla Institute got some early holiday cheer as they benefitted from local partners.

Both schools just bought golf carts from Bellamy’s Outdoor Sports.  Golf carts are invaluable on school campuses, as they can get school personnel to a student in need or to a situation quickly, plus they help staff roam the campuses for safety reasons.

RMS benefactor Bob Donaway helped raise the money that gave them enough to purchase one.

“We are grateful to Mr. Donaway for his support.  This definitely adds to the safety of our campus,” says RMS Principal Michele Yeomans.

Wakulla Institute Administrator James Vernon says Bellamy’s Outdoor Sports was a great partner to navigate the purchases with.  He and RMS Assistant Principal Josh Sandgren worked together to buy the two golf carts for their campuses. 

“Owner Owen Bellamy and Sales Manager Joey Higdon worked with us to get what we needed.  This golf cart will help our staff manage the many programs at Wakulla Institute.  

“For example, we will use it to transport students with disabilities who have difficulty walking to lunch and to the bus.  Plus, I can roam the campus quicker to get to any issues our teachers or students have.  

“For us at Wakulla Institute, we have students ranging from elementary age through adults with disabilities, so this helps manage the safety of an open campus where every age person is coming and going at different times,” adds Vernon.

“We are fortunate to live in a county where our Wakulla business partners care so much about our students and are willing to support us in many ways,” says Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce. 

November 21, 2019

 

“Wakulla County School Board is pleased to announce the addition of 9 new air-conditioned gas buses, making our entire bus fleet for daily student transportation air-conditioned and no longer using the more expensive diesel.  

 

“WCSB has been working towards this since the first purchase of an air-conditioned bus in 2001.  Every time we have replaced a bus, we have done so with an air-conditioned gas one,” says Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce. 

 

Coordinator of Transportation Pat Jones knows first-hand how much longer a bus ride home can seem to Wakulla students with a majority of the year’s rides running in sweltering weather, including summer programs.  She routinely substitutes as a driver when there is no one to replace an absent driver.

 

“That all of our daily route buses will now be air-conditioned will make for happier students and relieved parents when their children get off the bus and are not wilting from the heat.  

 

“And of course our drivers will love it.  They are some of the hardest working, unsung heroes of our school district, being the first person and the last person our students interact with each day. 

 

“We will also try to book air-conditioned buses for field trips and sports events as much as possible.  Some days in the spring months we might have as many as 7 away sporting events plus several field trips all scheduled on the same day.  With a fully air-conditioned fleet, this will make everyone’s journey a little better,” says Jones.

 

Adds Superintendent Pearce, “How did WCSB pay for 9 new gas and air-conditioned buses, averaging $100,000 each?  Hats off to former Superintendent David Miller, who was fiscally responsible and used the Capital Outlay money from the state to build new schools and repay the funding for each school over 10 years.  

 

“Since our newest school Riversink Elementary is paid for, we can use the Capital Outlay money we have accrued for purchasing these buses, which we will have 5 years to pay back.”

 

PECO (Public Education Capital Outlay and Debt Service Trust Fund) money is from state education dollars and can be used for things such as school construction, repairs like the new HVAC at Wakulla Middle School, and transportation purchases.  School districts can build up their Capital Outlay funds to get better deals on big purchases like several buses at once.

 

“We will auction off or ‘scrap’ most of the buses we are replacing.  The money will go into the general WCSB operating funds, and the ‘scrapped’ buses will be used for replacement parts.  We will also keep some buses as backups in case there are too many trips planned for one day, or if a bus breaks down on the road,” notes Jones.

 

“Our taxpayers should also know that these new air-conditioned gas buses are less expensive than the approximate $118,000 each per diesel bus we are replacing.  Also, the new buses are quieter and the fuel is less expensive than diesel.

 

“This has been a united effort from our School Board Members, our Finance Department, Transportation Department, and Safety and Risk Management Department to make this purchase a reality.  

 

“But the most important aspect is that our children will have the best public transportation we can provide. With approximately 95 percent of our students using WCSB transportation every day, air-conditioned buses make a positive impact on our students and their drivers,” concludes Superintendent Pearce.

November 18, 2019

 

“The Wakulla County School Board was pleased to honor November’s Teachers of the Month Kristen Cason and Deana Davis, along with Employees of the Month Nicole Lovel and Breon Parker at the November 18 School Board Meeting,” said Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

KRISTEN CASON

Crawfordville Elementary School chose Kindergarten teacher Kristen Cason to represent them as November Teacher of the Month.

 

In her 24th year of teaching, Cason has been working in Wakulla County for 16 of those years.  

 

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Student Education and a master’s degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Reading, both from Western Illinois University. 

 

Cason also taught Special Diploma courses at Wakulla High School and 5th and 1st grade at CES before spending her past 11 years teaching Kindergarten there.

 

“Watching Kindergarteners grow both socially and academically is the most rewarding feeling a teacher can have.   Of all the grades I have taught over the past 24 years, Kindergarten has taught me how important early learning is,” says Cason.

 

She is also involved with many activities at CES, including School Science Night, the annual CES Festival, and the Parent Involvement portion of the School Advisory Council.

 

“Ms. Cason is one of the most patient and loving teachers I have had the pleasure of watching. When she is dealing with a student who is not wanting to perform, you will hear her say ‘I love you, but you need to come over here and do this.’  Her students respond well to this approach.

 

“There is not a challenge she will turn down and her sense of humor is amazing.  She will laugh at herself, and does not shy away from her mistakes, which makes her students trust her,” says CES Principal Louis Hernandez.

 

DEANA DAVIS

Riversprings Middle School teacher Deana Davis represents her school as November Teacher of the Month.  

 

Davis earned a bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education and Exceptional Student Education from Flagler College.

 

In her 8th year of teaching, Davis has taught 3rd and 4th grade at Medart Elementary School; 7th grade math, plus 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts at Wakulla Middle School; was the Secondary Instructional Coach for RMS and WMS; and now teaches 7th grade math at RMS. 

 

“Since Mrs. Davis served as an Instructional Coach for two previous years, this has given her a tremendous amount of knowledge of the standards across the curriculum, not just in math.  It has given her many tools to add to her tool belt for teaching middle school.

 

“When we found out that she wanted to go back in the classroom, it did not take us long to sell her on teaching math at RMS,” states RMS Principal Michele Yeomans.

 

“There are many aspects of my job that I just love.  The top two are the opportunity to surround myself with genuine, intelligent, and dedicated people; and the opportunity to positively influence so many young lives.

 

“It is awe-inspiring to witness and be a part of the amount of love and effort that we as a district pour into our children,” notes Davis.

 

Working beyond the 3:00 end of the school day, Davis often stays until 5:00 to ensure she is prepared for the next day of teaching.  Every Tuesday and Thursday, she also offers free math help to students who are willing to stay after.

 

In addition, Davis is a co-sponsor of both the RMS Sunshine Club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

 

“Not many professions provide the opportunity to influence lives at such a foundational level as does teaching.  As a teacher, I have the opportunity to not only grow my students’ minds, but also their hearts while they are still young enough for it to have a significant positive impact on their lives,” concludes Davis.

 

NICOLE LOVEL

Representing Wakulla Institute as November Employee of the Month is paraprofessional Nicole Lovel.  She is in her second year at the alternative learning center that houses many different pathways for students to get back on track to return to their home schools or to earn a high school diploma or its equivalent.

 

Originally from New Jersey, Lovel studied Social Work with a minor in Psychology at Rutgers University.

 

When her family moved to Wakulla County, she volunteered at her children’s school, Medart Elementary.  “I came to believe that being a parapro would be the perfect job to have. Now I’m planning on going back to college to earn a degree in teaching.

 

“Yes, Wakulla Institute can have challenging students, but our staff shows a lot of kindness, compassion, understanding and patience.  Everyone at WI wants to help these children find the right path and succeed in growing into productive adults,” says Lovel.

 

Adds WI Administrator James Vernon, “Mrs. Lovel has proven to be the perfect fit for our team here at Wakulla Institute.  She is capable of filling so many roles in our fluid educational environment that is unique and requires a caring attitude.

 

“She wears so many hats and has never let our team down when asked to step up and step into a new role to help a student, a colleague, or the school be the most successful they can be.”

  

BREON PARKER

Riversink Elementary School Employee of the Month for November is Breon Parker.  He is in his second year as a paraprofessional in the RES Emotional Behavior Disorders classroom.

 

Previously a 3rd grade teacher in Gadsden County and a 4th and 7th Grade teacher in Madison County, Parker says he came to Wakulla because “I always heard great things about Wakulla County Schools.  I wanted to be in a district that would help me grow professionally.”

 

Parker graduated from FAMU Developmental Research High School and then took college classes through Averett University based in Virginia.  He graduated from Florida A & M University with a bachelor’s degree in History and a minor in Anthropology.

 

About his current position working with students who have emotional and/or behavioral disorders, he says, “I work in a classroom that requires excellent control of my composure at all times.  You never know how our students are going to come to us each day. Therefore, I make it a point to greet them personally each morning when they get off the bus.

 

“I want to get their day started the right way and I want them to understand that I am there for them.  Regardless of their behavior, I’m always there to support them and give them a fresh start.”

 

Adds RES Principal Simeon Nelson, “Mr. Parker is an incredibly valuable member of our Exceptional Student Education Department.  He has excellent leadership skills and is always willing to accept new challenges.  While he is a quiet individual, his impact on our campus is huge.

 

“He knows how to make connections with kids and is the best role model around.  Not only does Mr. Parker support students in the EBD classroom, he mentors several students on campus.  He uses his break time and lunch time to interact with and encourage students. Riversink is blessed to have him as part of our family.”

November 15, 2019

 

Wakulla High School senior Alexandra “Ally” Harden recently earned the title of Commended Scholar from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

 

Over 1.5 million seniors in more than 22,000 high schools nationally entered the National Merit Scholarship Program as juniors by taking the October 2018 Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). This test serves as an initial screening of program entrants. 

 

The National Merit Scholarship program identifies students with the top 50,000 scores nationally.

 

Harden was one of 34,000 students recognized as Commended Scholars due to her high score on the PSAT/NMSQT.  She scored in the top 3 to 4 percent in the nation.  

 

The remaining 16,000 top scorers in the 1 to 2 percent range will continue in the National Merit Program.  

 

“Those named Commended Scholars have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success. These students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation,” commented an NMSC spokesperson.

 

“In addition to scoring in the 99th percentile on the PSAT/NMSQT, Ally has shown her talents in many way at WHS. She has an unweighted straight ‘A’ 4.0 grade point average (4.44 weighted) and has scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) and in the 100th percentile on the ACT (American College Test). 

 

She has taken our toughest classes, including Advanced Placement Calculus, Dual Enrollment College Algebra, Principles of Engineering and more.  She is a hard worker academically, and also stays involved in extracurricular activities such as Odyssey of the Mind,” noted WHS Principal Mike Barwick.

 

“We encourage all of our high school students to take the PSAT/NMSQT, as their scores on this test can open many doors, including when applying for local, state and national scholarships,” added Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy.

 

“Ally has been in the Wakulla County public school system all 12 years, attending Crawfordville Elementary, Riversprings Middle, and Wakulla High School.  We know she will be competitive with any student from anywhere for scholarships, college entrance, and future employment. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor,” stated Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

Harden is the daughter of Holly Harden and Charles Harden Jr.

 

For more information on the National Merit Scholarship program, contact Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy at 850-926-0065 (sunny.chancy@wcsb.us) or WHS Assistant Principal of Student Services Logan Crouch at 926-7125 (logan.crouch@wcsb.us). 

October 31, 2019

 

In a final celebration of October as National Disability Awareness Month, the Wakulla County Schools Adults with Disabilities Program took their skills on the road to Florida’s Department of Education, specifically to the BEESS (Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services) personnel.

 

Students served the lunches they made and also brought their Legacy Boutique crafts to show the BEESS staff. 

 

Adults with Disabilities Program teachers Joanne Hernandez and Kim Dutton were on hand to help, but their students were the ones proud to display their restaurant skills and creative abilities.   

 

“We had many reunions, as six former Wakulla ESE (Exceptional Student Education) teachers now work in the BEESS Department:  Jessica Brittain, Jennifer Coburn, Trish Strickland, Chelsea Strickland, Heidi Metcalf and Karrie Musgrove,” says Tanya English, Executive Director of Wakulla County’s ESE and Student Services Department. 

 

There were hugs and handshakes from the Wakulla students, many of whom have been in ESE classes or had ESE teachers help them in general education classes since they were in elementary school.

 

“It is wonderful to see our former Wakulla teachers taking their passion to help students with disabilities statewide.  Each of them has something to offer students and teachers throughout Florida, and it is helpful to be able to pick up the phone and talk with someone in the department who understands the needs of small and rural districts,” adds English.

October 28, 2019 

 

The Florida State Board of Education recently released names of school districts who earned the “2019 Academically High-Performing School District” designation.

Wakulla County is one of only 9 out of 67 Florida school districts to earn this designation along with Brevard, Collier, Gilchrist, Martin, Nassau, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Sarasota School Districts.

The Academically High-Performing School District designation is based on Florida Statute 1003.621, which states three criteria.

Wakulla met all three: top school and district grades for the 2017-2018 school year; favorable financial audit reviews for the 2017-2018 school year; and class size compliance during the 2018-2019 school year.

“We have our students, educators, and parents to thank for Wakulla’s academic achievements, including a District letter grade of “A” for the past three years. 

“Special recognition goes to our Chief Finance Officer Randy Beach.  He is extremely smart and ethical, making sure our finances are closely monitored and that we stay within the class size requirements,” says Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

The District Grade is based on more than just achievement levels on the Florida state tests.  It also includes areas like how to raise achievement for elementary, middle and high school students scoring in the lowest 25th percentile in Math and Reading (English Language Arts) from the previous year.

Plus, it matters how well all students show Learning Gains from year to year. 

“All of our Career and Technical (CTE) industry certifications earned, plus availability of acceleration, such as Dual Enrollment in college courses and Advanced Placement courses offered at WHS for college credit count.

“Our middle school students who earn high school credits and CTE industry certifications help the District Grade as well.  Of course our outstanding elementary teachers lay the groundwork for student achievement, and their students’ success is part of the Academically High-Performing designation too,” adds Pearce.

“Graduation Rate is also vital to our achievement. We have added programs and pathways to help our high school students who are so close but may have academic and/or personal reasons why they might not graduate,” says Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy.

“Not only is it an honor to be designated one of only 9 school districts, but it is also worth noting that Wakulla ranks 8th out of the 9 for population.  Only Gilchrist has a smaller population.  

It is a community celebration that Wakulla County School District carries the designation of ‘Academically High-Performing’,” concludes Superintendent Pearce.

October 31, 2019

 

Wakulla Middle School is one of 9 finalists to be in the running for a $2,000 scholarship from Envision Credit Union.

 

“What better way is there to support education than giving $6,000 in school grants?  Our staff of Envision volunteers has completed the first phase of our school grant contest.  We’ve selected 9 finalists and now we need your help to select our top 3 lucky winners who will win $2,000 each for their school project,” says an Envision representative.

 

WMS teachers Melissa Martin and Katrina Roddenberry applied for the grant by submitting a video and now they need the Wakulla County School District and the Wakulla community to vote for their project.

 

“The money would be used to buy a program and headsets that bring History and Science together through virtual reality experiences that we believe our students and teachers would benefit from,” says Martin. 

 

“Tell everyone you know to visit www.EnvisionCU.com/VOTE to start voting today. You can vote one time per day, per email address. You’ll notice that the videos rotate each time you visit the page. 

 

"Voting will close at the end of the day on Monday, November 11. 

 

"Remember, this is a public vote contest, so the top 3 with the most votes will win $2,000 for their school project. Get your colleagues, students, parents, spouses, aunts, uncles…you name them….get them ALL to vote daily starting…..now!” says Kelli Walter, Envision Vice President of Community Development.

October 23, 2019

 

 

Wakulla High School’s Senior Class of 2019 outscored their counterparts in Florida on the American College Test (ACT) in every area: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and on the composite score.  

  

On the ACT, WHS 2019 graduates averaged 21.1 in English with the state average at 19.5. 

 

In Mathematics, WHS scored 20.5 with the state average at 19.5.  

 

WHS Reading scores averaged 23.2 with the state averaging 21.2. 

 

WHS Science scores came in at 21.4 with the state at 19.7.  

 

The overall average composite score for WHS 2019 graduates was 21.7 with the state at 20.1. 

 

“Putting more programs in place for WHS students to improve their scores is paying off. These scores are not only important for getting into college, they also help students earn scholarships, plus show us where we can improve our curriculum,” says Sunny Chancy, WCSB Chief Academic Officer.

 

“Wakulla High School is doing an outstanding job of encouraging all students to take the ACT and/or the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) regardless of their academic standing, so this is not just a reflection of students with ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade point averages,” adds Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

The ACT is one of the common national tests taken for college entrance qualifications, including meeting requirements to take Dual Enrollment college courses while still in high school.  It is also one of the tests used for determining eligibility for Florida Bright Futures scholarships.

 

ACT research with colleges nationwide establishes benchmark scores that are a valid prediction of whether or not students will pass a college course in that subject.  In all four areas tested, Wakulla students exceeded the state average scores predicting passing grades in College English, College Algebra, College Social Science, College Biology and in the composite score of all four subjects.

 

“It’s important that the trend continues for our students to exceed the state averages from year to year in all areas of a nationally standardized college entrance exam.  We want them to graduate from WHS both college and career ready so that a variety of pathways are open to them,” states Superintendent Pearce. 

 

WHS offers the ACT on the WHS campus in lieu of students having to drive to Tallahassee to take it in an unfamiliar setting.  The SAT will be offered at WHS during the second semester. Students are encouraged to take the ACT and/or the SAT in order to broaden their options for after high school.  

 

They can prepare for doing well on the ACT and on other college entrance exams by taking advantage of the rigorous curricula offered at Wakulla High School such as Advanced Placement courses and college Dual Enrollment courses from Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University at no cost to parents and guardians.

 

“Students are encouraged to take the ACT and the SAT several times to improve their scores, starting in the fall of their junior year at the latest. If they can’t afford the testing fees, they can talk to the WHS Student Services Department personnel about fee waiver criteria,” adds WHS Principal Mike Barwick.

 

Wakulla High School continues its college and career information dissemination efforts, including hosting a College and Career Fair plus Parent Nights for questions and answers.  

 

For more information on taking the ACT or the SAT, contact WHS Assistant Principal of Student Services Logan Crouch at 850-926-2221 logan.crouch@wcsb.us or district-wide Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy at 850-926-0065 sunny.chancy@wcsb.us

October 21, 2019

 

With school in full swing, the Teachers and Employee of the Month program recognized four people at the October 21 Wakulla County School Board meeting.

 

“We were happy to award October Employee of the Month Eunice Donaldson, plus October Teachers of the Month Jessica Deneen and Sandra Whaley.  September Teacher of the Month Dalynda Vause was also recognized,” said Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

EUNICE DONALDSON

Eunice Donaldson of the Pre-Kindergarten at Wakulla Education Center was selected by her peers as October Employee of the Month.  She is in her 44th year of service to Wakulla County children.

 

A Wakulla native, she attended Buckhorn Elementary School, Crawfordville High School and graduated from Wakulla High School.  

 

In 1975, Donaldson began as a substitute in the WCSB cafeterias, then worked as a substitute at the St. Marks Pre-K.  In 1988, she earned her CDA (Child Development Associate) certification.

 

“I began my full-time career in child care in the Wakulla County School District Day Care for employees’ children in 1993.  Some of my fondest memories are rocking the babies and singing to them.

 

In 2000 I began my current job at WEC (Wakulla Education Center).  Presently, I work closely with another Pre-K teacher in the ESE (Exceptional Student Education) program.  I truly enjoy my job and being able to spend my days with the youngest children in our school system.  Every day is a new adventure,” Donaldson says.

 

“I like reading stories to the children and watching their little eyes light up. I like helping them when they fall down and when they get up, they smile at you to let you know they are okay. 

 

It is so rewarding to see their thoughts become phrases and then sentences.  Pre-K is a happy place filled with fun and laughter,” she adds.

 

Donaldson is also a Guardian Ad Litem for child advocacy and care, which means she is appointed by a judge to act on behalf of minors.

 

“Ms. Eunice always has a humorous story to share with the adults in the office every morning, spreading her daily sunshine and cheer. 

 

She has worked in many different classroom settings from the small, self-contained classrooms of our youngest children with severe developmental delays, to the larger classrooms with two teachers and children with a wide range of abilities. 

 

She is patient, firm, and loving with all the different children she works with, plus she cherishes times when former students return to thank her.  

 

Ms. Eunice’s legacy and work ethic will live on in these halls of Pre-K long after she is retired,” says WEC Pre-K Principal Laura Kelley.

 

 

JESSICA DENEEN

Jessica Deneen is Wakulla Middle School’s October Teacher of the Month.  She is in her third year teaching 6th Grade English Language Arts (ELA), and in her seventh year working with WMS students.

 

Born at a U.S. Naval Air Station in Italy, her family found its way to Middleburg, Florida where Deneen graduated from high school. She then earned her Associate of Arts degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville and went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work from FSU.

 

“After working at WMS for two years as a Prevention Specialist/Social Worker, I became interested in teaching.  

 

With former WMS Principal and current Executive Director for ‘Just Read, Florida’ Rick Myhre’s guidance, I was able to earn a teaching certificate for people coming from other professions and was hired in 2015 as a WMS ESE Resource Room ELA teacher.

 

The greatest joy of my profession is watching students experience growth.  The fruit of my labors is hearing students communicate quality thoughts and ideas clearly, watching them listen to me or each other intently, and reading assignments that they have obviously put time and effort into completing.

 

This job gives me a reason to celebrate every day,” says Deneen.

 

Getting to know her students outside of the classroom, Deneen is in her fourth year as the WMS Girls Cross Country coach, a sport she was inspired to start at WMS.

 

In addition, she sponsors the new WMS Junior Optimists Club.  

 

“I am so excited to be starting this club.  Wakulla School Board member Mrs. Jo Ann Daniels approached me about it, and after reading the Optimist Creed, I was sold.

 

I enlisted the help of my colleague Amanda Hofheinz, and we now have 22 members who meet weekly to work on many projects that will enhance our school and community,” adds Deneen.

 

“Mrs. Deneen is an outstanding teacher.  She truly cares about her students and works to build and maintain a positive relationship with them.  

 

She is invested in her students’ growth and loves seeing them succeed.  We are lucky to have such a dedicated educator, coach, and club sponsor at WMS,” notes Principal Tolar Griffin.

 

SANDRA WHALEY

Fourth grade teacher Sandra Whaley was selected by the Medart Elementary School faculty as their October Teacher of the Month.

 

Whaley has garnered much experience as she enters her 33rd year in education, including as a teacher of every grade level from Kindergarten through 5th Grade in Florida, Illinois, Virginia, and Louisiana.

 

She is finally settled in Wakulla County since her husband retired from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2016 and has family in Wakulla.

 

A graduate of St. John’s River Community College with an AA degree, Whaley went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

 

“I’ve had so many wonderful experiences and things I love about teaching, but the one thing I have enjoyed the most is my level of student engagement.

 

To keep my kids excited to learn, I have dressed as Fancy Nancy to introduce my Word Wall.  I have transformed myself into a Native American to introduce our study of Florida’s first natives.

 

This year, I welcomed my fourth graders as their Astronaut Mission Commander.  Our school’s theme this year is ‘Reach for the Stars and Beyond’, so the first day of school I dressed like an astronaut.  

 

I had planets hanging from the ceiling, a rocket ship that doubles as a reading nook, and my students were given a Mission to complete. 

 

Their mission is to learn the Fourth Grade Standards from Florida’s Department of Education.  Every day we ask ourselves if what we are doing is helping or hurting our mission,” says Whaley.  

 

In addition to teaching, Whaley also is the MES Odyssey of the Mind coach and the MES Spelling Bee facilitator.  

 

She also gives back to the profession by working as a Teacher Coach to mentor new teachers, and she is the MES Fourth Grade Team Leader.

 

“Mrs. Whaley is usually one of the first to arrive at school in the morning and one of the last to leave.  

 

She has put in numerous hours as Medart’s Odyssey of the Mind coach and sets a great example of what it means to be a team player for her students and her peers.

 

Her classroom is always full of excitement and positive energy where students are not afraid to make mistakes and they believe they can accomplish their goals,” adds MES Principal Stan Ward.

 

DALYNDA VAUSE

Dalynda Vause from Wakulla High School is September’s Teacher of the Month.  She was recognized at the October School Board Meeting.

 

Vause is in her eighth year teaching at WHS.  After 19 years working in banking and rising to Assistant Vice President, she chose to go into teaching, beginning by substituting at WHS for one year.

 

As WHS Principal Mike Barwick and her peers saw that she would be an asset as a full-time educator, she was hired in 2012 as a CTE (Career and Technical Education) teacher.  She then rose to her current job as Associate Dean/Career Specialist in 2016.

 

Vause is in charge of seeing that all the CTE programs at WHS have what they need to operate, from the Nursing Academy to the Engineering Academy to the Business Technology Academy and all the other numerous CTE programs, including OJT (One the Job Training). 

 

“Ms. Vause is a tremendous asset to our campus. She brings a wealth of experience to our school from her previous career in business,” says WHS Principal Mike Barwick.

 

A graduate of Wakulla High School, Vause went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and an MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree from FSU.  She has completed the necessary certification requirements for teachers who have degrees in fields other than education.

 

“My high school mentor, Sarabeth Jones, convinced me to share my education and experience in the classroom as a CTE instructor.

 

I truly enjoy helping students explore careers and prepare for their futures in the job market.  There are multiple pathways to careers and it is wonderful to watch students discover the pathway that is right for them.

 

I am so thankful to work in a school district that offers so many choices in Career and Technical Education and gives students the opportunity to explore their options,” notes Vause.

 

“Ms. Vause understands high school kids, and her unique talent of being able to positively communicate with them makes their goals more achievable.  

 

In addition, her organizational skills are impeccable.  It is no easy task to oversee all of our CTE programs and academies,” says WHS Principal Mike Barwick.  

 

Vause is also in charge of students earning state and national certifications in different CTE areas that are recognized by prospective employers, such as the Automobile Dealers Association Certified Technician or Microsoft Office Specialist, among 12 other CTE certification opportunities.

 

“Ms. Vause’s contributions to our school are important for our students’ and our school’s continued success in CTE areas.  We are truly blessed to have her at WHS,” concludes Barwick.

October 10, 2019

 

“Our students have the opportunity to graduate from Wakulla High School certified to jump right into a career and/or pursue college or technical school in a specific field at no cost to them or their parents while they are enrolled at WHS, or attending TCC or Lively Technical College while still in high school,” states Wakulla County Superintendent of Schools Bobby Pearce. 

 

Wakulla High School students earned 428 industry certifications through CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs during school year 2018-2019.    

 

Add in the 65 “Microsoft Office Specialist” certifications earned by Riversprings Middle School and Wakulla Middle School students, and it totals 493 industry certifications earned for school year 2018-2019. 

 

“This school year of 2019-2020, students can start as early as elementary school earning industry certifications.  A new Computer Technology program for 4th and 5th graders will be starting soon.  It will be an after school program with transportation provided.

 

Ten years ago, our students earned 23 industry certifications.  They were all from one program: the WHS Medical Academy, where they graduated from WHS with their CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) state license.  

 

Today we have 16 on-campus ways to earn state and national certifications, plus many more possibilities when WHS students take dual enrollment courses at TCC or Lively,” says Sunny Chancy, Chief Academic Officer for Wakulla County Schools.  

 

Industry certifications are earned from learning the coursework and passing tests from the state, like Florida’s “Emergency Medical Responder” licensing, or the Florida Automotive Dealers’ Association “Certified Technician”.  

 

Other tests can be from a national or international company such as Microsoft.  These certifications are recognized by employers and often lead to jobs where students know enough to jump into the work right away.  

 

CTE Programs of Study offered by WHS include: Medical Academy, Engineering Academy, Business Technology Academy, Culinary Arts, TV Production, Automotive Maintenance, Building Trades, and Welding.  

 

Under the Business Technology Academy, there are several programs of study such as Web Design, Digital Information Technology, Digital Design and Administrative Office Technology.

 

Two new areas of certification recently added at WHS include Quickbooks for bookkeeping and accounting, and Cosmetology.

 

Another CTE program in the process of being added for the 2020-2021 school year is Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

 

There are also more programs open to high school students at Lively Technical College at no cost while students are in high school, such as Aviation Maintenance Technology.  

 

“These CTE programs offer students the chance to learn many skills that can lead directly to employment after high school graduation, to certificate programs in post-secondary schools like Lively Technical College, and to college degrees.

 

We have students come back all the time and tell us how they got better jobs right out of high school or how they worked their way through college at much higher paying jobs because they had industry certifications that qualified them to work for more than minimum wage,” says WHS Principal Mike Barwick.  

 

The 65 Riversprings Middle School and Wakulla Middle School students who earned “Microsoft Office Specialist” certification took the high school credit course “Digital Information Technology”. 

 

They can use this course to meet their high school CTE graduation requirement, or go on to take the rest of the courses in one of the Business Technology Education fields at WHS. 

 

“Many students take us up on more than one of these opportunities. For example, they might graduate industry certified in the Engineering Academy’s ‘Autodesk Inventor’ software, and also have Dual Enrollment college credits in math and science.  We try to make students and parents aware of all the opportunities and combinations of opportunities available to them,” says Superintendent Pearce. 

 

Students who complete a CTE program, or who are close to completing one, can also work in that area while in high school, earn credits, and get paid for their OJT (On the Job Training) experience.

 

“There are also opportunities to earn Florida Bright Futures Scholarships and local scholarships that can help pay for further schooling or technical training,” adds Superintendent Pearce.

 

For more information about CTE courses and Dual Enrollment opportunities, contact Dalynda Vause, WHS Associate Dean/Career Specialist at (850) 926-7125/dalynda.vause@wcsb.us.  Or contact Sunny Chancy, Chief Academic Officer for Wakulla County Schools at (850) 926-0065/ sunny.chancy@wcsb.us.

By Lauren Baker

October 18, 2019

 

Medart Elementary School hosted the first meeting of “The Bucking Bookworms” on October 10. This kick-off meeting of the Medart Book Club drew in 27 students ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade. 

 

The theme for the first meeting was partner reading. Book club members gathered in the library after school to enjoy a popcorn snack and listen to the guest speaker Instructional Coach Holly Harden explain about using whisper phones to read quietly to themselves.

 

After students practiced with the whisper phones for independent reading, they paired up to read with a partner. Younger students worked together with older students. Partner reading is a positive way for students to practice fluency, an essential element of reading comprehension.

 

Students who read and completed a book could then take an Accelerated Reader (AR) test on the computer. Seven of the 27 students in attendance took an AR test and made an 80 percent or higher. 

 

The youngest member of “The Bucking Bookworms”, a kindergarten student, was among those who tested. He is the first kindergartener at Medart Elementary to take an AR test this year and he scored a 100.

 

Several teachers were in attendance to assist with the first meeting of the book club, including Glenda Hance, Carrie Pigott, Michele Lawhon, Melissa Jackman, and Lauren Baker. 

 

Medart Assistant Principal Katherine Spivey, who initiated the start of the club, also attended. 

 

Ms. Spivey created the club to encourage students to read outside of classroom, to provide support to students who wanted someone to read with, and to allow students to celebrate reading with their peers. 

 

“This is a great opportunity to foster a love of reading with our students. Reading for fun is a positive way to improve reading skills in the classroom, and also introduces students to a wide range of book genres. I appreciate Ms. Spivey and our Medart teachers who are taking an active role in this after school program,” said Medart Principal Stan Ward.

 

The next meeting will be space themed and will feature flashlight reading. The Bookworms will take their first field trip to the Wakulla County Public Library where library employees will work with students and show them how to flashlight read. 

 

They will also be offering themed book boxes for classroom teachers to check out. This partnership will be extended to Medart’s Title I Night on November 7. 

 

That evening the school will honor Veterans with their annual Veterans Day Program, host their fall Scholastic Book Fair, and the public library will be set up to issue library cards to parents and students.

 

“The Title I night will draw much of the Medart community out to support the importance of reading,” added Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

The Medart book club meets Thursdays after school and after October 24, transportation will be provided for all members. Students interested in joining the "Bucking Bookworms” can contact Medart Assistant Principal Spivey at 850-962-4881 or at Katherine.spivey@wcsb.us.

October 18, 2019

 

Four graduates of Wakulla High School will complete a six person team of the Tallahassee Community College Model United Nations Club who will attend this year’s Model U.N. International Conference in Erfurt, Germany from November 24 to December 1, 2019.  

Jamey Harvey, Dixie Johnston, Elizabeth Hughes and Jeanie Morrison were chosen to attend out of the 25 students in TCC’s Model U.N. Club.

“These six TCC students were selected for the International Conference based on their expertise in foreign policy and the submission of a position paper. 

The TCC Model U.N. is a club where students participate in mock United Nations Assemblies, acting as delegates or ambassadors from an assigned country.  Knowledge of foreign affairs, political relations and significant issues or crisis related to other countries is critical to be a participant in Model U.N.,” says Lara Davis, Wakulla County Middle School Instructional Coach 

“Ironically, these four WHS graduates also attended Medart Elementary School and Wakulla Middle School together.  They are yet another shining example of how prepared our graduates are to succeed in a global society,” notes Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

Additionally, the four Wakulla graduates will be attending a leadership development conference in New York in April 2020.  

“Jeanie, Dixie, Elizabeth and Jamey have all expressed their desire to pursue careers that will influence not only Wakulla County, but have a far reaching effect on society. They are ones to watch!” adds Davis.

October 3, 2019

 

In October of  1988, National Disability Awareness Month was declared by the U.S. Congress as National Disability Employment Awareness Month to raise awareness of the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities.

 

In Wakulla County Schools, education and services for students with disabilities has grown from helping children successfully navigate through school to helping them be self-sufficient after their high school graduation.

 

“We work on employability skills, job searches, and partnerships with businesses who will employ our students with disabilities.  We know that parents are also wondering, ‘After graduation, what is next for my child?’” says Tanya English, Executive Director of Exceptional Student Education and Student Services for Wakulla County Schools.

 

Some employers include 4Rivers Restaurant, where WHS graduate Alex Dutton works at their FSU site. Other employers include The Senior Center, Publix, and Good Will, among others.   

 

WHS Junior Izabel Hernandez has started her own shredding business.  Several other students are employed by Sodexo Food Services, which runs the Wakulla County school cafeterias.

 

Students with who are nearing graduation or have already graduated are encouraged to join the WCSB Adults with Disabilities program, where they learn how to run a restaurant, which developed into the successful Legacy Café on the District Office campus in Crawfordville.  

 

Joanne Hernandez and Kim Dutton are the adults who now run the program.

 

“ESE teacher Vicki Strickland really helped us get the Legacy Café off the ground years ago, since she has worked on employment skills with young adults for many years, such as with Habitat for Humanity.

So many people contributed to making the Legacy Café a success. Our students cater large group meetings at the Café, and also make lunches to serve adults at the schools.

 

Additionally, students in this program are encouraged to be entrepreneurs, selling their homemade creations at the Legacy Boutique,” says English.

Several young adults in the program have put their wares on Etsy, the popular global online marketplace where people come together to make, sell, buy, and collect unique items.

At WHS, teacher Sonia Clark-Rosier sponsors the SOAR (Supports, Opportunities, and Resources) Club. It is different from other college and career prep programs in that it is comprised of three groups: students with intellectual disabilities, students with disabilities other than intellectual disabilities, and students without disabilities. 

 

Club members work together in teams to identify prospective colleges and universities of interest, learn about various careers, engage in mentoring, and participate in events and activities within the school and community. 

 

“What parent or guardian doesn’t worry about their children’s futures?  To be able to give our students with disabilities hope by preparing them to be part of the workforce is an important goal.  

 

Our teachers and parapros do an incredible job, pre-k through adult education, at preparing students for life beyond high school,” adds Superintendent of Wakulla Schools Bobby Pearce. 

October 3, 2019

 

The Wakulla High School War Eagle Special Olympics “Unified Champions” Flag Football team bested local teams such as those from Chiles High School and Leon High School to secure a spot at the state finals on November 15, 16 and 17.  

 

SOFL (Special Olympics of Florida) state games will be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center in Orlando.

Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. 

 

The “Unified Champions” program joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team and “was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding,” according to the SOFL organization.

 

“In ‘Unified Sports’, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability. That makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting for players and spectators. 

 

Having sports in common is just one more way that students with exceptionalities can show the world that they are not defined by their exceptionalities.  Students without exceptionalities learn a lot as well,” says Sharon Scherbarth, Director of Special Olympics for Wakulla County. 

 

Adult coaches are Sean Simmons, Louis Hernandez, Joanne Hernandez, Tyler Jarvis and Scott Hope.

 

“There is a lot of growth in students understanding each other once those barriers are down. Our SOFL Flag Football athletes are a great example of inclusion in action,” adds Superintendent of Wakulla Schools Bobby Pearce.

September 27, 2019

 

“October is National Disability History and Awareness Month; however, in the Wakulla County School District, we like to focus on our students’ abilities.

 

We have activities scheduled throughout the entire month, culminating in our students who run the Legacy Café preparing and serving breakfast to some of the Florida Department of Education employees in BEESS (Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services) at their worksite,” says Tanya English, Wakulla’s Executive Director of Exceptional Student Education and Student Services. 

 

Public Service Announcements and information packets produced by the Wakulla County School District's ESE Department will be used in a variety of ways in the schools.

 

Included in information packets are activities to help students better understand individuals with autism, hearing impairments, visual impairments, communication disabilities, physical disabilities, emotional disabilities, and cognitive disabilities.

 

“Every student will receive a bookmark that gives examples of more positive language to use when referring to our students with special needs.  We are trying to acknowledge the person first, not his or her disability,” adds English.

 

For example, the bookmarks state: 

 

• Say “a person with disabilities” (instead of “an ESE student”)

 

• Say “He has ADHD” (instead of “He is ADHD”)

 

• Say “She has a Learning Disability” (instead of “She is LD”)

 

Upcoming information throughout October will spotlight athletes from Special Olympics Florida, Wakulla County; BPIE (Best Practices for Inclusive Education); and a dedicated group of Wakulla County’s educators of students with disabilities.

 

“One of our most experienced teachers is Vicki Strickland, now at Riversink Elementary School, after decades of working with students at Wakulla High School and with those in the Adults with Disabilities program.  

 

She has been instrumental in making job training essential to her students’ education and has placed many students in jobs that they still hold today.  

 

Ms. Strickland also has been a major factor in the success of the student-run Legacy Café, including students creating a boutique to sell their artistic creations.

 

She educates our students with disabilities on how to be independent and resourceful,” says English.

 

“I applaud our Wakulla educators making the focus on awareness to help our community understand that people with disabilities have abilities and that their disabilities do not define them.

 

Most of us in our close Wakulla County community have some personal connection with a child or an adult with a disability.  By our actions and education, we are hopefully raising a generation of informed, empathetic students,” states Superintendent of Wakulla Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

For more information, contact Tanya English, Executive Director of Exceptional Student Education and Student Services at 850-926-0065 or at tanya.english@wcsb.us.

September 25, 2019

On September 25, the Florida Department of Education promoted the fifth year of “Dads Take Your Child to School Day”. The goal is to encourage fathers and male role models to be an active part of their child's education.

Hundreds of dads, grandfathers, foster fathers and father-figures brought their children to school on Wednesday, September 25.  Many of them stayed to share breakfast and do projects with their children.

The FLDOE Office of Family Engagement, citing over 30 years of research, “supports emphasis on engaging fathers as a means of increasing student achievement.”   

Research shows that when fathers or father-figures are actively involved in their child’s school life, students “perform better academically; have fewer discipline problems; and become more responsible adults.” 

 

“Wakulla County Schools enjoy this family-friendly day. It was a great turnout everywhere.  We are fortunate to live in a community where so many families and extended families participate in their children’s education and well-being,” says Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

For more information and practical ideas such as “All-Pro Dads: 5 Ways to Bond Through Reading” and “10 Facts About Father Engagement”, there are many resources on the FLDOE Office of Family Engagement website.

September 27, 2019

 

Wakulla High School received an unexpected addition to its school safety improvements.  

 

Tallahassee 2way, the company that provides hand held radios, security cameras, and a GPS tracking system for the WCSB Transportation Department, donated a golf cart to add more security at WHS.

 

“WHS School Guardian Mike Crum, retired officer from the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office, will be able to improve his surveillance of the sprawling WHS campus with this donation.  

 

A big shout out of thank you to Mike O’Brien, owner of Tallahassee 2way, for this generous gift,” says Wakulla Superintendent of Schools Bobby Pearce.

 

Just two weeks after the 2018 school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, Superintendent Pearce and Wakulla County Sheriff Jared Miller collaborated to add six new School Resource Officers so that every public school in the district has a trained, armed SRO on site.  

 

Today the total is 10 SROs, one at each school, including Wakulla Pre-K and Wakulla Institute for alternative programs. 

 

Wakulla High School has two SROs.

 

Three School Guardians were hired for the 2019-2020 school year, adding one retired law enforcement officer each at Wakulla High, Riversprings Middle, and Wakulla Middle.

 

“For WHS School Guardian Crum, this donation will make a big difference in how much better he can patrol the campus,” adds Jim Griner, Safety and Risk Manager for Wakulla County Schools.

Nick Weaver, Frankie Harvey and Marilyn Pascarella are honored

September 9, 2019

 

While busy kicking off a new school year, Principal Nick Weaver and Assistant Principal Frankie Harvey were named School-Level Administrators of the Year for 2018-2019.  Employee of the Year for 2018-2019 is Marilyn Pascarella.

 

“There are so many outstanding employees in our school system, it’s hard to select just two School-Level and one Employee of the Year.  These three individuals represent their peers well.  We were pleased to award them in front of their faculties and families at the September 9 School Board Meeting,” stated Superintendent Bobby Pearce.

 

NICK WEAVER

Nick Weaver, in his third year as Principal of Shadeville Elementary School and in his 14th year in education, was named 2018-2019 School-Level Administrator of the Year.  He brings a unique skill set to the job as he is one of a few administrators who has worked at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. 

 

A graduate of Barry University, Weaver earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.  He went on to earn a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from St. Leo University. 

 

After two years teaching at the elementary level in Broward County, Weaver moved to Wakulla County to be closer to family and to try for a job in the county he knew was labeled a “High-Performing District” by the Florida Department of Education.  

 

It was then he was hired to teach 5th grade at the brand new Riversink Elementary School which opened in 2008. 

 

“Mr. Weaver was an academic leader at Riversink who had great student success.  He had a keen sense of how to motivate his students, which has translated into motivating his faculties as an administrator,” said Jackie High, the now retired RES principal who hired Weaver.

 

Honing leadership skills as a teacher at RES, he was Team Leader and Textbook Manager, plus co-sponsored the Odyssey of the Mind team.  

 

Through one of Wakulla’s offerings for teacher advancement, he also earned the Gifted Endorsement, plus he taught After School Remediation for struggling students.

 

Wakulla High School Principal Mike Barwick hired him as a math teacher in 2014.  

 

After two years at WHS, Weaver was named Associate Dean and then Dean of Instruction at Riversprings Middle School, where he also coached a WHS Odyssey of the Mind team as the first ever Wakulla County state winner to qualify for and attend the World Finals.

 

“Mr. Weaver was an excellent math teacher at WHS. He also successfully took on administrative duties,” stated Barwick.

 

Named Principal of Shadeville Elementary School in 2017, he and his faculty and students carried on the tradition of earning an “A” school grade from the Florida Department of Education for 2018-2019.  

 

FRANKIE HARVEY

Frankie Harvey, Assistant Principal at Shadeville Elementary, was also named School-Level Administrator of the Year for 2018-2019.  She is in her 17th year as an educator in Wakulla County schools.

 

A Wakulla County native, Harvey attended and graduated from Wakulla County schools.  She excelled at volleyball as a Wakulla High School student, then went on to become head JV Volleyball coach, Assistant Varsity Volleyball coach, and head Varsity Volleyball coach, all at WHS. 

 

She graduated from Flagler College with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from St. Leo University.

 

Her first teaching job was at Crawfordville Elementary, where she emerged as a teacher-leader in and outside of the classroom.  Over her 11 years as a CES teacher, she also took on leadership roles as a 4th grade Team Leader, Student Council Advisor, After School Remediation teacher, and Summer Reading Camp teacher and lead teacher. 

 

In addition, Harvey was a key advocate for CES in the implementation of the district-wide Positive Behavior System and the CES School Advisory Council. 

 

“She also was a role model for other teachers in welcoming ESE (Exceptional Student Education) students to inclusion classrooms, helping design lessons and working with other ESE teachers for her students’ best interest,” states Tanya English, former CES Principal and current Executive Director of ESE and Student Services.

 

Former CES Principal Angie Walker, now Executive Director of Human Resources, describes Harvey as a “caring and compassionate teacher with a well-managed, highly engaging, positive learning environment” when she taught at CES.

 

Harvey became CES Dean of Students in 2014 and then CES Assistant Principal from 2015 until 2018, when she transferred to Shadeville Elementary School.  

 

“Assistant Principal Harvey and Principal Weaver are working not only to maintain Shadeville as a high-performing school, but also are constantly looking for ways to improve it for their students, faculty, and staff,” notes Superintendent Pearce.

 

MARILYN PASCARELLA

Employee of the Year Marilyn Pascarella has worked for the Wakulla County School Board for 34 years, with the last 18 years spent as Secretary for the Human Resources Department, currently headed by Executive Director Angie Walker. 

 

“Mrs. Pascarella began her career as a bus driver for 16 years and loved every minute of it.  She often comments that the best part of working in Wakulla’s public school system is helping the children and being able to be a positive influence in their lives.

 

She says that in her role as secretary for HR, she now has the ability to continue to influence students but also has the ability to positively impact employees,” notes Walker.

 

One of those positively impacted by Pascarella is Finance Secretary Deborah Brown.  “In my past 15 years working with her, I have continued to respect Marilyn’s work ethic and enjoyed getting to know her on a personal level.  

 

Marilyn handles a wide variety of duties, and is always professional, courteous, and willing to help, whatever the request may be.  She is very adaptable and has learned new technology well.”

 

Some of those areas she has trained on include entering new employees and updating current employee information on the Skyward system; entering staff information for Florida and U.S. Department of Education surveys; fingerprinting new employees and printing badges; and ordering and paying all HR invoices, then uploading them to the Suntrust site. 

 

Additionally, she was voted Employee of the Month for December 2018.

 

“Mrs. Pascarella’s enthusiasm, work ethic, and peaceful approach to handling difficult situations are exemplary.  Her flexibility and patience when working with the public on challenging and delicate situations have earned her the enviable reputation as an excellent employee and confidant who truly cares about people and about the Wakulla County School System,” concludes Walker. 

September 9, 2019 

 

With students back in school and employees hitting the ground running, September kicked off awards for Teacher and Employee of the Month.  Two people were recognized at the September 9 Wakulla County School Board meeting.

 

“We are happy to award Lisa Brown and Katrina Hurley as our September honorees.  These ladies are great representatives of their peers.  Their common theme is that they go above and beyond for the students and adults in their work places,” said Superintendent Bobby Pearce.

LISA BROWN

Lisa Brown is September Teacher of the Month.  She is in her 14th year at Shadeville Elementary School working as a kindergarten teacher.

 

She earned her AA degree at Tallahassee Community College and graduated with an Elementary Education bachelor’s degree from Flagler College.

 

Before teaching, Brown was a legal secretary for 10 years.  “I always wanted to be a teacher, so after having my first child, I decided to finish my degree.

 

I was lucky to get an internship at Shadeville and was hired as a teacher afterwards.  My son turned five that year, so we both started kindergarten together,” recalls Brown.

 

A Miami native, Brown graduated from North Miami High School. She moved to Wakulla County when she married her husband, who is from Sopchoppy.  

 

“I love teaching kindergarten! These little people have such amazing minds and capacities to learn.  They are excited about everything and so curious about the world around them.  They pass their enthusiasm on to me and make me excited to teach them.

 

I am in a unique position to see them throughout their elementary years and maintain a relationship with them,” says Brown.

 

She even hosts a “Back to the Past” snack time for the 5th graders she taught in kindergarten: “They enjoy reminiscing and I love to hear their perspective of kindergarten from their older view.  It is interesting to hear the things they remember the most that I may not have thought were so important.”

 

“Lisa Brown is an amazing teacher,” says SES Principal Nick Weaver.  “Her ability to connect to her kindergarten students and get them to perform at their highest level is a sight to see.

 

Her passion for her students and the education profession is evident in her classroom every day.”


KATRINA HURLEY

WCSB September Employee of the Month is Katrina Hurley, Cafeteria Manager for Wakulla High School.  

 

“It is no small feat to feed our almost 1,500 students breakfast and lunch every day.  Ms. Hurley and her crew make that happen with warm greetings for students and teachers. She stays calm, even as she and her people work furiously behind the scenes to create and serve thousands of meals every week,” stated WHS Principal Mike Barwick.

 

A Wakulla County native, Hurley attended Crawfordville Elementary through 8th grade, then attended and graduated from Wakulla High School.  She has seen many changes since her days at WHS, including the new cafeteria that she now works in.

 

In 2016, Hurley started substituting in various Wakulla County Schools cafeterias. By 2017 she became a Field Manager working on nutrition with the Wakulla School District.  

 

Currently she is Cafeteria Manager at WHS.

 

“I love coming to work each day to feed the students at our high school. It brings me so much joy to see them eating our carefully prepared food offerings.

 

I also have an amazing staff and we work great as a team.  The administrators at the District Office are also great to work with,” Hurley noted.

 

One of her favorite events is working with students on the annual Nutrition Future Chefs Competition.

 

Hurley is a member of the Florida Nutrition Association and is a Safety and Wellness liaison between WHS and the District Office.

 

“Katrina Hurley is an overall outstanding manager with the ability to do anything put before her.  She challenges herself and strives for perfection. 

 

She has grown as we changed the way her kitchen operates with the best practices to serve the students of Wakulla County. Working with Katrina has been awesome,” says Lisa McCloudy, General Manager of Wakulla County Schools for Sodexo Nutrition and School Services. 

September 4, 2019

 

After the devastating shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018, Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce and school officials all knew there had to be more that could be done for Wakulla’s students in need of mental health services.

 

“No one wanted to think that something like this could happen in our own back yard, but we understood that we had to expand our interventions for students facing mental health issues,” said Superintendent Pearce.

 

“We began from a place of student safety first, just two weeks after the shooting.  Wakulla County Sheriff Jared Miller and Wakulla County School Board collaborated to add 6 new School Resource Officers so that every public school in the district has a trained, armed SRO on site.  Wakulla High has two SROs.

 

In addition, three School Guardians were hired for the 2019-2020 school year, adding one retired law enforcement officer each at Wakulla High, Riversprings Middle, and Wakulla Middle.

 

But student safety measures are not enough.  We are acutely aware that with close to 5,000 students, there are students with mental health issues that must be addressed for the sake of that student and for all others he or she is in contact with.

 

This year our expansion includes adding more mental health services for students and educating all faculties and staffs on what to look for and how to refer students for help.  

 

Our school counselors are fantastic at working on individual and group therapy plans for the majority of students they see, but even they advocated for more licensed mental health workers to refer students to who would have expertise in available treatments beyond what public schools can offer.

 

We are good at identifying students who need mental health help, but then what when a student has thoughts of harm to self or others?” asked Superintendent Pearce.  

 

With last year’s state funding for student mental health, Superintendent Pearce created the position of Mental Health Coordinator, now occupied by Belinda McElroy, former Wakulla principal, assistant principal and teacher.

 

McElroy oversees this year’s additional $213,000 earmarked for Student Mental Health Services for Wakulla County students.  

 

“With the additional money, we have hired two Registered Clinical Social Worker Interns (RCSWI) who work alongside our Licensed Clinical Social Worker Jana McCommon.  RCSWIs Angie Still and Nikki Hummel are both masters level social workers finishing their PhD’s in counseling. 

 

In addition, we have expanded our relationships with agencies we were already working with such as Capital City Youth Services (CCYS), DISC Village (drug intervention and mental health counseling), BMC (Behavior Management Consultants) and the FSU Multidisciplinary Center, which provides us with psychology interns finishing advanced degrees,” noted McElroy. 

 

Also available are an Art Therapist and a Music Therapist. 

 

The Wakulla County Health Department is also an important partner with Wakulla public schools in educating adults and children on mental and physical health.

 

Parental awareness and support are paramount to a student’s well-being.  Parents and legal guardians are informed of any concerns the school has and are partners in any suggested interventions.

 

There is no cost to parents or guardians for services provided through the Wakulla County School Board.

 

“The school’s Guidance Counselor or Dean of Student Services is the first person to contact for parents, teachers, and fellow students concerned about their own or another student’s mental health issues.

 

If our school counselors or deans are concerned about harm to self or others, they have protocol that they follow and resources they can access.  Parents are immediately brought into the loop,” says McElroy, who also consults with Jim Griner, WCSB Safety and Risk Manager.

 

School counselors, deans, and assistant principals also know to inform the school’s principal of a concern. 

 

Interventions range from Tier I to Tier III.

 

Tier I interventions include educating the WCSB adults in the lives of students, including teachers, counselors, administrators, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, food service personnel, and maintenance workers.  

 

Each adult attended a 5 hour training last year or will be trained this year on “Youth Mental Health First Aid”.  

 

“You never know who a child might confide in. Especially in our tight-knit community, chances are someone in that child’s life knows something about him or her that is cause for concern,” added Superintendent Pearce.

 

Tier I is an awareness level that includes “see something, say something” for adults and students alike so that early interventions can be applied if needed.  Examples of Tier I programs are SAVE (Substance Abuse and Violence Education) and PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Support). 

 

Tier II includes targeted interventions through SEL (Social-Emotional Learning), and small support groups on areas such as managing grief and loss; conflict resolution; anger management; and coping with anxiety, depression, and/or time-management.  School counselors are running groups on an ‘as needs’ basis.

 

Tier III includes intensive interventions with individual counseling, typically provided on a weekly basis by a licensed mental health professional.  

 

In severe cases of suicidal thoughts or harm to others ideation, Licensed Clinical Social Worker Jana McCommon or a School Resource Officer can “Baker Act” a student.  The Baker Act allows health and safety professionals to order that an individual who is a threat to himself or to others be involuntarily held for a psychiatric evaluation for up to 72 hours in certain designated health facilities like Apalachee Mental Health Center.

 

“We want parents and guardians to know that we are on their side in wanting the best for their children.  Their permission for interventions is sought, and there is education available to them on various issues they encounter with their children.

 

We are in this together for the mental health and safety of all our children,” concluded Superintendent Pearce.

August 28, 2019

 

Will Pafford, Wakulla High School’s Head Wrestling Coach, recently won the State Coach of the Year Award from the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA).

 

In addition, Assistant WHS Wrestling Coach James Vernon was named Florida’s Assistant Coach of the Year.

 

After winning the 2019 District and Regional Wrestling Championships, Pafford led the Wakulla War Eagle Wrestling Team to a Class 1A dual state runner-up title, sending 10 wrestlers to state competition. 

 

No stranger to awards, Pafford also has been named the All Big-Bend Coach of the Year for his third consecutive season.  In his eight years as head coach, he has coached the WHS wrestlers to eight district titles.

 

Pafford’s career dual record is 129-23.

 

Prior to being hired as head coach at Wakulla High, Pafford spent four years as a teacher and assistant wrestling coach at Lincoln High School and one as assistant coach at Florida High.

 

The NWCA took notice of Wakulla High’s coaching success over the years in awarding him and Vernon these honors.  

 

Pafford credits the founders of WHS Wrestling, coaches Buddy Tomaini and Bob Murphy, for the “amazing foundation” WHS was built on.  He also praises Wakulla County’s middle school coaches Daron Harvey, Shannon Smith, and Ethan Brown for building wrestling interest and skill in young athletes.

 

Furthermore, “Wakulla High School Assistant Coaches James Vernon and Jon Sanchez do an incredible job supporting the growth of our wrestling team,” notes Pafford.

 

Families of the wrestlers are also appreciated by the coaches.

 

”I have learned so much about parenthood watching them raise their children over the years,” credits Pafford.

 

Adds Vernon, “Hard practices, dedication, travel, expenses, injuries, victories and losses are all shared by parents and their children in this sport.”

 

Besides thanking the wrestlers and their families for their support, it is not lost on Pafford or Vernon that their own families have to sacrifice the time that coaching takes away from them.

 

“Throughout the year, coaching takes around 26 Saturdays away from the family.  Without the amazing support from all the coaches’ wives and families, we would never be able to focus on the team like we do,” says Pafford. 

 

Adds Vernon, “Thank you to my family and to the Wakulla County Administration, especially Superintendent Pearce, WHS Principal Mike Barwick, and WHS Athletic Director Mike Smith. They build such a solid foundation for support in both academics and athletics.”

 

Both Pafford and Vernon are educators as well as coaches. Pafford has been a WHS History and Economics teacher for eight years, and Vernon was a WHS Economics teacher for 12 years before becoming an administrator at Wakulla Institute for the past three years.

 

The NWCA is a non-profit organization established in 1928 for the “advancement of all levels of the sport of wrestling with a primary emphasis on developing coaches who work in academic environments.  

 

The three core competencies of the NWCA are: coaching development, student-athlete welfare, and the promotion of wrestling,” according to the organization.

 

“These men and so many of our coaches influence our students in numerous ways.  They understand the importance of increasing a student’s athletic skills, but without the attention to academics, students will not have the skills they need to succeed after high school.  

 

I am also impressed by the way Coach Pafford, Coach Vernon, and our many educators and coaches realize that they are modeling behavior for our pre-teens and teens.  

 

Congratulations to these two men on awards well-deserved,” concludes Superintendent Bobby Pearce.  

Pat Jones, Tanya English and Lori Sandgren are recognized

August 19, 2019

 

Superintendent Bobby Pearce and the Wakulla County School Board members were pleased to honor Wakulla’s District Administrators of the Year for 2018-2019 at the August 19 School Board Meeting. 

 

District-Level Administrators of the Year are Pat Jones, Tanya English, and Lori Sandgren. 

 

“These district administrators are to be commended for their hard work behind the scenes.  What these three have in common are putting students first in their decision-making, plus never quitting until a job is done.  They are often the first to arrive and the last to leave.  They definitely share a part of our district’s ‘A’ rating with our school administrators, faculties and students,” said Superintendent Pearce.

 

PAT JONES

 

The first District-Level Administrator of the Year is Pat Jones, Coordinator of Transportation.  She is involved in almost every aspect of school life. 

 

Her purview ranges from making sure every single child on Wakulla’s bus routes is picked up and delivered home safely, to maintaining a fleet of buses and vans, to assuring that all of her drivers feel appreciated and are well trained for any situation that might arise.   

 

Now in her 45th year of working for the Wakulla County School System, “Miss Pat”, as she is fondly called, began her career in 1974 as Secretary for Vocational Education.  From there she became an Administrative Secretary for Transportation, and since 1981 to the present has been Coordinator of Transportation. 

 

Known for her attention to detail, Jones can be found pouring over the bus routes for the regular school year months ahead of the first day of school in August.  All this while successfully transporting hundreds of students in June and July for summer programs with a completely different schedule of drivers, routes and vehicles.

 

“Because she runs the Transportation Department so smoothly, many people don’t realize that the job of transporting students for athletics and for field trips has a life of its own.  How she gets everyone when and where they are supposed to be is a testament to her dedication.  She will never give up until a problem is solved,” noted Superintendent Pearce. 

 

In addition, she is known to be supportive of her drivers, reminding them that they are “the first to see a child and the last to see that child, so you are responsible for how their day begins and ends.”  Because she encourages that connection, children and adults alike in Wakulla remember who their drivers were and how they made them feel welcome on their buses. 

 

With high 90’s percent of Wakulla’s students using WCSB transportation every year, her department knows that she has driven many routes herself when she was short on drivers. There is not a job in Transportation that she has not done herself or closely supervised.

 

“Mrs. Jones is definitely a high performing member of our staff.  On top of all the regular routes she supervises, she also works closely with Mrs. English, Executive Director of Exceptional Student Education and Student Services.  Often they work together to find a transportation solution that is outside the box for meeting ESE students’ needs,” said Superintendent Pearce.

 

Jones stays current on transportation safety issues and on technology that can make her department more efficient.  She successfully managed implementation of the Versatran transportation computer system.  

 

She also implemented a “Tablets on the Bus” program for elementary students who had the longest rides to use computers with educational programs on them. Then Jones made sure those tablets were used during the day in classrooms. 

 

Throughout her career, Jones has been Chairman of the Community Traffic Safety Team; a key person on the Re-zoning Committees; and secured a grant to buy Driver’s Ed. simulators for Wakulla High School.

 

“There is not a transportation problem she can’t solve, but what makes employees and administrators respect her are her great people skills. We are fortunate to have her in charge of Transportation,” noted Superintendent Pearce.

 

TANYA ENGLISH

 

Tanya English, District-Level Administrator of the Year, has an expansive resume from working in Wakulla schools as a teacher, school administrator and district administrator.  She has over 35 years of experience as an educator in Wakulla County, and a total of 38 years in education.

 

English earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from FSU and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership.  Plus, she earned the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Endorsement.

 

Her Wakulla career spans teaching at Shadeville Elementary School, working as Curriculum Coordinator at Crawfordville Elementary School, 10 years as Assistant Principal and three as Principal at CES before she was hired in 2007 as a district-level administrator.  

 

As Executive Director of ESE (Exceptional Student Education) and Student Services for the past 12 years, English is involved in almost every aspect of students’ special needs.  She makes sure every ESE and ESOL student has what is specified on their IEP (Individualized Education Plan), including educational support, plus any special transportation, medical, and nutritional requirements. 

 

The scope of her work ranges from providing for Gifted students and teachers who want to earn the Gifted Endorsement, to supporting Homeless students, to managing McKay scholarships for ESE students, to making sure Hospital/Homebound students get the educational services they need. 

 

She also supervises three Staffing Specialists; the teacher for Vision Impaired and Orientation Mobility; the teacher for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students; Speech Therapists; the Regional and Local Assistive Technology Specialist; and three Licensed Clinical Social Workers.  She is also responsible for any other specialists who come on campuses to help students.   

 

In addition, English is responsible for writing and executing federal and state grants.  She also must keep current on legal matters and works with other administrators in the district to make sure they are aware of laws regarding students’ needs. 

 

The Student Services part of her job entails working with school guidance counselors.  She is also on the Wakulla Schools Wellness Task Force, plus she supports Special Olympics and works closely with Belinda McElroy, Mental Health Services Coordinator for Wakulla County students. 

 

From 2016 to the present she has served as a mentor to new ESE directors through the Institute for Small and Rural Districts.  In addition, she is a member of the state and national CASE (Council for Administrators of Special Education), and is a member of the CEC (Council for Exceptional Children).  

 

English also has served on the board of Wakulla County Coalition for Youth.  In 2018 she received the Ecclesia Outreach and Community Partnership Award for Helping those in Need from the Coalition. 

 

“Mrs. English is a solution-oriented problem solver who puts the needs of students as her first priority. She is also great at mentoring others and keeping our school administrators in the loop on ESE and Student Services issues,” said Superintendent Pearce.

 

LORI SANDGREN

 

Lori Sandgren, Curriculum Coordinator for Wakulla County Schools, is in her 22nd year as an educator in Wakulla.  She is also a District-Level Administrator of the Year for 2018-2019.

 

Sandgren earned a bachelor’s degree in English Education for Grades 6 through 12 from FSU.  In addition, she holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and earned the Reading Endorsement.

 

She brings experience to her current job, beginning with eight years of teaching at Wakulla Middle School, three years as a Wakulla High School English and Reading teacher; six years as the Reading Coach for WHS; one year as Associate Dean of Instruction for Wakulla Institute; and one year as Dean at Wakulla Institute.

 

She currently is in her third year as Curriculum Coordinator for Wakulla County Schools.

 

“Lori has outdone herself as Curriculum Coordinator for the district.  She has shown her versatility as an educator,” said Sunny Chancy, Chief Academic Officer.

 

In addition to her teaching resume, Sandgren brings experience managing organizations, their budgets, and the many details that go into running successful JV and Varsity Cheerleading squads.  She has been the WMS Activities Coordinator and the WHS Student Council Sponsor as well.  

 

Sandgren also runs the Wakulla Summer Reading Camps that help second and third grade students who struggled in their prior year be better prepared for their next school year.

 

“Because of the stellar work she does running the Summer Reading Camps, she and the summer school teachers help many students who may have been retained be promoted to the next grade level.  She understands what a child needs to be a better reader.

 

Her optimistic attitude and supportive way of working with teachers and administrators make her a perfect fit for this job,” added Chancy. 

 

“Each one of these three people is an important part of the success of Wakulla County Schools.  They are all efficient and effective; however, the most important qualities they all have are positive attitudes, love for our students, and highly effective skills communicating with adults.  We are happy to honor them,” concluded Superintendent Pearce.

 

Employee of the Year and School-Level Administrators of the Year will be honored at the September Wakulla County School Board meeting. 

July 11, 2019

Wakulla County School District earned an “A” rating and had the eighth highest district score in the state of all 67 public school districts in Florida for the number of points possible in the 2018-2019 school year. 


In addition, Wakulla continued its “A” grade designation for the third year in a row.


District and school grades were released by the Florida Department of Education on July 11. 


“To have the eighth highest district score in the state for the number of points possible earned in Florida’s grading system speaks to the dedication of our teachers, students, administrators, and parents,” stated Superintendent Bobby Pearce.


Wakulla was eighth in number of points earned after St. John’s, Sarasota, Nassau, Lafayette, Okaloosa, Walton, and Santa Rosa public school districts.


In addition, Wakulla was the second highest ranking school district to earn an “A” in PAEC (the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium) of 14 school districts: Calhoun, FAMU DRS, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington. Only Walton had more points than Wakulla.

 

“Teachers and staff making those personal connections with students is what makes the difference in students wanting to do their best.  You can give students what they need to know, but they respond tenfold when their teachers really care about their success.


“We celebrate this “A” rating, and we are already planning for areas that need improvement,” said Pearce.


Individual school grades are:

 

“A” - Crawfordville Elementary School, Shadeville Elementary School, Wakulla Middle School, Wakulla High School

 

“B” - Riversink Elementary School and Riversprings Middle School

 

“C” - Medart Elementary School

 

“D”- COAST Independent Charter School, whose grade also factors into the Wakulla district grade


Students in grades 3 through 10 were assessed on English Language Arts (ELA) and Math standards.  In addition, students were  assessed on Science in Grades 5 and 8; Biology in high school; and Social Studies for Grade 7 in Civics and Grade 11 in U.S. History. 

 

There are 11 categories in which school districts earn points for a district grade designation.   These include the percent of students who “pass” the tests with a 3 or higher on a scale of 1 to 5. 

 

“Just as important as scoring a 3 or higher is digging into how much of a Learning Gain each student makes from year. Struggling students get intensive help, and students who can achieve higher than a passing score of 3 are challenged to aim for 4’s and 5’s.

 

“Teachers are already dissecting the Learning Gains of their past and upcoming students to see what sub-categories in each standard could be taught more effectively,” added Pearce.

 

Other categories besides test scores helped Wakulla School District earn an “A”.  Riversprings Middle School and Wakulla Middle School combined for Wakulla’s “Middle School Acceleration Rate”.

 

Middle School Acceleration is defined as the percentage of middle school students who pass high school End of Course (EOC) exams such as Algebra 1 and Geometry to earn high school credit. In addition, it counts those students who earn Industry Certifications such as Microsoft Office Specialist.


“We also concentrate on the ‘Graduation Rate’ cell that is part of the District Grade.  This is the percent of students who graduate within four years of entering Wakulla High School as 9th graders.  Some students thrive with different types of instruction such as virtual classes or smaller settings, so there are individualized pathways to graduation,” said Sunny Chancy, Chief Academic Officer.


Wakulla High School students also added to the “A” district grade in the category of business-recognized Industry Certifications earned in Career and Technical classes.  For example, there is usually a 100% passing rate of students in the WHS Medical Academy who earn their Certified Nursing Assistant credentials while in high school.


Dual Enrollment college credit classes passed also add to the District Grade.  Advanced Placement courses whose students pass the final standardized AP test for college credit are also factored in.


“We have more and more students graduating with college credits and even finishing their AA (Associate of Arts) degrees before high school graduation, at no college tuition expense to their parents,” added Pearce.


Percent tested is also considered. Wakulla tested 99 percent of its students.  Districts cannot earn an “A” grade unless they test at least 95 percent of their students.


“Although it is not our only measure of success, it is rewarding to be designated an ‘A’ school district by state standards.  We look forward to meeting the high goals we are already setting for the 2019-2020 school year.

 

“Thank you to the dedicated faculties and staffs at each school, plus the supportive parents and Wakulla community that truly make this a celebration of our children and their futures,” said Pearce.

July 5, 2019

 

Wakulla County public school students met or exceeded Florida’s state averages in 19 of 21 areas tested on the recently released 2019 state assessment results from the Florida Department of Education.

 

Used for comparison are public school districts in Florida’s 67 counties.

 

The 9 surrounding public school districts used for comparison are: Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla.

 

Scores are based on the “percent proficient”, meaning the percent of students testing at or above grade level.  On a scale of 1 to 5, Level 3 is considered satisfactorily on grade level, with Levels 4 and 5 considered above grade level.

 

 Wakulla County public school students ranked top ten in the State and top three in the Region for:

 

 

In grades 3 through 8, tests scores include two areas: English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics.

 

Ninth and 10th graders are tested on English Language Arts. 

 

Math tests for some middle school and high school students include Algebra 1 and Geometry End of Course (EOC) exams.

 

In addition, test results include 5th and 8th grade Science; 7th grade Civics; 11th grade U.S. History; and high school Biology.

 

These state tests are important to students for many reasons. In third grade, ELA scores are used by the state for promotion to 4th grade. 

 

In two other areas, scoring a Level 3 or higher is a state high school graduation requirement: Algebra 1 and 10th Grade English Language Arts.

 

“We celebrate the improvements from year to year; however, we are already strategizing about subjects and grade levels where we can improve. Sharing the most effective methods for increasing student achievement is key to Wakulla’s success,” said Superintendent Bobby Pearce.

 

“Also, teachers and administrators dissect test results of their upcoming students to help us all plan for the 2019-2020 school year,” added Chief Instructional Officer Sunny Chancy.  

 

School and district test results are available on the Florida Department of Education website. 

 

“Individual student test results are ready for parents to view in the student’s Focus portal. Parents can pick up paper copies at the schools at a later date during the summer when they are released by the state,” according to Director of Special Programs and Assessment Krista Sharin.

 

“Our educators, students and parents are to be commended on the hard work they do every day to achieve these results,” noted Superintendent Pearce.

June 20, 2019

 

Riversink Elementary’s Facility Staff earned the annual “Magic Carpet” award for the best maintained school in the Wakulla County School District.

 

Each year WCSB Executive Director of Facilities and Maintenance Randy Bristol and his staff select a school based on inspections by all the schools’ foremen.

 

“Foreman Charlie Peltier and his crew do an excellent job not only maintaining our facilities, but also interacting well with students and staff. They go the extra mile to really listen and respond to our maintenance needs,” said Riversink Principal Simeon Nelson.

 

RES Foreman Peltier accepted the award at the June 17 School Board Meeting along with his colleagues Dennis Franklin and Ron Parker. Also on the RES facility staff are Mike Weeks and Latonya Gavin.

 

“Randy Bristol and his staff take pride in maintaining clean, environmentally friendly schools inside and out. They are hard at work right now in the heat of summer making sure everything shines for our Open Houses in August.

 

“All of our schools’ Facilities and Maintenance crews do a great job. Congratulations to Riversink Elementary for this well-deserved award,” added Superintendent Bobby Pearce.

June 20, 2019

 

Wakulla High School upcoming senior Alexandra “Ally” Harden was honored as Wakulla School District’s 2019 Sunshine State Scholar at a conference in Orlando on June 13 and 14.

 

She was one of 103 juniors statewide to earn this award.

 

The annual conference was sponsored by such entities as Lockheed Martin, AT&T, KYRA Solutions, the Florida Department of Education, and Florida’s state colleges and universities, who celebrated the accomplishments of Florida’s elite students and provided a venue for the state’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) businesses, colleges, and universities to recruit their talents.

 

Every year, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Education Foundation request each Florida school district to recommend one high achieving eleventh grade STEM student to join this prestigious group of peers.

 

Harden was chosen by a WHS committee because of her outstanding academic record, her interest in math and science, plus her nearly perfect ACT and SAT college entrance exam scores.

 

She started taking high school math and science courses while in middle school and now has a perfect 4.0 unweighted grade point average and a weighted grade point average of 4.41.

 

Taking the toughest math and science courses at WHS, Harden just completed Advanced Placement Calculus 1 and Advanced Placement Statistics, plus has excelled in WHS Engineering Academy courses Intro to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering.

 

The purpose of the Sunshine State Scholars event is to show these top performing STEM students what Florida has to offer them in terms of in-state STEM college programs and STEM careers.

 

At the two-day event, Florida’s colleges and universities, plus employers in STEM fields, set up booths to show what they have to offer and to recruit these talented students.

 

“This year’s program also brought 103 high school STEM scholars together to conduct a ‘think tank’ on tough Florida challenges,” according to the Florida Department of Education.

 

In addition, the program honored each scholar for their significant academic accomplishments and celebrated the potential they represent for Florida.

 

Successful in Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment math, science, English, social studies and other courses, Harden will graduate in 2020 already having earned many college credits.

 

A well-rounded student, Harden was a member of the 2019 WHS Odyssey of the Mind Team that qualified for World Finals by using their STEM skills in the world’s largest creative problem-solving competition.

 

“She also runs Cross Country for WHS, is on the WHS Soccer Team, in the National Honor Society and in the WHS Engineering Academy. It’s rare to be able to juggle so many areas successfully. Ally gives her all to everything she attempts,” said WHS Principal Mike Barwick.

 

Harden is the daughter of Charles and Holly Harden.

 

“As one of our own who attended Crawfordville Elementary, Riversprings Middle School, and now Wakulla High School, we are so proud of all that Ally has accomplished and look forward to following her continuing success in a STEM field,” added Superintendent Bobby Pearce.

June 17, 2019

 

Sandra Campbell of Medart Elementary School was honored as June Employee of the Month at the Wakulla County School Board Meeting on June 17. She represents the WCSB Facilities and Maintenance Department.

 

Campbell is entering her 14th year as a “Medart Mustang” custodian. Although she grew up in Wakulla, she relocated for years but returned to Wakulla County in 2006 to help take care of her mother.

 

A Wakulla High School graduate who also attended Shadeville Elementary School kindergarten through 8th grade, she felt that the Wakulla County School System was a perfect fit for her.

 

“I could sense a great deal of unity from within the system. The atmosphere was extremely welcoming. I felt it could be an amazing opportunity for me. I am not going anywhere until I retire from Medart.

 

“I feel my biggest reward as a custodian comes from the satisfaction and appreciation I am shown in my daily interaction with others. I have created many healthy and professional relationships with students as well as teachers.

 

“I truly value the sense of respect I am consistently shown. This really plays a big part in making my employment pleasurable for me,” said Campbell.

 

“Sandra Campbell is a hard worker and gets along with her co-workers. She is a joyful person to be around and she has a heart of gold to want to help anyone she can,” says Campbell’s supervisor Gary Estes.

 

“You can't help but smile when you interact with Mrs. Sandra. She comes to work each day with a positive attitude and is willing to help wherever she is needed. She demonstrates a genuine love for her Medart Elementary family,” agreed MES Principal Stan Ward.

 

Added Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “I have been a fan of Sandra Campbell’s since working with her for years when I was principal at Medart. She has a great attitude, loves children, means a lot to her team, and is very deserving of this recognition by her peers.”

May 31, 2019

 

Wakulla High School Odyssey of the Mind Team A competed in the World Finals of the world’s largest creative problem-solving competition on May 22-25 at Michigan State University.

 

This year, the 40th annual World Finals hosted 825 teams of over 6,000 students from 25 countries and 47 states.

 

Wakulla came in 12th out of the 45 teams that competed in their category (Technical) and age division (Grades 9 – 12). They left with “a cultural experience they will never forget,” said Coach Christopher Stearns.

 

The winning 2019 WHS team consisted of senior Jake Greene; juniors Abigail Gray, Ally Harden, Zoie Hill, Jay Jacob, and Ashiera Preston; and freshman Abbi Hatfield. Coaches were WHS Engineering Academy teacher Christopher Stearns and WHS Reading Coach Angie Gentry.

 

Two years ago, the first Odyssey team in Wakulla’s ten years of participation made it to World Finals. Five WHS students on the 2019 team were also on that winning 2017 team: Jake Greene, Zoie Hill, Ally Harden, Jay Jacob, and Abigail Gray.

 

“We actually had participants from all over the world remember Wakulla from 2017. It was gratifying to hear ‘Aren’t you from Wakulla? Their team is awesome!’ from strangers. Our students really put Wakulla County Schools on the world map,” stated Stearns.

 

WHS competed against teams including those from Hong Kong, Singapore, Slovakia, China, Mexico, Poland, South Korea and 21 different U.S. states.

 

Each team was paired with another team that they would not be competing against for the duration of the World Finals. Wakulla requested and got a team from Hong Kong. The “buddy teams” lived in the same dorm, ate together, and cheered each other on at their respective competitions.

 

“You would think there would be a language barrier, but most of the students from Hong Kong spoke English, and they taught our students some of their language as well,” added Stearns.

 

Senior Jake Greene even missed his WHS graduation on May 24, choosing to participate in a graduation ceremony held every year at World Finals for seniors who are missing the ceremonies at their own schools.

 

“Our goal was to cheer the loudest of any team when Jake got his diploma. I think we met that goal!” said Stearns.

 

Odyssey of the Mind is a non-profit organization founded in 1978 by Industrial Design professor Dr. Sam Micklus to encourage students to “think outside the box” in finding creative solutions to problems that include technical, mechanical, communication, structural, and performance categories.

 

The Odyssey problems incorporate STEAM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math). NASA sponsors one of the five problems each year and hosts an extensive exhibit at the World Finals.

 

WHS Team A picked the “Technical” problem from the choice of five categories. They had worked on their Long-Term Problem since August, 2018.

 

Students designed, built, and operated an original robot. In addition, they incorporated the robot into a team-created performance.

 

All teams also had a Spontaneous Problem to solve, one they had never seen before. It challenged their ability to work as a team by listening to all possible solutions and executing the best one with input from everyone. All this had a time limit.

 

“We earned points for working well as a team, plus having a lot of creativity in our solutions,” said recent graduate Jake Greene. “Several people even commented that we looked like we were having fun, joking with each other even when under pressure.”

 

“We so appreciate all the support from WHS Principal Mike Barwick and Superintendent Bobby Pearce. Our eyes were opened as to how much support we had compared to some of the teams who had little or no support from their school districts,” said Coach Stearns.

 

“Our parents have been fantastic supporters too. We had one parent who drove all the way to Michigan to bring our props so we didn’t have to ship them.

 

“The other parents paid their own airfare, waiting until we made our team reservations so that they could be on the same flights,” said Stearns. “It was fun on our last flight home to have the flight attendant come over the intercom and give a shout out to our Wakulla team. All the passengers applauded for us!

 

“Also, Odyssey of the Mind encourages community involvement. We are trying to make Odyssey sustainable by fostering partnerships with engineering firms, construction companies, math and science-based professions, as well as with the creative arts people we have in Wakulla.”

 

For some of the WHS team, this was their first time flying, or definitely travelling that far. Besides their exposure to different cultures, they also got to “live the college life” for the week, staying in MSU dorms, eating at the MSU cafeteria, and touring the campus.

 

“I give our students credit for managing their schedules so well all year. It was amazing to see them juggle Band, various sports, Advanced Placement coursework and more.

 

“These are our future leaders who already are all about finding solutions and having the follow through to execute them,” added Coach Gentry.

 

“The WHS Odyssey Team A did a great job representing Wakulla at the World Finals. Once again, our students from a small rural district can compete against anyone from anywhere. Odyssey of the Mind World competition let our students demonstrate that they have the tools to compete on a global level. We are proud of the WHS Odyssey Team and their coaches for advancing so far,” said Superintendent Bobby Pearce. 

May 31, 2019

 

Wakulla County public school third grade scores rank 8th in Florida, 2nd in the Panhandle, and 1st in the Region on the recently released 2019 Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) in English Language Arts (ELA).

 

By Florida state law, third grade is the only mandatory retention grade. Promotion is based on these ELA state test scores.

 

Research from the U.S. Department of Education shows that third grade is the critical time for concentrated reading intervention taught in ELA classes in order to keep students on track for successful progress in school.

 

District scores include those from Crawfordville Elementary, Medart Elementary, Riversink Elementary, Shadeville Elementary and COAST Independent Charter School.

 

The state score rankings include the standard 67 public school districts.

 

Wakulla’s third grade ELA ranking of 8th in the state at 67 percent proficient compares to the state average of 58 percent proficient. Proficiency is defined as scoring at or above grade level with a 3, 4, or 5 on a scale of 1 to 5.

 

Florida’s Panhandle consists of 21 school districts. Wakulla ranks 2nd after Santa Rosa County.

 

Regionally, Wakulla ranks first out of 9 surrounding counties. Other school districts in Wakulla’s region listed in order by scores after Wakulla are Liberty, Calhoun, Leon, Taylor, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison and Gadsden.

 

“I am encouraged by this first round of released scores,” said Superintendent Bobby Pearce. “Not only did our third graders rank high in the State, Panhandle, and Region, their scores also showed improvement from last year’s scores.

 

“We have 10 fewer third grade students than last year who need to attend Summer Reading Camp. This is evidence that our teachers and students are working hard during the school year to meet and exceed the Florida State Standards for third grade ELA.”

 

The Wakulla Third Grade Summer Reading Camp will focus on intense reading and language instruction in small classes with highly skilled elementary teachers working on students’ individual needs. If retained third grade students can meet the state standards by the end of Summer Reading Camp, they may be promoted to fourth grade.

 

“Besides the great efforts of our third grade teachers and students, we believe that another one of the reasons our third graders improved was due to instituting a new Second Grade Summer Reading Camp last summer,” added Superintendent Pearce.

 

“Why wait until our students are struggling readers as the work gets harder in third grade? This Second Grade Summer Reading Camp is a preventative measure to ensure a good start to the next school year. It was successful last summer, so we are continuing it this summer,” noted Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy.

 

These are the first 2019 state test scores released by the Florida Department of Education. Third grade ELA scores are needed this soon in order set up the Third Grade Summer Reading Camp.

 

Parents of children who qualify have been notified about specifics of the Wakulla Summer Reading Camps, which are offered at no cost for instruction, transportation, breakfast and lunch. Curriculum Coordinator Lori Sandgren is supervising the camps.

 

Yet to be released are the rest of the 2019 state ELA and Math scores in grades 3 through 10, plus Science scores in grades 5 and 8.

 

Other state scores coming in will be End of Course (EOC) exam scores in 7th grade Civics, high school Biology, and 11th grade United States History. State EOC exam scores for students in combined grade levels for Algebra 1 and Geometry will be out as well.

 

These additional scores will be released in late June and are the basis for school letter grades assigned by the Florida Department of Education.

 

“We will get a better picture of our school district’s achievements and look at where we can improve when all of the scores are released, but I commend the hard work of our students, teachers, reading coaches, and administrators who put their focus on improving third graders’ reading and language skills every day to get these positive results,” praised Superintendent Pearce.

May 21, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

On May 21, Wakulla Institute and Wakulla Adult Education students participated in a meaningful graduation ceremony at the Wakulla County School District auditorium. 

 

 

 

Wakulla Institute encompasses Wakulla public school alternative programs such as Pathways and Virtual School. Administrator James Vernon runs the day-to-day operation of the Institute.

 

 

 

The 2019 high school graduates from Wakulla Institute are Garett Myers and Whitney Paul.

 

 

 

The 2019 Adult Education graduates are Aidan Atkins, Maura Bartlow, Reagan Corley, Hailey Crum, Bryce Durocher, Rachelle Freeman, Ryleigh Freeman, Isaiah Hamilton, Brittany Harris, Alyssa Johnson, Cassidy Josephson, Leah Lines, Jaycee Mosley, Haley Myrick, Elliott Peavy, Patches Rakes, Alexah Rosier, Nichole Sammons, Leah Sanders, Raine Skalak, Jodie Tanner, Stella Treadway, Brittany Tucker, Hannah White, Josiah White and Jack Wiles.

 

 

 

Wakulla’s Adult Education program is run by Director Dod Walker.

 

 

 

Travis Cronan, Youth Pastor at Crawfordville Baptist Church, was the guest speaker.

 

 

 

Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy and Program Specialist Vicki Benton, along with Mr. Vernon, Dean Vicki Tillman and Mr. Walker, work with all of the Wakulla Institute and Wakulla Adult Education students to design individualized programs for their maximum success.

 

 

 

“These graduates will go on to pursue careers with the confidence that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to,” said Superintendent Bobby Pearce, who awarded the diplomas.

 

 

 

Families, friends, teachers, staff, and administrators celebrated with the graduates afterward at a reception held in their honor. 

May 20, 2019

 

 

 

At their May 20 meeting, the Wakulla County School Board recognized Hillari Talana Dugger as the May 2019 Employee of the Month.

 

 

 

Employed in the WCSB Transportation Department for the past eight years, Dugger has been a van driver, secretary, and now holds the position of Administrative Secretary to Transportation Coordinator Pat Jones.

 

 

 

“She is my left hand and my right hand, always keeping me straight.  She is dependable, responsible and trustworthy,” praises Jones.

 

 

 

Before her employment in the Transportation Department, Dugger worked as a teacher assistant at Shadeville Elementary School, at Wakulla Education Center Pre-Kindergarten, and then at Sopchoppy Pre-K.

 

 

 

A native of Wakulla County, Dugger attended Sopchoppy Elementary School, Wakulla Middle School, and graduated from Wakulla High School.

 

 

 

One of the requirements for her current job is to hold a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) in case she has to substitute as a bus driver.  This often happens with all the daily routes, extra-curriculars transportation, and over 1,000 field trips per year.

 

 

 

Attending Wakulla County schools plus having all her teacher assistant experiences put her in a unique position of knowing so many children, parents, and community members.

 

 

 

“Growing up in Wakulla County, I find that on just about every bus, I seem to know someone or their parent, grandparent or other relative.  This makes starting a conversation with the students easy and always seems to make the bus ride go better.

 

 

 

“At the Bus Garage, we all wear many hats: secretary, bus driver, van driver, bus attendant, and occasionally we can pinch hit as a mechanic, but only when the mechanics let us! 

 

 

 

“I really love the people I work with.  They have the ability to make a crazy, hectic, down right horrible day into a great one with their humor,” says Dugger.

 

 

 

“Talana Dugger has the ability to relate effectively to parents, drivers, bus attendants, mechanics, and principals in completing her daily tasks.  She has an enormous job every day keeping up with all of our transportation responsibilities.

 

 

 

“In addition, she is responsible for our payroll, which she does with superior record keeping.  The thing that impresses me the most is the wonderful attitude she displays while completing all the duties assigned to her.  She believes in giving an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay,” adds Jones.

 

 

 

“Talana is certainly an asset to the Transportation Department and to our whole school district,” says Superintendent Bobby Pearce. 

 

 

 

“She is a true example of the idea that any task can be performed, but doing even the most difficult task with a great attitude makes all the difference.  We appreciate her service and are happy to be able to honor her.” 

May 17, 2019

 

 

 

Crawfordville Elementary School first grade teacher Kirsten Brazier has been passionate about using the environment to teach her students since she began her career 12 years ago.

 

 

 

Brazier’s work with the national, and now worldwide, Project Learning Tree program has been so highly regarded that she was recently selected as a “2019 National Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator of the Year”. Annually, only five teachers nationwide receive this award.

 

 

 

In 2018, she was named the “2018 Florida PLT Educator of the Year”.

 

 

 

PLT is one of the most widely used pre-kindergarten through 12th grade environmental education programs in the United States. Now Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Uruguay use the PLT curriculum as well.

 

 

 

In the U.S., PLT grew out of the first National Environment Education Act in 1970, also the year of the first Earth Day.

 

 

 

“Wakulla County schools made an effort to get every elementary school teacher PLT-certified ten years ago. I was one of those teachers,” Brazier noted.

 

 

 

Now she is the PLT School Coordinator for CES. She supports teachers at every grade level in using PLT lessons to connect students with the outdoors while reinforcing concepts they are already learning in their other subjects.

 

 

 

Brazier encourages new teachers to attend PLT trainings and organizes PLT Week, an annual event with a wide range of activities for all students and community members that has a goal of growing awareness of environmental issues in Wakulla County.

 

 

 

She uses nature to engage students in learning from growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers to studying caterpillars and butterflies attracted to the gardens. Students participate in a schoolwide recycling program and learn the many ways in which they can help take care of the environment and why it is so critical to the future they will live in.

 

 

 

“I mostly use our own schoolyard. We have a field and a wooded area behind CES that gives our students many opportunities to observe nature. We have also used the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge for lessons because they have an excellent environmental education center,” Brazier added.

 

 

 

“We are grateful to all our PLT-trained teachers who engage their students in learning about the environment and use it to make the connection in all of their subjects – math, science, reading, art and more.

 

 

 

“Mrs. Brazier has taken the PLT program to the next level by ensuring that new teachers and the next generation of teachers sitting in her classroom today become as enthusiastic about taking care of our environment as she is. Congratulations on her well-deserved award,” said Superintendent Bobby Pearce.

One senior will graduate at the competition

 

May 10, 2019

 

Wakulla High School’s Odyssey of the Mind team is excited enough after winning at State competition, qualifying them for World Finals May 22-25 at Michigan State University.

 

But the choice to miss the WHS graduation ceremony May 24 or miss competing at World Finals was a tough one for senior Jake Greene and his family.

 

Greene will now participate in a graduation ceremony held every year at World Finals for seniors who are missing the ceremonies at their own schools.

 

“It was a hard decision for Jake, but he went to World Finals with WHS in 2017 and really wants to be there for his team,” said Maggie Greene, Jake’s mother. She will accompany the team to Michigan to watch her son graduate. Jake’s father Travis Greene will be home taking care of the rest of the family, but hopes to watch the graduation ceremony via video.

 

The 40th annual World Finals will host 825 teams of over 6,000 students. WHS will compete with students from 47 states and 25 countries in the world’s largest creative problem-solving competition.

 

The winning 2019 WHS team consists of senior Jake Greene; juniors Abigail Gray, Ally Harden, Zoie Hill, Jay Jacob, and Ashiera Preston; and freshman Abbi Hatfield. Coaches are WHS Engineering Academy teacher Christopher Stearns and WHS Reading Coach Angie Gentry.

 

Two years ago, the first Odyssey team in Wakulla’s ten years of participation made it to World Finals. Five WHS students on the 2019 team were also on that winning 2017 team: Jake Greene, Zoie Hill, Ally Harden, Jay Jacob, and Abigail Gray.

 

“It was an awesome cultural experience for Jake and the whole WHS team two years ago. They were paired with students from Poland last time and made lifelong friends.

 

“This year WHS has requested being paired with Hong Kong. Jake and the team have worked all year towards this Odyssey goal, and he wanted to see it through. We respect his choice,” Mrs. Greene added.

 

Besides carrying a current weighted grade point average of 3.73, Jake has been a WHS Band member for four years playing the saxophone, plus was in Band at Riversprings Middle School all three years. He recently earned the award of Special Achievement in Band from WHS Band Director Elizabeth McManus.

 

“We appreciate all the support from WHS Principal Mike Barwick and Superintendent Bobby Pearce regarding our Odyssey World Finals accomplishment, and their understanding of how important both participating in the WHS Graduation ceremony and competing in World Finals are to Jake,” said Coach Stearns. 

May 3, 2019

 

Wakulla High School juniors Jack Parker and Savannah Brown have been chosen to represent Wakulla County at Boys State and Girls State, respectively.

 

Mason McCord is first alternate for Boys State and Gracie Bruce is first alternate for Girls State.

 

Additional alternates for Boys State include WHS juniors Daniel Wiedeman, Jacob Rardin, and Wilson Bruce.

 

The American Legion and Auxiliary sponsor Boys State and Girls State, which are educational programs of government instruction for U.S. high school students. They are participatory programs in which students become part of the operation of local, county, and state government.

 

Florida’s Boys State will be held June 16-22. Girls State will be June 6-14. Both are at Florida State University.

 

Students will run for offices in a fictional city, county and state where they choose their own officials in accordance with election procedures.

 

Instruction will also be presented on the law and court system, parliamentary procedure, and Florida political history.

 

Participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of being U.S. citizens. In addition, there are some college scholarships awarded at the end of each session.

 

Students were chosen to represent their districts after filling out lengthy applications and interviewing face to face with regional American Legions and Auxiliaries. They were selected by the Jake Pigott Memorial American Legion Post and Auxiliary 114 in Wakulla County.

 

Wakulla’s Boys State representative Jack Parker maintains a perfect 4.0 unweighted grade point average as a dual enrollment student with WHS and Tallahassee Community College.

 

He works as the computer aided manufacturing specialist for the WHS Engineering Academy and has extensive experience in 3D modeling, drafting, 3D printing, and laser engraving with a 40-watt gas-state CO2 laser.

 

In addition, Parker is a founding member of the WHS Environmental Club, a drone pilot for the Alligator Point and St. Teresa Volunteer Fire Department, and an assistant for the WHS 4H STEM Club.

 

Savannah Brown was selected due to her extensive participation in WHS organizations such as Junior Class officer, National Honor Society, Student Government, Odyssey of the Mind, and AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), all while maintaining a 3.41 unweighted GPA.

 

Brown also earned the WHS War Eagle Award for Softball, plus stays busy outside of school by coaching softball, baseball, and football at Medart Rec Park, in addition to officiating at volleyball tournaments.

 

She is also a dual enrollment student at TCC, has won the highest GPA awards for science and math, and is a member of the WHS Thespian Society.

 

Wakulla’s Boys State alternate Mason McCloud also has an extensive resume, including a 4.0 unweighted GPA in advanced and college dual enrollment classes. He started a network of Honors students who volunteer to do odd jobs in the community.

 

McCloud is also captain of the WHS Cross Country Team and volunteers coaching WHS Special Olympics teams.

 

Girls State alternate Gracie Bruce is a member of the National Honor Society and maintains a 3.93 unweighted GPA in Honors, Advanced Placement, and college dual enrollment classes.

 

Bruce also coaches soccer at Medart Rec Park, referees and umpires soccer and baseball games there, plus is a member of the WHS Cross Country, Soccer, and Flag Football teams.

 

“This is a great way for these outstanding students to find out how to make a difference through involvement in our local and state political system. These students have made positive contributions to their school and community already and will continue to do so as adults,” says Superintendent Bobby Pearce. 

April 24, 2019

 

 

 

Wakulla Middle School science teachers Melissa Martin and Katrina Roddenberry are always looking for ways to make science relevant for their students.

 

 

 

The two teachers even attended a summer Sustainability Workshop in Arizona together that inspired them to

 

sponsor a "Green Team" at Wakulla Middle School with the support of WMS Principal Tolar Griffin. This program encourages students, teachers, and staff to recycle materials that would otherwise be thrown into landfills. 

 

 

 

The Walton National Sustainability Teachers’ Academy is an intensive, five-day professional development workshop for K-12 teachers held every summer. Teachers of any subject and grade can apply with another teacher from their school or district.

 

 

 

These teacher teams receive an introduction to sustainability science through hands-on activities and lectures by experts in the field.

 

 

 

“Engaging fieldtrips highlight sustainability in action at local business and other organizations. Through ample networking opportunities, teachers become part of a dedicated community of sustainability activists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and other educators,” states the Walton National Sustainability Teacher’s Academy information.

 

 

 

“It was not a school sponsored trip, so there was no cost to our local school district.  However, the Arizona State University paid for our hotel, airline tickets, meals, and workshop fees. They also gave us a stipend for implementing a program at our school,” added Martin. 

 

 

 

Two more WMS teachers, Mallory Harrison and Amanda Hofheinz, were just selected for the academy and they will travel to Montana this summer. 

 

 

 

The local initiative began at WMS during the first week of school in August, 2018 with the WMS student media crew sharing facts about pollution, recycling, and its consequences during the morning announcements.  

 

 

 

Students learned about what was recyclable and began participating by separating all trash materials in their classrooms. A team of students then began collecting the bins twice a week for pickup. 

 

 

 

Marpan brought a large recycle bin to WMS and has made two collections of the recycled materials. As of the 4th nine weeks, the Wildcats had recycled over one ton of materials. 

 

 

 

Marpan Recycling is a material recovery facility - not a landfill. “Five plastic bottles recycled provides enough fiber to create one square feet of carpet or enough fiber fill to fill one ski jacket,” states a Marpan representative.

 

 

 

“Thanks to the efforts of all the students, teachers, and staff at Wakulla Middle School, we have become more sustainable in our habits and continue to educate ourselves on keeping Wakulla County beautiful!” says Martin.

2018-2019 District News

November 3, 2018

 

Crawfordville Elementary School and Wakulla High School are on the list of Florida Department of Education’s recently released “Schools of Excellence”.

 

To be designated a “School of Excellence”, a school must meet an 80% threshold of possible points earned in the FDOE school grade designation.  Plus, they must have made a school letter grade of “A” for two out of the past three years.

 

Crawfordville earned 80.9% of the possible points for elementary schools for the 2017-2018 school year. 

 

Wakulla High School earned 83.3% of the possible points for high schools for 2017-2018.

 

Both schools earned “B” school grades for the 2015-2016 school year, and both earned “A” designations for school years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.

 

Some areas that schools are graded on are the percent of students at or above grade level in English Language Arts (ELA), Math, Social Studies, and Science on standardized state tests.

 

High schools have extra areas graded such as College Dual Enrollment courses passed, Advanced Placement scores, Industry Certifications earned, and Graduation Rate.

 

Another important factor in earning 80% or above of possible school grade points is measuring student growth from year to year.  These Learning Gains show student achievement in Reading/English Language Arts and Math.

 

The “School of Excellence” designation allows “administrative flexibility” spelled out by FDOE.  This gives CES Principal Louis Hernandez and WHS Principal Mike Barwick more control over class sizes and reading requirements, to name a few areas.

 

Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “This is an honor for these two schools to be recognized for such high achievement gains.  More importantly, it speaks to the idea that every child can learn.  All of our teachers and staffs are outstanding at helping every single child show academic, social, and emotional growth from year to year.”

October 22, 2018

 

Teachers of the Month and Employees of the Month for October, plus Employee of the Month from September, were honored at the Wakulla County School Board Meeting on October 22, 2018.

 

Selected by their peers, Teachers of the Month are Michele Lawhon from Medart Elementary School and Melissa Martin of Wakulla Middle School.

 

Employees are Lisa Stevens from Wakulla Education Center Pre-K and Karyn Crum of Wakulla Middle School.  September’s Employee of the Month Heather Miller from Food Services was also honored.

 

Said Superintendent Bobby Pearce after they were awarded their plaques, “The dedication of these ladies chosen by their peers really influences others more than they know.  There is a theme running through all of them that they have positive attitudes and a willingness to go the extra mile.”

 

MICHELE LAWHON

 

MELISSA MARTIN

 

LISA STEVENS

 

KARYN CRUM

 

HEATHER MILLER

March 8, 2019

 

There is a saying that “If you’ve met one child with Autism, you’ve met one child with Autism.” This rings true for Exceptional Student Education teacher Sarojanie “Ro” Samlal who believes that each child with Autism Spectrum Disorder has unique symptoms and solutions.

 

Samlal’s wish to learn more about children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) just came true as she prevailed over 107 other candidates for the last slot of the last year of a five year grant which pays full tuition for a Master’s degree from Florida International University.

 

“According to the Center for Disease Control, there has been a sharp increase in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder from 1 in 166 in 2004 to 1 in 59 in 2016 in the U.S. The CDC acknowledges that these numbers still reflect an undercount of Autism’s true prevalence,” says Samlal.

 

FIU’s Project OPERATE (Online Preparation of Educators and Researchers in Autism who Teach Effectively) is an accelerated 12-month Master’s degree program that was born from the needs of ESE teachers who have little or no specific training on ASD. 

Participants earn a Master of Science degree in Special Education, leading to the State of Florida endorsement in ASD. Nine teachers have been chosen to participate in Project OPERATE statewide each of the five years of the grant.

 

Samlal has been a fixture at Shadeville Elementary School working with ESE children for the past 14 years. Currently she has a self-contained classroom of children ages 9 to 12 with varying exceptionalities including Autism, Down syndrome, Intellectual Disabilities, and Other Health Impairments (OHI). 

 

“Ro is an incredible advocate for our ESE students, always wanting to learn more about them as individuals while including their parents and other teachers. She was accepted to participate in Project OPERATE after an extensive application process, a day of grueling interviews, and a field of extremely qualified competitors,” says Tanya English, Executive Director of Exceptional Student Education and Student Services for Wakulla County Schools.

 

“She is one of our home grown ESE teachers, beginning as a paraprofessional, then using the ‘Para to Teacher’ Florida Department of Education grant to receive her dual Bachelor’s degree in ESE and Elementary Education from Flagler College. I am so proud of her for now attaining this final Project OPERATION slot. She will be a great mentor to our ESE teachers in addition to helping our students,” adds English.

 

Samlal says she had an eye-opening experience that made her want to learn more about ASD: “I had taught a number of students with Autism, but they were high functioning with reasonable communication skills. Two years ago I had a child who screamed incessantly, rocked, flapped her hands, bit and scratched herself and anyone who got close to her. 

 

“She is my inspiration. She is the reason that now I must learn more and help other children in a similar situation. I tried every strategy that my helpful administrators suggested and spent many nights trying to come up with ways to ‘tame’ her outbursts.

 

“Then I discovered that she loved music. That became the one thing that started to build that bond of trust. Now we sing every morning as a whole group. She is a completely different child. She is happy to be with us, knows our routines and expectations, and can even count by 5’s and 10’s. Most important is that she knows I am there to listen and help her and that she is safe and loved.”

 

“Mrs. Samlal works hard each and every day for the students she serves. Her ability to connect with her students and get them to strive to meet her expectations is incredible to watch,” says Shadeville Elementary Principal Nick Weaver.

 

Adds Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “In addition to Mrs. Samlal being able to better serve her students with ASD, what she learns from her Master’s degree will help her have more insights into helping parents and training more ESE teachers and administrators about Autism. Congratulations to her for earning this important scholarship.”

October 19, 2018

 

 

 

Wakulla High School’s Senior Class of 2018 outscored their counterparts in Florida on the American College Test (ACT) in every area: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and on the composite score.  

 

 

 

In addition, scores improved in every area over the last five years of WHS scores.  “Putting more programs in place for WHS students to improve their scores is paying off. These scores are not only important for getting into college, they also help students earn scholarships, plus show us where we can improve our curriculum,” says Director of Instructional Services Sunny Chancy.

 

 

 

Adds Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “The trend data for Wakulla is comparable because approximately the same number of WHS students take the ACT every year.  All students are encouraged to take the ACT and/or the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) regardless of their academic standing, so this is not just a reflection of students with ‘A or B’ grade point averages.”

 

 

 

The ACT is one of the common national tests taken for college entrance qualifications, including meeting requirements to take Dual Enrollment college courses while still in high school.  It is also one of the tests used for determining eligibility for Florida Bright Futures scholarships.

 

               

 

On the ACT, WHS 2018 graduates averaged 21 in English (state average 19.2). In Mathematics, WHS scored 20.9 (state 19.3). 

 

 

 

WHS Reading scores averaged 23.3 (state 21.1). WHS Science scores came in at 21.8 (state 19.5). 

 

 

 

The overall average composite score for WHS 2018 graduates was 21.9 (state 19.9).

 

 

 

ACT personnel have done research with colleges nationwide to establish benchmark scores that are a valid prediction of whether or not students will pass a college course in that subject.  In all four areas tested, Wakulla students exceeded the state average scores predicting passing grades in College English, College Algebra, College Social Science, College Biology and in the composite score of all four subjects.

 

 

 

“It’s important that the trend continues for our students to exceed the state averages from year to year in all areas of a nationally standardized college entrance exam.  We want them to graduate from WHS both college and career ready so that a variety of pathways are open to them.  Plus, improving our Wakulla scores each year is always our goal,” states Superintendent Pearce.  

 

 

 

WHS offers the ACT on the WHS campus in lieu of students having to drive to Tallahassee to take it in an unfamiliar setting.  The SAT will be offered at WHS during the second semester. Students are encouraged to take the ACT and/or the SAT in order to broaden their options for after high school. 

 

 

 

They can prepare for doing well on the ACT and on other college entrance exams by taking advantage of the rigorous curricula offered at Wakulla High School such as Advanced Placement courses and college Dual Enrollment courses from Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University at no cost to parents.

 

 

 

“Students are encouraged to take the ACT and the SAT several times to improve their scores, starting in the fall of their junior year at the latest,” notes WHS Principal Mike Barwick. “If they can’t afford the testing fees, they can talk to the Student Services Department personnel about fee waiver criteria.”

 

 

 

Wakulla High School continues to increase college and career information dissemination efforts, including hosting a College and Career Fair plus Parent Nights for questions and answers. 

 

 

 

For more information on taking the ACT or the SAT, contact WHS Assistant Principal of Student Services Priscilla Tucker at 850-926-2221 priscilla.tucker@wcsb.us or district-wide Director of Instructional Services Sunny Chancy at sunny.chancy@wcsb.us.

February 22, 2019

 

 

 

Eight Wakulla County Odyssey of the Mind teams took first place in their divisions and qualified for State competition with their scores from the inaugural Nature Coast Regionals hosted by Riversprings Middle School on February 16.  Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving challenge.

 

 

 

Teams from Crawfordville Elementary, Medart Elementary (two teams), Shadeville Elementary, Riversprings Middle, Wakulla Middle and Wakulla High (two teams) now advance to State competition on April 6 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.  

 

 

 

These 8 Wakulla Odyssey teams beat out teams from public, private, magnet, charter, and home schools in the Nature Coast Region that includes Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla counties.

 

Divisions that Wakulla students participated in were Division I (grades K-5), Division II (grades 6-8), and Division III (grades 9-12).  Division IV is at the college level and scholarships may awarded to Divisions III and IV students. 

 

Wakulla High School senior Giselle Almanzor won a $500 Odyssey of the Mind scholarship. 

 

“The scholar ship is intended for high school seniors intending to attend a post-secondary educational institute.  The recipient must have been active in Odyssey of the Mind for at least two years, and should be able to articulate what Odyssey of the Mind has meant to them, what they learned as a result of participation in Odyssey of the Mind, and how they intend "give back" using what they learned as a participant in the program,” explains Becky Dinkins, Director of the Nature Coast Region of Odyssey of the Mind. 

 

An OMER Award went to the Medart Elementary team who chose the Structure Problem of building with balsa wood that had to stay intact while being tossed in a carnival game, then withstand weights being added.  The OMER award is a special award for teams who best demonstrate the spirit of Odyssey of the Mind with teamwork and creativity in their problem-solving.

 

 

 

Each team of 7 students had to score a certain number of points from the “Long Term Problem” they have been working on all year, plus score points from a “Spontaneous Problem” that they were handed for the first time to solve at the competition.  There are time limits, spending limits, and very limited adult interaction, according to the Odyssey rules.

 

Teams chose one of five Long Term Problems. While the five categories of Vehicle, Technical, Classics, Structure, and Performance stay the same each year, the scenarios for each category change each year.

 

Divisions that Wakulla students participated in were Division I (grades K-5), Division II (grades 6-8), and Division III (grades 9-12).  Division IV is at the college level and scholarships may awarded to Divisions III and IV students. 

 

There is also a K-2 Division that Medart Elementary participated in with one of their three teams. The K-2 Division is not eligible for State competition.  Riversprings Elementary also participated and came in second in their division.

 

Each of the following Wakulla County teams had a first place finish in their division, qualifying them for State competition:

 

 

 

Crawfordville Elementary’s team (grades 3-5) is coached by teachers Kirsten Brazier and Heather Hatfield.  Members are Sam Bruce, Cole Randolph, Sydney Baker, Sylvia Boykin, Tucker High, Aaron Jones, and Trinity Eugene. They earned first place for their Performance Problem in Division I.

 

 

 

Medart Elementary had two teams earn first place, both working on different problems.

 

 

 

Coached by teachers Betsy Jones and Glenda Hance, members are Hayden Jones, Logan Hand, Hunter Hartsfield, Allison Wilsey, Isabella

 

Ayotte, and Brooklynn Green. 

 

 

 

They chose the Structure Problem of building with balsa wood and glue that had to bear Olympic-size weights. 

 

 

 

This Structure Problem Medart team also won the OMER Award, a special award for teams who best demonstrate the spirit of Odyssey of the Mind with teamwork and creativity in their problem-solving.

 

 

 

The next Medart team earned first place for the Vehicle Problem in which they designed, built, and demonstrated their vehicle. Coached by teachers Sandra Whaley and Melissa Jackman, students are Trenten Barwick, Anarosa Callejas, Corbin Ferreira, Alexis Green, Kyrin Hand, Gabriel Harrell, and John Sanders.

 

 

 

Shadeville Elementary, coached by teachers Amy Seidler and Kerry Adams, also won first place in Division I for their Technical Problem solution. Team members are Brody Beam, Jackson Crow, Kiley Lafferty, Kaylie Kosek, Emily Zak, Ella Zak, and Cadence Gouker.

 

 

 

Riversprings Middle landed a first place score in Division II for the Structure Problem of building with balsa wood that could withstand being in a carnival toss and surviving that, the structure had weights added to it to see its strength. 

 

 

 

Coaches are teachers Jessica Yarbrough and James Daniels.  Team members are Emil Bendeck, Kendall Coleman, Sophia Kamal, Mahala McDonald, Jacobi McQueen, Damon Rich, and Raena Taylor.

 

 

 

Wakulla Middle placed first in Division II for the Performance Problem. The team created and presented a humorous performance with the theme of “Opposites Distract”.

 

 

 

Coached by teacher Katrina Roddenberry, team members are Peter Arbogast, Matthew Ayotte, Jordyn Hatfield, Sara Lloyd, Dawn Moody, Chase Morgan, and Kelsey Sanders.

 

 

 

Wakulla High School is fielding two teams working on two different problems, both coached by teachers Angie Gentry and Christopher Stearns.

 

 

 

The team of Abigail Gray, Jake Greene, Abbi Hatfield, Ally Harden, Zoie Hill, “Jay” Jacob, and Ashiera Preston placed first in Division III for the Technical Problem of building a mechanical creature which had tasks to perform.  

 

 

 

The next WHS team won first place in the Performance Problem in Division III.   This team consists of Giselle Almanzor, Makenna Callaghan, Reagan Corley, Mackenzie Crockett, Travis Morgan, Tristan Silcox, and Celestia Walker. The team created and presented a humorous performance with the theme of “Opposites Distract”.

 

 

 

Giselle Almanzor also won an individual scholarship of $500 which she can use towards college expenses.

 

 

 

Teams who qualify at State advance directly to the World Finals as representatives of the United States in international competition against teams from over 25 countries such as China, Japan, Australia and Germany and over 40 U.S. states.  

 

 

 

One Wakulla High School team qualified for World finals two years ago and had an “unforgettable cultural experience” according to former Odyssey coach Nick Weaver, current principal of Shadeville Elementary School.   This year, Odyssey of the Mind World Finals will be held May 22-25 at Michigan State University.

 

 

 

Says Superintendent Pearce, “Using teamwork, cooperation, and creativity to problem-solve are important skills we want our students to have. Good luck to our Odyssey of the Mind teams as they compete at the State level on April 6.”

October 5, 2018

 

 

 

Wakulla High School earned a $12,000 two-year grant from the University of Central Florida’s College of Communication, Innovation, and Education to help students transition to college and careers.

 

 

 

What makes the WHS SOAR (Supports, Opportunities, and Resources) club different from other college and career prep programs is that it is comprised of three groups: students with intellectual disabilities, students with disabilities other than intellectual disabilities, and students without disabilities.

 

 

 

Club members work together in teams to identify prospective colleges and universities of interest, learn about various careers, engage in mentoring, and participate in events and activities within the school and community.

 

SOAR sponsor Sonia Clark-Rosier, WHS Associate Dean of Student Services, explained, “All SOAR members, with and without disabilities, participate in all club activities.  We are working on a paradigm shift within our school community that fosters inclusion, diversity, and acceptance of everyone, regardless of their differences.  We also are already working cooperatively with current WHS clubs 'The Next Level' (for students without disabilities) and 'High School/High Tech' (for students with disabilities)."  

 

Clark-Rosier applied for and received the two-year $12,000 grant from the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities at UCF.  As the club advisor for SOAR, she is one of several WHS teachers who add support to the group.   

 

 

 

The grant money of $6,000 per year will cover events such as an informational dinner for parents and SOAR students; local “College Day” visits (FAMU, FSU, TCC); regional “College Day” visits (UCF, Santa Fe CC); “Career Day” visits of area businesses like Publix; guest speakers; and transportation.

 

 

 

In late September, SOAR students and chaperones Clark-Rosier, Michelle Peddie and Janet Weber toured Florida A& M University. Said Clark-Rosier, “During the visit, club members had an opportunity to tour the campus, learn more about the educational opportunities and supports that FAMU offers, participate in the college dining experience, and have ‘face time’ with Florida A&M University’s president, Dr. Larry Robinson. For most of our SOAR students, it was their first step onto a college campus.”

 

 

 

The field trip to Florida A&M University was the first of four college tours planned during this academic year.

 

 

 

Additionally, club members will identify three career fields and develop individual career and post- secondary transition plans, host guest speakers at monthly club meetings, and visit local businesses to expand their knowledge about various career opportunities.

 

 

 

Noted Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “It is important that all of our high school students have a plan or plans for after high school graduation.  Many have ‘plans’ but are unsure of the pathways to get there. Clubs like SOAR help our students navigate the often confusing process of applying for college or post-secondary training, preparing a resume, and practicing effective job interview skills.”

 

 

 

Students participating in SOAR were recommended by their teachers and other faculty and staff members.  For more information, contact Clark-Rosier at sonia.clark-rosier@wcsb.us.

March 1, 2019

 

 

 

Superintendent Bobby Pearce recently put Wakulla Middle School Science teacher Katrina Roddenberry in contact with Dave Roeker, a retired mechanical engineer from 3M.

 

 

 

Roeker was interested in presenting a science demonstration that he has been sharing with students for years in his hometown in Wisconsin as a part of his training with 3M, a world-wide company that finds scientific solutions in the areas of Health Care, Manufacturing, Automotive, Safety, and more.

 

 

 

Recently, Roeker shared his science demonstration with the 4-H club in Panacea and Superintendent Pearce asked Roddenberry if she was interested in seeing if it was something that would be beneficial to share in Wakulla schools.

 

 

 

“It was fantastic!” says Roddenberry, who teaches 8th grade Science and 8th grade Integrated Science 1 for high school credit. “So, I arranged for Mr. Roeker to visit all the 8th grade students at Wakulla Middle School. He presented his science demonstration to all 200 of our 8th grade students over a period of two days, February 12th and 14th.”

 

 

 

She adds, “His demonstration included liquid nitrogen and its effects on a variety of objects. Students learned about cryogenics, the carbon cycle, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, physical properties of matter, and specific heat.”

 

 

 

Says WMS Principal Tolar Griffin, “Mrs. Roddenberry has been a great advocate for science education, even working on a NASA project with her 8th graders last year who were chosen to present at the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas last spring.”

 

 

 

Superintendent Pearce explains his belief that “Our teachers constantly work on raising our students’ interest in and exposure to jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.  We have a wealth of people in Wakulla who can share real-life situations from their jobs, and it is interesting for our students to hear from them.”

September 20, 2018

 

 

 

September is National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month.  The faculty and staffs of Wakulla County public schools are training and learning more all the time about mental health and suicide awareness to better serve their students.

 

A new resource this year is a separate office run by Belinda McElroy, Principal on Special Assignment, which focuses on Student Services such as the need for more mental health services.

 

After McElroy and Wakulla Institute Assistant Principal James Vernon attended a workshop over the summer about The Jason Foundation, they thought that training the smaller Wakulla Institute faculty and staff would be a great starting point for this year’s professional development.

 

The Jason Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the belief that “awareness and education are the first steps to prevention. We want to establish a Triangle of Prevention by providing students, parents and teachers the tools and resources to help identify and help at-risk youth.”

 

There is no intent to diagnose or treat suicidal ideation. The Jason Foundation’s intention is to empower youth, educators and parents to help recognize when young people are in pain and where to go to get professional help involved as soon as possible.

 

Wakulla Institute consists of the Pathways disciplinary program, the Impact credit recovery program, and the Virtual School on-line program. 

 

There is now a full-time counselor from DISC Village on the campus of Wakulla Institute, a certified guidance counselor, weekly visits from the FSU psychology interns, plus there are two full-time Licensed Clinical Social Workers on staff for the entire school system. 

 

Says Vernon, “I was proud of the Wakulla Institute faculty and staff members. Everyone participated in the training and earned certificates for the on-line module they finished.  I did all ten modules because the more I learned, the more I saw some of our students in the cases presented.”

 

Adds McElroy, “We are taking mental health and suicide awareness training to all the faculties at the different schools. We held our first Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings on Sept. 12 with 35 participants. These were mainly middle school and high school special area teachers, coaches, and guidance personnel.”

 

Youth Mental Health First Aid is a 6 hour course mandated for all school personnel by Senate Bill 7026 that encompasses suicide awareness and prevention. This course does not teach to diagnose and treat, but to be aware of signs and symptoms, how to assist students in getting help, and how to intervene if a student is in crisis.

 

Notes Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “Even with a heightened sense of awareness about our students’ mental health, it is tough to identify each and every one student who needs help because the signs may be hard to see.  The more people we have trained on what to look for, the better.” 

 

Adds McElroy, “We will be providing more trainings in suicide awareness and prevention using Jason Foundation materials throughout the school year. But, kudos to Mr. Vernon and his WI team for leading the way!”

February 28, 2019



 

 

 

Wakulla County School Board honored February’s Teachers and Employees of the Month at the February 19 School Board Meeting.

 

 

 

Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “These four employees are recognized as outstanding by their peers.  Their dedication to student success is seen in many different forms, from educating our students to making sure they are nutritionally well-fed and their computers and computer programs are working correctly.  It speaks to the Wakulla school system employees working together to help in every aspect of educating our children. ”

 

 

 

LEON HILLMON

 

 

 

Wakulla Middle School named Leon Hillmon as their Teacher of the Month for February.  He is in his second year as Associate Dean of Discipline at WMS and in his 10th year as an educator.

 

 

 

Prior to becoming an Associate Dean, Hillmon taught middle school Math for six years: two years at Riversprings Middle School, two years at Madison Middle School, and two years at Wakulla High School before earning the job as a teacher on special assignment at WMS working as an Associate Dean.

 

 

 

Hillmon earned his Associate of Arts degree from Tallahassee Community College, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education from Western Governors University in Utah.

 

 

 

Becoming a teacher wasn’t always on Hillmon’s radar. He says, “After working nine years for the Agency of healthcare, I realized I wanted a more challenging and satisfying profession.  Numerous individuals informed me that I had a gift of communicating with young people and that I should seek a career as a teacher.”

 

 

 

His experiences as a teacher and coach have helped him with the sometimes daunting job of dealing with student discipline, which involves students, parents, the students’ teachers, administrators, and sometimes the School Resource Officer.

 

 

 

As Associate Dean of Discipline, Hillmon believes his “ability to make connections with students and learn about their ideas, ambitions, and welfare” make a difference when a student comes to him for a disciplinary reason.  He adds, “I am in the unique position of being able to mold and influence young people into successful adults by modeling how to interact with others and how to show respect.”

 

 

 

What is rewarding to him are “the simple things, like a smile or a fist bump, especially in the position I’m in.  Many educators will agree that having a student who has moved on to the high school, or who has already graduated, come back and say that something you did impacted their life is the most meaningful thing a student can say.”

 

 

 

Hillmon also worked as an assistant basketball coach for two years, and currently is Chair of the WMS Safety Committee and a member of the WMS AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) Site Team.

 

 

 

Confirms WMS Principal Tolar Griffin, “Mr. Hillmon’s biggest strength is his rapport with students.  When giving disciplinary consequences, he is always fair and firm.  His calm demeanor allows him to maintain a positive relationship with the students, even when the student is being punished.  He is a great asset to WMS and embodies the Wildcat spirit.”

 

 

 

ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON

 

 

 

Medart Elementary School chose third grade teacher Elizabeth Williamson as the February Teacher of the Month.  She is in her 10th year of teaching, with MES as her home for the past four years.

 

 

 

A Kentucky native, Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Southern Indiana and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Oakland City University in Indiana.

 

 

 

Prior to working at Medart for the past four years, Williamson taught 2nd grade for one year and 6th and 7th grade English Language Arts (ELA) for five years.

 

 

 

About landing in Wakulla County, she says, “My family fell in love with the Forgotten Coast while on vacation.  The warm climate, outdoor activities, and relaxed environment were temptations we could not resist.  I was lucky enough to be hired to teach 4th grade at Medart Elementary.  The Medart family has become a second family to me.  They are caring and helpful.”

 

 

 

She adds, “The most enjoyable part of my job is connecting with children. If I can raise a child’s self-esteem, help them overcome a difficulty, or just make them laugh, I feel that I have met my purpose.” 

 

 

 

Williamson is not afraid to use whatever methods work to motivate her students like dressing up, singing, and dancing about different parts of standardized tests when she and fellow educators at a prior school got together to inspire their students to do well on the tests.  She notes, “Our school performed well, and I think being silly helped break the tension.”

 

 

 

In addition to teaching, Williamson has taken on roles such as the MES Spelling Bee Coordinator, MES Student Council Co-Sponsor, and Teacher Coach to mentor new teachers.

 

 

 

Says MES Principal Stan Ward, “I always enjoy visiting Mrs. Williamson’s classroom.  There is a love of learning and an attitude of positivity throughout the room that begins with Mrs. Williamson and ripples outward to her students.  She has mastered the art of making lessons fun and educational for all of her students.  She represents the Mustangs well, and I am proud that she is a part of the team.”

 

 

 

SARAH BECKER

 

 

 

Sarah Becker was selected as February Employee of the Month from Wakulla County Schools Food Services Department.  She is in her sixth year at Medart Elementary School.

 

 

 

Originally from Michigan, Becker’s family moved to Wakulla County where she attended Wakulla Middle School and Wakulla High School.

 

 

 

Becker says she enjoys the MES lunchroom work environment and has a good rapport with her co-workers.  She adds, “I also enjoy working with the Pre-Kindergarten kids” who were relocated to the Medart campus when the Sopchoppy Pre-K program moved.   Some of these students are in programs that follow specific federal food requirements.

 

 

 

Going beyond what is asked of her, Becker states, “I voluntarily checked food labels for allergens even when I wasn’t the main dish cook.”

 

 

 

Says MES Food Services Manager Susan Trice, “Sarah is a blessing to have on our staff.  She has made the transition from Wakulla Food Services to the corporate Sodexo Quality of Life Services much smoother for our kitchen.  She is always on top of everything with our students with food allergies, making sure they get safe meals.”

 

 

 

Continues Trice, “She is always ready to help her co-workers if needed, and is wonderful with both students and adults alike. We could not do the good job we do without her.”

 

 

 

JESSICA SLUSHER

 

 

 

Jessica Slusher was chosen as February Employee of the Month from the Information Technology/Management Information Systems (IT/MIS) Department.  She is a Distributed System Technician for Wakulla Middle School, Medart Elementary School, and Wakulla Institute, although she willingly works anywhere she is needed if there is a problem she can help solve.

 

 

 

Slusher attended Wakulla schools from 2nd grade at Shadeville Elementary, to Wakulla Middle and Riversprings Middle, to graduation from Wakulla High School. She then earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University.

 

 

 

She has been involved with a pilot project of “Tablets on the Bus” from its beginning in 2016.  Slusher explains, “When I first started with the Wakulla County School Board, the Bus Garage and District Office decided to test putting technology on a bus by giving the students tablets to and from school.  My task was to set up and maintain the 60 Samsung Galaxy tablets.  Morning and afternoon, the tablets are on the bus and during the day they are used in the Medart classrooms.”

 

 

 

“Maintaining the 60 tablets has been challenging and we have had to make some adjustments with different programs to allow for an optimal learning experience. I think the students really enjoy the tablets,” she adds.

 

 

 

Slusher’s supervisor Tim Stephens, Director of Information Technology for the entire school system, says, “I have known Jessica since 2011 when we were both employed at FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement).  Knowing her skill set, I recommended her for a job as a Desktop Support Technician with the Municipal Code Corporation in 2014.  When I had an IT opening in 2016, I immediately thought of her and recommended that she apply.  Not wanting to be partial, I excused myself from the interviews.  However, she still stood out as the top applicant to the interview panel.”

 

 

 

Stephens adds, “Jessica has the drive and desire to excel at everything she does.  She puts in the time and does everything she can to get the job done, but she also is not afraid to ask for help when she needs it.  Jessica is a true professional and I hear nothing but positive things from the teachers, staff, and administrators that she helps.  She is someone that I can always count on and trust.”

September 10, 2018         

 

 

 

Kathy Galloway, District Office Administrative Secretary for Facilities and Maintenance, was honored at a Retirement Party for her on Sept. 20.  Family, friends and colleagues came to bid farewell to “one of the kindest ladies I’ve ever met,” said Superintendent Bobby Pearce as he and the School Board presented her with a WCSB retirement plaque.

 

 

 

“That is almost 41 years of service with a positive attitude towards our children and adults,” added Pearce.  “She is one of the calmest, most helpful people I know.” 

 

 

 

Since 1977, Galloway has worked for Wakulla schools as a substitute teacher, a one-on-one student assistant, a teacher’s assistant, and is now completing her 27th year of working as the Administrative Secretary

 

to Randy Bristol, Director of Facilities and Maintenance for the entire school system.

 

 

 

“I have learned so much in this job and enjoyed the diversity of working with people from all walks of facilities and maintenance.  I’ve worked with contractors, architects, salespeople, engineers, you name it.  Starting my career working with children, I never dreamed I would come to love this world of helping to maintain a good environment for children to learn in. Some days even now I miss working directly with students.”

 

 

 

 “And I have loved working with every school in the district.  I know all the foremen, custodians, principals and assistant principals and tried to understand that whatever problem they needed solved, it was a priority to them to keep their students and faculties happy. You can’t teach in 90 degree weather if your air conditioning goes out.”

 

 

 

Says Bristol, “Kathy has been a dedicated employee and an asset to the school system.  I appreciated her commitment to this office and to the school system as a whole.  I could always rely on her to be responsible for maintaining this office with integrity.  She is well-respected by her peers and everyone enjoys working with her.  You won’t find anyone who can say a negative word about her because she sincerely loves our employees and our school system.”

 

 

 

In turn, Galloway says, “Mr. Bristol has always made me feel like an important part of the team.  The huge scope of work that falls into the facilities and maintenance category is on his shoulders every day, but he keeps calm, problem solves, and prepares for future needs 5, 10, 15 years down the road.”

 

 

 

A product of Wakulla schools, Galloway attended Crawfordville High School for grades 1 through 9 and graduated from Wakulla High School attending grades 10 through 12.

 

 

 

“I began substituting when my children started school so I could still be at home when they were, as well as be involved with their activities at school.  Then I was hired to be a one-on-one assistant for a blind kindergarten student, which was a wonderful experience,” says Galloway.

 

 

 

“This led to being asked to work one-on-one with a middle school student. After this, I worked in an ESE (Exceptional Student Education) classroom and later moved to Crawfordville Elementary to work with students and help their teachers in the classroom for emotionally handicapped children.  Next I was hired as secretary for the Facilities and Maintenance Department.”

 

 

 

Galloway has been married to husband Lin for 48 years.  They had three children, suffering through the tragedies of losing daughter Leigh and then son Darren, a twin to Ralph, who resides in Kentucky.  The light in her eyes shines brighter on mention of her children and grandchildren.                  

 

 

 

Friend and colleague Rhonda Stevens noted, “Kathy is amazing to be able to keep an open, loving heart. You can see how much she loves to take care of ‘her people’ as she calls those who work in facilities and maintenance at each school.  She takes care of all of us at the District Office too.  The kind, compassionate person she is to me is the same as how she is to everyone.  There is no falseness about her, only love for others.”

 

 

 

“Her service to the children and adults of our school system has not gone unnoticed,” stated Superintendent Pearce.  “In April, her peers voted her Employee of the Month.  She is one of those people who can tell if you are having a bad day, and she gives encouragement and hugs.  She has been a great example of how to treat people, all the while getting her work done on time and done well.  We will miss her but wish her joy in retirement.”

October 5, 2018

 

 

 

On September 26, the Florida Department of Education promoted the fourth year of “Dads Take Your Child to School Day”. The goal is to encourage fathers and male role models to take an active role in their child's education.

 

The FLDOE Office of Family Engagement, citing over 30 years of research, “supports emphasis on engaging fathers as a means of increasing student achievement.”  

 

 

 

The research shows that when fathers are actively involved in their child or children’s school life, students “perform better academically; have fewer discipline problems; and become more responsible adults.”

 

 

 

Said Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “All of our Wakulla County schools participated in the day. It was a great turnout everywhere.  We are fortunate to live in a community where so many families and extended families put a priority on their children’s education and well-being.”

 

 

 

For example, Shadeville Elementary School had 317 dads and/or other male role models join their children for lunch on September 26.

 

 

 

SES Principal Nick Weaver noted, "As a dad of three young daughters, I know how important it is to be actively involved in my children’s education. It was amazing to see so many dads, uncles, granddads, brothers, and other male role models take the time to join our students for lunch. The outcome speaks volumes of the support our school district receives from our stakeholders."

 

 

 

For more information and practical ideas such as “All-Pro Dads: 5 Ways to Bond Through Reading” and “10 Facts About Father Engagement”, there are many resources on the FLDOE Office of Family Engagement website. 

January 22, 2019

 

 

 

Wakulla County School Board honored January’s Teachers and Employee of the Month at the January 22 School Board Meeting.

 

 

 

Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “These three employees are recognized as outstanding by their peers.  The common theme is that all three take their jobs seriously, but know how to connect with students and staff through humor, caring, and a sincere interest in how others are doing.  They all give so much, and yet they insist that they are the ones who get so much in return.”

 

 

 

KIMBERLY MORGAN

 

January Teacher of the Month from Shadeville Elementary School is 2nd grade teacher Kimberly Morgan.  She is in her third year at Shadeville, after teaching 6th grade her first year in a neighboring county.

 

 

 

Morgan’s pathway to teaching was unique: “After working in the pharmacological field for 21 years, I decided to go back to school. Throughout this time I was teaching Sunday School at my church.  That time spent with children, coupled with heartfelt prayer, gave me the answer I was looking for,” she says.  “It became clear that my purpose was to make a difference in the lives of as many students as I could through the art of teaching.”

 

 

 

She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Flagler College and is certified in Elementary Education, Exceptional Student Education, and holds endorsements in both Reading and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages).

 

 

 

Her perspective is that teaching puts her in the position to influence her students in a positive way.  She notes, “I can guide them to use their imaginations and to help them understand that learning never stops, even when they get as ‘old’ as I am.”

 

 

 

“I feel my experiences growing up have helped me to better understand the hardships and heartaches that a lot of our children go through.  I want my students to know that they can trust me and that I love them.  At the end of the day, it’s all for the love of the children.”

 

 

 

Morgan interned in Wakulla County, and substituted there while no full-time teaching jobs were open.  She took a teaching position at Woodville Middle Charter School when her supervising teacher from Wakulla called her three weeks into a new school year and urged her to apply for a newly opened teaching position.

 

 

 

Says Morgan, “I was truly excited and sad at the same time.  I had already established a good rapport with my students, as well as being the Cross Country coach.  I did not take the Wakulla position that year.  I assume the Shadeville principal remembered, and appreciated that kind of dedication, for at the end of that school year, another Shadeville position came open for the following school year.  I knew in my heart I wanted to get back to Wakulla.”

 

 

 

Her involvement at SES in addition to teaching includes being a Kagan Structures Coach to the faculty, and as a member of the Science Committee, Project Learning Tree Committee, and BPIE (Best Practices for Inclusive Education) Committee.

 

 

 

Shadeville Principal Nick Weaver adds, “Mrs. Morgan sports a vibrant smile and puts a positive light on all situations.  She is a bright light for her students and the adults that she impacts.  Her bubbly personality, enthusiasm, and commitment to the education profession make her an asset to any faculty and Shadeville is beyond thankful to have her on board.”

 

 

 

 

 

HUNTER TUCKER

 

Wakulla High School’s January Teacher of the Month is Hunter Tucker.  A Wakulla native, she attended Crawfordville Elementary, Wakulla Middle School, and graduated from Wakulla High School.

 

 

 

Tucker earned a bachelor’s degree from FAMU in Business Education and worked in Tallahassee waiting for a teaching position to open up in her field.  She says, “When Riversprings Middle School opened in 2000, I was hired as the Technology teacher, Volleyball coach, and Assistant Softball coach.  I transferred to Wakulla High two years later and have been here for almost 16 years.”

 

 

 

In the Career and Technical Department at WHS, Tucker teaches Digital Information Technology; Digital Design 2 and 3; and Yearbook.  Notes WHS Principal Mike Barwick, “Not only is she an outstanding teacher, but also the work she does every year to craft our school’s yearbook is irreplaceable.  She takes great pride to ensure our students get a first class yearbook.”

 

 

 

Tucker has been The Eagle’s Crest Yearbook teacher for 15 years, a job with a host of moving parts, including securing ads to help finance each edition.

 

 

 

Principal Barwick adds, “In addition, she supports our seniors by being an exceptional Senior Class Sponsor.”  This includes such events as organizing the Senior Trip, Graduation, and a host of activities all year long, including election of Senior officers.

 

 

 

She also is in her 8th year as the WHS Assistant Girls Weightlifting coach.  As a WHS student, Tucker was an outstanding athlete and now enjoys working with students outside of the classroom as well as in it.

 

 

 

Her many-faceted job lets her work with students in several capacities, even taking their advice and support when she participates in activities like the Teacher vs. Students Relay Race during Homecoming Week. 

 

 

 

Concludes Principal Barwick, “She truly cares about our kids and this school.  It is teachers like her that make Wakulla High School a special place to work.”

 

 

 

 

 

MANUELLENA RANDOLPH-SMITH

 

Employee of the Month for January is Manuellena Randolph-Smith from WCSB Facilities and Maintenance. She is in her 7th year at Wakulla Middle School, where she is beloved by adults and students alike.

 

 

 

A Shadeville Elementary School and Wakulla High School graduate, Randolph-Smith says, “I grew up in Shadeville and have remained in Wakulla County all my life.  I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and a dedicated sister and church member.”

 

 

 

It is important to her to “maintain a good working environment by having a cooperative relationship with the faculty and staff.  A smile costs nothing but gives you so much.  It takes but a moment, but the positive feeling lasts forever.”

 

 

 

Randolph-Smith also keeps her sense of humor and helps others around her laugh to make each day a positive one.  She adds, “My most amusing thing on this job is watching Mr. Shiver or Pastor James on that zero-turn mower!”

 

 

 

She turns more serious when describing her work at WMS: “My dedication is to be here each day and be on time, to give, and to do the most efficient job that I’m capable of doing.”

 

 

 

Says her supervisor at WMS, Mr. Larry Shiver, “Ms. Anne is a great employee who deserves the honor of Employee of the Month.  She is a hard worker and always has a smile on her face.  Everyone loves her including the faculty, staff and the students.”

 

 

 

He adds, “I have never seen anyone who can take one look at a person and know that something is wrong.  She always asks if you are ok, what she can do to help, and then tells you that she will pray for you.  She is truly a kind and generous person.”

 

 

 

WMS Principal Tolar Griffin agrees, noting, “Mrs. Randolph-Smith adds to making the school environment a positive place.  She shows us all that you can perform your tasks well, but the heart of what we do is caring for each other.  I am proud of her for earning this recognition.”

September 10, 2018

 

 

 

September Teachers of the Month Judy Paris and Victoria Pope were honored at the September 10 Wakulla County School Board Meeting.

 

 

 

“It is telling that teachers select who to honor from their faculties.  The people who see the Teachers of the Month in action are the ones who know best what their peers are like day in and day out.  These two ladies are to be commended for their hard work and passion for educating our students,” said Superintendent Bobby Pearce.

 

 

 

JUDY PARIS

 

 

 

Shadeville Elementary’s Judy Paris is their September Teacher of the Month.  A 5th grade math teacher, she is in her 19th year in education.

 

 

 

After teaching for 7 years in her home state of Louisiana, Paris moved to Wakulla County.  “I started as a volunteer in my youngest son’s kindergarten class.  When his teacher, Mrs. Kendrick, found out I was a certified teacher, she encouraged me to become a long term substitute for her daughter who would be out for months,” says Paris.

 

 

 

“I was a long term substitute for six years in Wakulla.  I then decided to teach full time and was hired at Shadeville Elementary School in 2012.”

 

 

 

A Louisiana native, Paris earned a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana Tech University, and earned a post-baccalaureate degree from Louisiana State University.

 

 

 

Paris has a mission to help students gain confidence in their math skills, and thereby gain confidence in themselves.

 

 

 

“I often come across students at the beginning of the year who ‘hang their heads’ during math class and hate to be called on.  For example, I had a young girl recently who lacked confidence in herself and was a loner.  I was able to help her improve her math skills, which helped build her confidence.”

 

 

 

“By the end of the year, her Florida Standards Assessment state test scores improved from Level 1 to Level 4.  More importantly, she gained self-confidence and, in turn, her ability to make friends.  At the end of the year, I invite students to write kind notes about each of their classmates.  This particular girl received the longest list of compliments from her peers.”

 

 

 

Paris is Shadeville’s 5th Grade Team Leader and co-chairs the Shadeville Spelling Bee.  She also has been a committee member for Project Learning Tree and was on the School Advisory Council for several years.

 

 

 

Notes Shadeville Principal Nick Weaver, “Mrs. Paris has been a cornerstone of the 5th grade team.  Her students consistently improve their math scores, and usually 90% or higher show proficiency in math by the end of the school year. She is a true asset to Shadeville Elementary and to the learning profession.”

 

 

 

VICTORIA POPE

 

 

 

Victoria Pope is Wakulla High School’s September Teacher of the Month.  She is in her 4th year as the WHS Media Specialist and in her 12th year in education.

 

 

 

“I am a true product of our Wakulla County Schools,” Pope says.  “I am honored to work and serve in the very school system that helped raise me.  My aunt, Nancy Pope, worked for Wakulla schools for close to 30 years, and it is my desire, as part of her legacy, to make her proud.”

 

 

 

Pope attended Wakulla Pre-K, Crawfordville Elementary, Wakulla Middle, and graduated from Wakulla High.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in English Education from FSU and a master’s degree in Information Science from the University of South Florida.

 

 

 

Previously, Pope taught English Language Arts in Tallahassee, Nassau County, and Jacksonville for a total of 8 years.  “I have thoroughly enjoyed returning to my roots and being a WHS War Eagle again,” she states.

 

 

 

“When I tell people I am a high school Librarian Media Specialist, some assume I sit in silence and read all day, but anyone who has been to the WHS library knows that is far from the truth.  I like to consider myself as the ‘Lively Librarian’ who creates an active and vibrant educational space, open and welcoming to all students and teachers.”

 

 

 

High-performing in both academics and sports when she attended WHS, Pope also has been an active part of WHS extra-curricular activities in her current job. She has coached JV Girls’ Soccer, Varsity Flag Football, been a sponsor of SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco), and is Department Head for Special Areas.

 

 

 

“My personal mission in life is to serve others and I am afforded that opportunity every day at WHS.  I firmly believe building a strong rapport with students and teachers is vital to maximizing our school’s academic success,” Pope adds.

 

 

 

Observes WHS Principal Mike Barwick, “Ms. Pope has energized our Media Center.  She has transformed a library into a resource center that not only benefits our students, but also our staff.  She is a very important part of our school’s success and definitely contributes to WHS earning an ‘A’ grade from the Florida Department of Education.”

August 6, 2018

 

Students aren’t the only ones who get nervous about starting a new school year.  On August 1, there were 41 new teachers who attended the “New Educator Boot Camp” put on by the Wakulla County School District Human Resources Department.

 

Veteran teacher and Riversprings Middle School Associate Dean Josh Sandgren facilitated the activities and helped welcome Wakulla County’s new teachers to the district. 

 

Guest speakers shared their knowledge on ethics, Florida standards, classroom management, and basic procedures for the first few weeks of school. 

 

This year’s group of talented teacher recruits are from all over the U.S. and beyond. 

 

Executive Director of Human Resources Angie Walker notes, “This is an incredible group of new teachers.  They add diversity and eagerness to our school system, complementing our existing highly qualified teachers.  I can’t wait to see how our new teachers positively impact our schools and our students.”  

 

The “New Educator Boot Camp” is offered to all teachers new to the Wakulla County public school system to help them get acclimated. They also learn more about the Wakulla “A” rated school district’s high expectations for all of Wakulla’s educators.  

 

To complete the Boot Camp program and graduate from it, all new educators must work closely with an assigned veteran teacher who is their mentor for the school year.  School administrators are also involved with training new teachers, making sure they feel supported during their first year of teaching in Wakulla.

 

In addition, new teachers must attend a series of 9 workshops scheduled during the first semester. 

 

Superintendent Bobby Pearce adds, “Boot Camp is an opportunity for our new hires to get to know each other while our veteran teacher leaders share their knowledge and experiences.  It’s a great kick off to the school year. The Wakulla County School District welcomes all of our new teachers!" 

February 8, 2019

 

 

 

The Florida Department of Education recently announced that Florida has the 3rd highest percentage in the U.S of students passing their Advanced Placement exams at 31.7 percent.  Florida is behind only Massachusetts with 32.9 percent, and Connecticut with 32.2 percent.

 

 

 

Wakulla’s average for 2018 is 36.6 percent passing AP exams, topping both the state and national averages.

 

 

 

The national average for passing AP exams is 23.5 percent.

 

 

 

Compared with all 50 states, Florida ranks first in the U.S. for the highest percentage of graduates who took an AP course during high school at 55.9%.   

 

 

 

Superintendent Bobby Pearce notes, “One thing that is important to me is saving our parents and students from the crushing student loan debts so prevalent today.  AP classes, Dual Enrollment college classes that count for high school and college credit, and Industry Certifications earned through our Career and Technical programs are all at no tuition expense to our families.”

 

 

 

He adds, “These options also help students decide what they are interested in doing for a living. It’s better for them to take different types of courses at WHS for free and decide that’s just not their thing than to spend thousands of dollars on coming to the same conclusion while in college or technical school.”

 

 

 

Advanced Placement high school courses have standardized curriculums that are rigorous and often harder than some college classes.  

 

 

 

Says Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy, “Just by taking and passing an AP class, our students are already being introduced to college-level concepts.  By passing the international AP test at the end of the course, our students can also earn college credit.”

 

 

 

Students “pass” an AP exam with a score of 3, 4, or 5 on a scale of 1 to 5.  However, they do not have to pass the AP exam in order to pass the AP course for high school credit.

 

 

 

So why would students take AP courses with no sure guarantee of college credit?  As one recent WHS graduate explains, “I am so well prepared for college from just being in AP classes at WHS.  Honestly, some of my college classes are easier than the AP classes I took in high school.”  

 

 

 

Ms. Chancy stresses that AP courses are not just for students who are at the top of their class academically.

 

 

 

As a former AP Biology teacher, she says, “I have seen students who never thought they would take a course like Advanced Placement Statistics just thrive in there.  When students have the combination of an inspiring teacher and a challenging curriculum, they often find themselves achieving what they thought was unattainable.”  

 

 

 

AP data is from the College Board, which houses AP, plus the SAT college entrance exam, and many college prep resources.

Angie Walker, Tolar Griffin, Amy Bryan, and Jollivet Holmes are recognized

 

August 20, 2018

 

 

 

Wakulla County Schools’ Administrators of the Year and Employee of the Year for 2017-2018 were honored at the August 20 School Board Meeting.

 

 

 

District-Level Administrator of the Year is Angie Walker, Executive Director of Human Resources.

 

 

 

School-Level Administrators of the Year are Principal Tolar Griffin and Assistant Principal Amy Bryan from Wakulla Middle School.

 

 

 

Employee of the Year is Jollivet Holmes, who is a CDA (Child Development Associate) at Wakulla Pre-Kindergarten.

 

 

 

Executive Director of Human Resources Angie Walker was voted District-Level Administrator of the Year by both school and district administrators who work with her every day.  She enters her 33rd school year as an educator.

 

 

 

“Angie Walker plays an important role as HR Director by helping administrators find the right people to fill their school’s personnel needs,” says Superintendent Pearce. “She works with all of our new hires, and helps our experienced employees navigate changes in the workplace, among many other duties.”

 

 

 

Walker graduated from the University of Central Florida and began her career teaching 7th grade English for 5 years in Seminole County.

 

 

 

For the next 15 years, she called Wakulla Middle School home.  She taught Technology for 12 of those years, and was appointed as WMS Media Specialist for her last 3 years there.

 

 

 

In 2007, she moved to Crawfordville Elementary to start her career as an administrator. Walker spent one year as Assistant Principal at Crawfordville Elementary School before taking on the CES Principal job for the next 9 years. 

 

 

 

Notes former Superintendent David Miller, who appointed Walker as principal, “Her rapport with staff, students and parents earned her the reputation as a caring and high-performing administrator.”

 

 

 

In her third year of running the Human Resources Department, Walker says she loves being a part of the Wakulla County school system.  “I wake up enthused to go to work because of the people I work with now, as it was at CES and WMS.  The Wakulla School District employees have in common the love of helping children, and it translates into kindness and caring towards each other.”

 

 

 

Wakulla Middle School Principal Tolar Griffin and Assistant Principal Amy Bryan were voted School-Level Administrators of the Year by their peers.  Wakulla Middle School earned an “A” rating for the 2017-2018 school year.

 

 

 

An FSU graduate, WMS Principal Tolar Griffin began his career as a middle school Social Studies teacher for 5 years, then worked as a Curriculum Specialist for 2 more years, all in Leon County.  He spent the next 2 years as the Drop-out Prevention Coordinator and Principal of Taylor County’s Tech Learning Center.

 

 

 

Appointed as Assistant Principal at Wakulla Middle School in 2009, Griffin was hired by then WMS Principal Mike Barwick.  “Tolar Griffin has played an important role in Wakulla Middle School’s success,” says Wakulla High Principal Barwick.  “He works on making positive connections with his students, parents, and staff.”

 

 

 

Says Griffin, “My favorite part of being principal at WMS is having the honor of working with such outstanding students and staff.  Their hard work and dedication are the reason Mrs. Bryan and I were able to accept this award.  We have great students here in Wakulla County.  I learned from administrators like Mr. Pearce and Mr. Barwick to provide students with a top tier education by hiring extraordinary teachers and staff.”

 

 

 

Assistant Principal Amy Bryan of Wakulla Middle joins Griffin as School-Level Administrator of the Year.  She brings experience to the WMS administrative job from both the classroom and after school sports. 

 

 

 

An FSU graduate, she began working with children and families at the First Words Center for Autism. 

 

 

 

In 2004 she was hired at WMS and taught math, science, and social studies to 6th and 7th graders.  In addition, she helped coach soccer, basketball, and softball over the years, plus served as cheerleading coach for 10 years.

 

 

 

In addition, she served as the WMS Athletic Director and Yearbook sponsor, among many other leadership experiences she has had.

 

 

 

Says WMS Principal Griffin, “She maintains a positive, student-centered approach that parents and students alike respond to.”

 

 

 

Adds Bryan, “I am honored to receive this award, however it should really be a school award. It would not be possible without our awesome administrative team, our fantastic staff and our wonderful teachers who put in extra hours to engage our students. We are just there to support them and do what we can to give them what they need.”

 

 

 

The Wakulla School District Employee of the Year is Jollivet Holmes from Wakulla Pre-Kindergarten.

 

 

 

A product of Wakulla County Schools, “Ms. Jolli”, as she’s called at Pre-K, attended Shadeville Elementary, Sopchoppy Elementary, and graduated from Wakulla High School when it housed grades 7 through 12. 

 

 

 

She then earned her CDA (Child Development Associate) certification in order to work at the Wakulla Pre-K where she has taught since 1987.

 

 

 

“I love working with children,” Holmes says. “It has always been a passion ever since I was young. As a child, I would gather all my younger cousins and neighbor children and teach them in the side yard.  Occasionally I will run into students from this make-believe classroom who remembered me teaching them how to write their names and count.”

 

 

 

Notes Pre-K Principal Laura Kelley, “Ms. Jolli is such a positive force and experienced CDA who knows the developmental milestones of young children very well. With more than 30 years of sharing her love and talents with our littlest learners in the school system, I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor.”

 

 

 

Superintendent Bobby Pearce and the School Board members presented plaques to these four for their positive impact on the children of Wakulla County Schools in 2017-2018. 

 

 

 

Said Superintendent Pearce, “We are proud of the work you four have done and the work you will continue to do that positively impacts our students, parents, and whole community.  Thank you for always going the extra mile. Your colleagues, friends, and families came here tonight to show their support for you. It is a tribute to you that you packed the Board Room. They are here because they know how much effort you put into helping our children thrive.” 

July 30, 2018

 

 

 

Humble. Kind. Helpful. Compassionate.

 

 

 

These words were all used as family, colleagues and friends gathered to celebrate Sue Anderson’s career as an outstanding teacher and administrator at her retirement party on July 26.   

 

 

 

After 29 years as an educator in the Wakulla County School District, she will be retiring to spend more time with her family, including husband John, daughter Ashley, son Chris, daughter-in-law Christie, and three young grandchildren.

 

 

 

Superintendent Bobby Pearce presented her with a plaque, noting, “Sue Anderson put her heart into helping the children of Wakulla County, especially students who were struggling or ‘At-Risk’ of not being promoted.  She has a true understanding of children and their needs.”

 

 

 

He added, “But she also excelled at her final job as the District Director of Assessment and Special Programs. She trained every administrator and school testing coordinator in the district, and kept her door open and her advice available when the phones starting ringing during state test administration.”

 

 

 

“Plus all of our Title I schools have her to thank for guiding their administrators through federal regulations that meant more resources in our classrooms.  She dealt with all the federal Title issues, such as Title IX for equality for males and females in sports and other areas.”  

 

 

 

Retired Superintendent David Miller also spoke about how fortunate he was to have her in charge of so many areas at the District Office when he was there.  “Sue is a very smart lady and was always available to research information for me.  She definitely helped lead the district to an ‘A’ grade.”

 

 

 

Anderson began her career in Wakulla County in 1975 at Crawfordville Elementary School, when it housed grades K through 6.  She taught 6th grade and 4th grade, noting her gratitude towards former colleague Liann Douglas at CES for mentoring her.

 

 

 

After taking some time off to raise her children, she returned to work as the At-Risk Specialist, organizing classroom lessons and activities with Alternative Education teachers at Wakulla Middle School, later adding the new Riversprings Middle School.  She also spearheaded the Safe and Drug-Free Schools initiative and the Service-Learning program in Wakulla.

 

 

 

“I loved working with middle school teachers like Mary Nell Masterson and Queen Webster who never gave up on a student. They understood that our students at risk for not succeeding in school usually have a host of other issues they are dealing with. We attended conferences and did our research to learn different approaches,” says Anderson.    

 

 

 

Anderson holds certifications in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Reading Grades K through 12, and Educational Leadership.

 

 

 

She was named District Administer of the Year in both 2009 and 2015, but the award she is most proud of is the 2004 Florida Learn and Serve Award.  “We paired ROTC students who were good role models with at-risk middle school students to work together helping develop Azalea Park, among other projects,” says Anderson.  “Both the middle school and high school students learned a lot from each other while having a goal to work towards together.”

 

 

 

Anderson adds, “It has been an honor to work for a school system that I was proud to send my children to.  Sometimes it takes going to state conferences or collaborating with other districts to realize just how fortunate we are to live in a high performing school district.”

 

 

 

 

 

When asked what she will miss, she says, “It all comes back to the people. Dedicated educators. Involved parents. Children that many of us know in different situations, like church and rec park activities. This is a community that values educating their children, and I’ve been blessed to be a part of that.” 

Riversprings Middle School hosts new Nature Coast Region on February 16

 

 

 

January 18, 2019

 

 

 

Over 70 Wakulla County students and 15 coaches are gearing up for Odyssey of the Mind Regional competition on Saturday, February 16.

 

 

 

Ten Wakulla County public school Odyssey of the Mind teams are busy putting the finishing touches on their presentations for the initial round of competition in this international creative problem-solving challenge.

 

 

 

Participating Wakulla schools include Crawfordville Elementary, Medart Elementary (fielding 3 teams), Riversink Elementary, Shadeville Elementary, Riversprings Middle, Wakulla Middle, and Wakulla High School (fielding two teams).

 

 

 

What is different this year is the location, a lot closer to home at Riversprings Middle School. RMS has taken on the work of hosting Florida’s newest region, the Nature Coast Region. 

 

 

 

There will be hundreds of students, coaches, and spectators attending from the new Nature Coast Region of Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla counties.

 

 

 

For the previous 8 years, Wakulla teams had to travel before dawn over 170 miles to Crestview to compete in the Emerald Coast Region west of Wakulla. 

 

 

 

Notes Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “The Wakulla teams had already put in a day’s work just getting their students and their props to Crestview.  I applaud the RMS coaches and all the Wakulla coaches who jumped through a lot of hoops to petition for and create a whole new region closer to home to help their students be at their best for competition.” 

 

 

 

Odyssey of the Mind is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1978 by Industrial Design professor Dr. Sam Micklus to encourage students to “think outside the box” in finding creative solutions to very intricate challenges.

 

 

 

These problems include technical, mechanical, communication, structural, engineering, and performance aspects.  Teamwork is a key element to success.

 

 

 

Teams have been designing, building, writing and practicing since the beginning of this school year.

 

 

 

Odyssey of the Mind participation is for students in grades kindergarten through college, with scholarships offered at the higher levels.

 

 

 

Qualifying teams at Regionals then go on to State competition in Orlando at the University of Central Florida on April 6.  Last year, 6 of the 9 competing Wakulla teams qualified for State competition. 

 

 

 

State winners go directly to the World Finals where over 800 teams from 33 U.S. states and 15 countries will be competing at Michigan State University May 22-25. Two years ago, the first Wakulla team qualified for World Finals.

 

 

 

Students work in teams of seven all school year to solve one of five “Long Term Problems”, and present their solution at the Regional competition. Student teams also have limited time to solve a “Spontaneous Problem”, one they have never seen before.Describe the item or answer the question so that site visitors who are interested get more information. You can emphasize this text with bullets, italics or bold, and add links.

July 30, 2018

 

 

 

WAKULLA PRE-K (Wakulla Education Center)

 

Laura “Addie” Allen will be teaching Pre-Kindergarten. Crawfordville is her hometown and she has been teaching at COAST Charter School for 5 years.  She is certified in Elementary Ed. from Liberty University. Her hobbies are sewing, gardening, and crafting.

 

 

 

Alice Bickford has been working as an ESE (Exceptional Student Education) paraprofessional for 3 years at Crawfordville Elementary and will now be a teacher at Pre-K.  Originally from Ft. Lauderdale, she earned her degree in Child Development from FSU. She enjoys spending time with her family.

 

 

 

Sara Dow is a first year teacher and will be working at Wakulla Pre-K.  A native of Wakulla, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of West Florida.  She enjoys crafting and going to Disney World.          

 

 

 

Michelle Pitts completed 13 years of teaching in Leon County and will now teach at Wakulla Pre-K.  A native of Rockville, Indiana, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Ed. from Indiana State University.  She enjoys reading, painting and swimming.

 

 

 

CRAWFORDVILLE ELEMENTARY

 

Susan Jones will be teaching 5th grade at Crawfordville Elementary with 27 years of experience in the classroom.  A native of Tallahassee, she studied Environmental Science at Christopher Newport University and went on to earn bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Ed. from Florida Atlantic University, plus a degree in Biology from the University of the South in Tennessee.

 

 

 

MEDART ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

 

Brittney O’Brian will be teaching 2nd grade at Medart Elementary.  She has one year of teaching experience in her hometown of Tallahassee after graduating from Flagler College with degrees in Elementary Ed. and ESE.   Recently, she moved to Wakulla because she wanted to live and teach in a smaller community.  She enjoys cooking and spending time with friends and family.

 

 

 

RIVERSINK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

 

Diana Monkouski will be teaching 5th grade science and social studies at Riversink Elementary after 3 years of teaching in Duval County. She is from Sykesville, Maryland and earned degrees in International Relations and Spanish at Roanoke College in Virginia.  In her free time, she teaches yoga and indoor cycling.

 

 

 

Tylie Prince came back to her hometown of Crawfordville to live and to teach 3rd grade at Riversink Elementary. She brings 11 years of teaching experience from Colorado Springs; Clinton, Tennessee; and Department of Defense Schools in Europe.  Prince holds bachelor’s degrees in German and Biology, plus a master’s degree in Education, grades K through 8.

 

 

 

SHADEVILLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

 

Meena Mihalski will be teaching 4th grade at Shadeville Elementary.  She is a first year teacher, after graduating from Ohio State with a bachelor’s degree in 2017 and a Master of Education degree in 2018.  In her free time, she enjoys weightlifting, kayaking, hiking, singing, and traveling.

 

 

 

Jami Pekas will be teaching 1st grade at Shadeville. She is a native of Sarasota who graduated from FSU with a degree in Early Childhood and a minor in Child Development.  After one year of teaching in Williamson School District in Tennessee, she moved to Wakulla and loves the family feel here. Calligraphy is one of her hobbies.

 

 

 

Camden Smit will be teaching 5th grade at Shadeville.  Her hometown is in Lake County, FL, but her husband is a Wakulla native.  She has one prior year of teaching in Gulf County.  At the University of Florida, she earned a degree in Journalism.  On days off, she loves going out on the river.

 

 

 

RIVERSPRINGS MIDDLE SCHOOL

 

Carol Broome will be returning to RMS to teach 7th and 8th grade science after leaving to teach in Georgia last year.  She has 13 years of teaching experience, earning a bachelor’s degree in Child Development from FSU and a master’s degree in Technology from Canyon University.  Along with spending time with her family, she enjoys kayaking, hiking, and crafting.

 

 

 

Kim McMillan will be teaching 6th grade English Language Arts at RMS after working there as a paraprofessional last year.  A native of Alabama, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Troy State University.  Her hobbies include all things Harry Potter, reading, and creating art for her home.

 

 

 

Jessica Strickland will serve as an ESE teacher in grades 6 through 8.  A Crawfordville native, she earned bachelor’s degrees in Education and Exceptional Student Education from Flagler College.  She enjoys sewing, reading, and going on adventures with her five daughters.

 

 

 

WAKULLA MIDDLE SCHOOL

 

Alexis Branch will be teaching 8th grade English Language Arts at WMS.  From Marathon, FL, she earned a degree in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida.  Her hobbies include reading, working out, plus enjoying nature and art.

 

 

 

Patrick Whyte will be teaching Physical Education to students in grades 6, 7, and 8 at WMS.  A native of Palm Beach, he graduated from FAMU with a bachelor’s degree.  His interests include football, basketball, baseball, and track.

 

 

 

WAKULLA HIGH SCHOOL

 

Heather Cash will be teaching the new Cosmetology program at WHS, adding to the CTE (Career and Technical Education) course offerings where students can work toward industry certifications.  A Tallahassee native, she graduated from Aveda Institute.  She spends her time outside of work taking care of her family while spending time at the rec park, the family farm, or poolside.

 

Barbie Hartsfield will be teaching math at WHS.  A native of Panama City, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and taught in Leon County for 4 years.  She enjoys reading, going to the beach, and watching FSU football and Tampa Bay hockey games.

 

 

 

Sheryl Heninger will be teaching science at WHS.  A native of Panama City Beach, she attended Palm Beach Atlantic University where she earned bachelor’s degrees in Biology and in Anatomy.  She enjoys volleyball, beach volleyball, golf, tennis, and outdoor sports in general.

 

 

 

Robert A. Lane will be a new NJROTC instructor at WHS.  Originally from Valdosta, GA, he attended Ashford University and earned a degree in Early Childhood Education. 

 

 

 

Aaron Lohmeyer will be teaching Music (general and guitar) at WHS.  A Quincy native, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and three degrees from FSU: a master’s in Music, a master’s in Music Education, and a PhD in Music Education.  He enjoys playing the saxophone, guitar, and banjo.

 

 

 

Colleen Maley will be teaching science at WHS.  A native of Ft. Pierce, she graduated from FSU with a bachelor’s degree in Science Education and went on to teach in Texas for one year and in Tallahassee for 6 years.  She is enthused to meet her students and share her love of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

 

 

 

Eden Rodgers will be the ESE Coordinator for WHS.  A graduate of Wakulla High, she played softball at the University of Wisconsin where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.  She went on to earn master’s and education specialist degrees in Mental Health, and a master’s degree in Ed. Leadership.   She enjoys playing and coaching softball.

 

 

 

Hannah Strickland will be teaching science and AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) classes at WHS.  A Tallahassee native, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Valdosta State University in Exercise Physiology.  She enjoys coaching softball, going to the beach, fishing, kayaking, and hunting. 

 

 

 

WAKULLA INSTITUTE

 

John Cooper will be working as an ESE teacher for Wakulla Institute which houses alternative programs on the District Office site.  A Crawfordville native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Faulkner University in Alabama.  He taught in Franklin and Bay Counties for three years before returning to Wakulla.  He spends his free time as a football coach for Wakulla High.

 

 

 

DISTRICTWIDE

 

Sarah H. Hundley brings her skills as a social worker to serve children in any of the Wakulla County Schools.  The South Carolina native earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the College of Charleston and an MSW (Master’s of Social Work) from FSU, plus she has 23 years of experience in multiple states.  She is a writer who enjoys kayaking, bird watching, photography, and hiking/biking with family and friends.

 

 

 

ADULT EDUCATION

 

Francine Morgan will be working for Wakulla Adult and Community Education as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) instructor. The Monticello native earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from FSU, and worked in the Neonatal ICU at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  She enjoys gardening, kayaking, and going to the beach.

July 23, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Wakulla Middle School science teacher Katrina Roddenberry presented at the inaugural Space Port Area Conference for Educators (SPACE) at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on July 11-13.

 

 

 

In early 2017, Roddenberry was selected for Space Center Houston's inaugural Space Educators Expedition Crew (SEEC) and has been working with her SEEC Crew to inspire students and teachers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields for almost two years.

 

 

 

Space Center Houston launched the Space Educators Expedition Crew program in 2017 to help meet a nationwide need to prepare students for STEM careers. The crew aims to empower teachers to build leadership competencies by creating innovative STEM programs for their students, schools, and communities.

 

 

 

“My Space Educator Expedition Crew (SEEC) of four presented an interactive, hands-on lesson we co-authored entitled ‘Orion Splashdown’. In this lesson, we explore the Engineering Design Process and use it to solve an Orion spacecraft design challenge,” explains Roddenberry.

 

 

 

Roddenberry’s SEEC has presented this lesson at multiple conferences, including the Space Exploration Educators Conference in Houston, the National Science Teachers Association Conference in Atlanta, the Florida Association of Science Teachers Conference in Orlando, and now the Space Port Area Conference for Educators at Kennedy Space Center.

 

 

 

In addition to presenting and attending other sessions, the crew was able to meet inspirational keynote speakers, including former astronauts Eileen Collins and Winston Scott, as well as astrophysicist Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi.

 

 

 

Roddenberry also attended sessions by astronauts, NASA scientists, and engineers in various fields. “We heard first-hand information about the bold future of space exploration including the latest NASA commercial collaborations with SpaceX, Blue Origin, and others happening right now at Kennedy Space Center,” she added.

 

 

 

Roddenberry and the other educators departed at the end of three days with ready-to-go lesson plans and creative ideas to infuse their classrooms with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math) and multi-faceted, space-related curriculum content.

January 11, 2019

 

 

 

Wakulla High School’s Class of 2018 exceeded Florida’s graduation rate according to statistics recently released by the Florida Department of Education. 

 

 

 

WHS graduated 94.6 percent of its seniors within four years, as compared to the state rate of      86.1 percent.

 

 

 

Noted WHS Principal Mike Barwick, “At 94.6 percent, Wakulla High’s 2018 graduation rate improved on the 2017 WHS rate of 92.4 percent.  The level of teacher creativity in finding ways to get through to every student is outstanding throughout the whole Wakulla system, K-12.”

 

 

 

The entire Wakulla School District 2018 graduation rate of 90.1 percent includes students in alternative programs such as Impact, Second Chance, and Virtual School.  This 90.1 percent district rate improved over the 2017 Wakulla district rate of 86.7 percent graduating on time.

 

 

 

“Over the past five years, as a district we’ve gone from a 75.1 percent graduation rate to 90.1 percent using the Federal Graduation Rate model required of all public schools.  To see Wakulla’s graduation rate steadily climbing speaks to the dedication of our teachers, students, and parents,” said Superintendent Bobby Pearce.

 

 

 

The graduation rate used by Florida is a uniform Federal Graduation Rate that counts only students who graduate with a standard diploma within four years of starting high school.

 

 

 

Federal graduation rates also dig into specific subgroup data as defined by the U.S. Department of Education. 

 

 

 

Breaking the whole into subgroups, Wakulla students did well in every category.

 

 

 

For example, Wakulla’s Black students earned a 2018 graduation rate of 92.6 percent, exceeding the state graduation rate for Black students of 80.9 percent.  

 

 

 

Wakulla’s students with disabilities graduated at 81.3 percent compared to the state’s average of 77 percent.

 

 

 

The “at-risk” subgroup is defined by the USDOE as students whose standardized state test scores as they enter ninth grade are in the lowest performing 25 percent, or lowest quartile. 

 

 

 

Students in the at-risk category are given additional academic help throughout their school years.

 

 

 

Wakulla’s at-risk 2018 graduation rate is 77.2 percent compared to Florida’s at-risk graduation rate of 72.7 percent.

 

 

 

Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy noted, “We have been building a whole system of support for struggling students with programs such as Impact, Wakulla’s Virtual School and performance-based options so that there is a place for every student to earn a standard high school diploma.”

 

 

 

Added Superintendent Pearce, “Of the 67 counties in Florida, Wakulla was in the top 12 districts for 2018 graduation rates. That is a big feat for a small district.  I congratulate all of our 2018 graduates who worked hard to earn their diplomas, and the teachers and parents who supported them along the way.”

July 23, 2018

 

 

 

Shadeville Elementary teacher Kerry Adams earned a third award after first being named Shadeville’s 2018 Teacher of the Year and then being selected as the 2018 Wakulla County Teacher of the Year.

 

 

 

While attending the annual Teacher of the Year program in Orlando on July 13, Adams was presented with the Dr. Brian Dassler Leadership Award. The Florida Department of Education honors a Florida educator who personifies the values that made Dr. Dassler stand out among the crowd.

 

 

 

Dr. Brian Dassler, Florida’s late Deputy Chancellor of Educator Quality, was known for remaining in contact with past students and colleagues and celebrating their successes. He felt passionately that every student deserved to have a teacher better than the very best teacher any of the current educators ever had.

 

 

 

Said Florida’s Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart as she presented the plaque, “Kerry Adams is a wonderful example of how a creative, determined educator can make a genuine difference in students’ lives, and it is an honor to recognize her with such a special award.”

 

 

 

Currently Adams teaches 5th grade math inclusion classes and has taught all subjects in her 11 years of working with fifth graders.

 

 

 

Others also attest to Adams’ effective teaching skills. Her peers have twice voted her Teacher of the Month.  In addition, she was recognized by the Florida Department of Education as a “High Impact Teacher” due to her students’ learning gains.

 

 

 

She also received the “Best and Brightest Scholarship” for teachers because of the high rate of her students showing academic growth, plus she had to have high SAT or ACT college entrance exam scores as part of the criteria.

 

 

 

While Shadeville Elementary Principal Nick Weaver was attending the program in Orlando to support Adams as Wakulla’s Teacher of the Year, he unexpectedly got to see her win the Dr. Dassler award.

 

 

 

“This unforeseen award is well-deserved,” says Weaver. “Kerry Adams is a dynamic teacher who does so well getting most of her struggling math students to a higher level.  She is passionate about making sure her students have the tools to succeed, believing that academic success will boost their confidence in themselves in all areas.”

 

 

 

He adds, “She is a dynamic force around Shadeville. Adults and children alike respect her.”

 

 

 

Says Adams, “As 5th Grade Team Leader, I feel this is one of the most important jobs I have because my team has entrusted me to be their voice and to handle important tasks.”

 

 

 

Additional leadership roles she has taken on include Odyssey of the Mind Coach; Co-chair of the SES Spelling Bee; and Safety Patrol Chair where she organizes and runs this program with the 5th grade students.

 

 

 

Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “Congratulations to Kerry Adams on winning this award. Her ability to help children learn complex math concepts is due to the high expectations she has for them.  They know that she will never give up on them, so they start to see that they can’t give up on themselves. She is very deserving of this honor.”

 

 

 

Adds Adams, “The most important life lesson I teach my students is that even though things can be challenging, through struggle and desire, they can improve and achieve their goals.”

March 25, 2019

 

 

 

The 2019 Wakulla County Teacher of the Year Breakfast to honor all of Wakulla’s public school teachers took place at Riversprings Middle School on Monday, March 25.

 

 

 

Prime Meridian Bank sponsored the event. Executive Vice President Susan Payne Turner, Market President Lew Moore, Branch Manager Nancy Madden and Personal Banker Terra Sanders were on hand to decorate and to present cash gifts and gift baskets to the 2019 School-Level Teachers of the Year and the 2019 District-Level Teacher of the Year.

 

 

 

Prime Meridian also provided gift baskets for 16 Teachers of the Month.

 

 

 

Shadeville Elementary teacher Judy Paris is the 2019 overall District Teacher of the Year and will represent Wakulla County in July at the annual Florida Department of Education event in Orlando. There the Florida Teacher of the Year will be named from the 71 District Teachers of the Year.

 

 

 

The other seven outstanding School-Level Teachers of the Year for 2019 are: Staci Welch for Crawfordville Elementary; Joanne English for Medart Elementary; Ashlee Guess for Riversink Elementary; Lesley Jamison for Riversprings Middle; Mallory Harrison for Wakulla Middle; Patricia Bodiford for Wakulla High School; and Sharon Scherbarth representing teachers who serve students at several schools.

 

 

 

Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “These teachers and all of Wakulla County’s teachers are to be commended for the work they do every day to create positive learning environments for our children.  A special thanks to Prime Meridian Bank for sponsoring the breakfast this year.  It means a lot to our children and educators that we have so much community support.”

 

 

 

Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy and the Instructional Services Department coordinate the Teacher of the Year program.

December 14, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Judy Paris of Shadeville Elementary School was announced by Superintendent Bobby Pearce as the 2019 Wakulla County Teacher of the Year on December 14. 

 

 

 

Shadeville Principal Nick Weaver, Assistant Principal Frankie Harvey, plus students and colleagues were on hand to cheer for Paris as she received flowers, candy and balloons from Superintendent Pearce and Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy.

 

 

 

Paris will now go on to compete with the other 71 District Teachers of the Year for a Top Five Finalists spot.  In July, all school districts’ Teachers of the Year will be honored at the Florida Department of Education-Macy’s sponsored program in Orlando where the Florida Teacher of the Year will be announced.

 

 

 

A 5th grade math teacher, Paris is in her fourteenth year in education.  This is her sixth year at Shadeville. 

 

 

 

Paris earned a bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing with a minor in Mathematics from Louisiana State University.  She went on to earn a post baccalaureate degree in Mathematics Education and is certified in Elementary Education, Middle School Math, and High School Math.

 

 

 

In Louisiana, her extensive knowledge of how to teach math was honed as a 7th and 8th grade math teacher and as a high school math teacher of Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Trigonometry.

 

 

 

After teaching for seven years in her home state of Louisiana, Paris moved to Wakulla County and volunteered in her son’s kindergarten class at Shadeville before being hired there. 

 

 

 

Her philosophy of teaching is that “students thrive in an environment where they are encouraged to explain their thinking and try to understand how others think.  I aim to create a classroom where a love of learning is facilitated and where students build self-confidence.”

 

 

 

She has co-taught faculty workshops on Accelerated Math, is the Grade 5 Team Leader, and is Chair of the Shadeville Elementary Mathematics Committee. 

 

 

 

Paris was twice recognized by the Florida Department of Education as a “High Impact Teacher” due to her students’ Learning Gains, and has earned the “Best and Brightest” FDOE award for three consecutive years.  In addition, her SES peers voted her September 2018 Teacher of the Month.

 

 

 

Concrete evidence of success with her students is in their Learning Gains on the state’s mandatory FSA (Florida Standards Assessment) at the end of the year.  She says, “On the average, over the last several years, the groups I have taught have come to me with 40-50% proficiency and left with 90-100% proficiency in math.” Proficiency is considered on or above grade level.

 

 

 

But the most important discovery she made over years of teaching math is that engaging students in their own learning is the key.  “The instructional practices you will see in my classroom are practices designed to help my students become independent, strategic learners.  You will see my students attempting to solve problems on their own, and then engaging with their tablemates to explain their thinking.  Their use of math vocabulary and peer coaching is observable throughout the lesson,” she says.

 

 

 

Paris gives credit for her shift from teacher to facilitator on continuing her own education about how to translate math into something meaningful for her students, especially those who never felt successful in math classes.  “I have increased the percentage of student involvement because of using Kagan Structures, Accelerated Math, and High Yield Routines.  In my traditional classroom, I would question one student and get one answer.  In my current classroom, I ask one question and I get an answer from every student.”

 

 

 

Says Shadeville Principal Nick Weaver, “Mrs. Paris is a cornerstone of the 5th grade team.  Her students consistently improve their math scores, and usually 90% or higher show proficiency in math by the end of the school year. She is a true asset to Shadeville Elementary and to the teaching profession.”

 

 

 

In representing all of the Wakulla teachers, Paris says her primary message is that teachers are game changers: “We can make a direct positive impact in our students’ lives.”   Some students “lack the social skills needed to be happy and successful.  We need to teach them the skills of working together.  In a climate where students who have felt rejected act out with school shootings, we must find a way to make all of them feel heard and valued.  Working together brings a sense of belonging.”

 

 

 

Adds Superintendent Pearce, “Love of your subject matter is not enough to be a good teacher.  The art of engaging students in their own learning and helping them learn to listen to and respect each other’s ideas is the true test of a great teacher.  We wish Mrs. Paris the best in state competition, but we know that being Wakulla’s District Teacher of the Year is a great feat because we are fortunate to have so many excellent teachers here.”

 

 

 

The other seven outstanding School-Level Teachers of the Year for 2019 are: Staci Welch for Crawfordville Elementary; Joanne English for Medart Elementary; Ashlee Guess for Riversink Elementary; Lesley Jamison for Riversprings Middle; Mallory Harrison for Wakulla Middle; Patricia Bodiford for Wakulla High School; and Sharon Scherbarth representing teachers who serve students at several schools.

 

 

 

These representatives and all of Wakulla County public school teachers will be honored at a celebration on Monday, March 25 at 8:00 a.m. at Riversprings Middle School. 

 

 

 

Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy and the Instructional Services Department coordinate the Teacher of the Year Program and Breakfast sponsored by Prime Meridian Bank.

March 21, 2019

 

 

 

The recent “Wakulla County Schools-Sodexo Future Chefs Challenge” had eight elementary school finalists cooking for a local panel of judges, resulting in one overall winner, Riversink Elementary School’s third grader Raine Toombs. 

 

 

 

Superintendent Bobby Pearce introduced changes in breakfast and lunch service to Wakulla’s public education students beginning in the fall of 2016.  Sodexo, a worldwide “quality of life” organization, is in its third year of managing Wakulla County Schools Food Services.

 

 

 

At the helm is Lisa McCloudy, Sodexo General Manager of Wakulla County Schools Food and Nutrition Services.  In charge of Operations is Tiffany Pleas. All year they work on creating more student interest in nutrition, plus they run the day-to-day operations of feeding thousands of Wakulla students breakfast and lunch.

 

 

 

The annual “Sodexo Future Chefs Cook Off” is one of those events that stirs student interest.  On March 21, McCloudy and many of Wakulla’s Food Service employees organized the cook off that was held at Wakulla High School with this year’s theme of “Fiesta Fit, Mexican Food”.

 

 

 

Says McCloudy, “This annual event creates positive behavioral changes in students by enabling them to get actively involved in good nutrition.  More than 2,000 students representing over 1,300 Sodexo-served schools in 30 states were selected to participate in 110 events.

 

 

 

“Our eight finalists surfaced as Wakulla’s elementary students submitted their recipes and Wakulla Food Service employees chose two winning recipes from each of the four schools. 

 

 

 

“The eight finalists were selected based on the originality, presentation, ease of preparation, kid-friendliness, and healthiness of their recipes. One student’s recipe stood out the most and she was announced as the 2019 Wakulla County Future Chef winner.”

 

 

 

Finalists and their dishes are:

 

 

 

Raine Toombs (Riversink Elementary, Grade 3) - Mexican Quiche – First Place

 

Alexis Nichols (Riversink Elementary, Grade 3) - Chicken Lasagna

 

Jasmine Nettles (Shadeville Elementary, Grade 4) - Chipotle Bean Burritos

 

Savannah Giddens (Shadeville Elementary, Grade 3) - Zucchini Taco Boat

 

Christian Whitelock (Medart Elementary, Grade 5) - Avocado & Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

 

Brooklynn Green (Medart Elementary, Grade 5) - Bonus Burritos

 

Ivy Swope (Crawfordville Elementary, Grade 4) - Pulled Pork Burrito Bowl

 

Chase Hall (Crawfordville Elementary, Grade 4) - Mexican Corn Salad

 

 

 

First Place winner Raine Toombs stated, “I picked this recipe because it tastes good and it’s fun to make.” She also went on to tell why her recipe was so unique. The outer crust was baked sweet potatoes and that’s what made the quiche different.

 

 

 

Local judges’ comments ranged from “Students were great at answering our questions as we sampled their dishes” to “It was a first-class operation, with everything so well-organized.”  Another added, “I could not believe the depth of knowledge about ingredients, flavor variety, and presentation in students as young as third grade.”

 

 

 

“While healthy eating can be a challenge for children and parents, Sodexo has held Future Chefs events throughout February and March of this year. The winning student from each participating district will be considered for the regional finalist awards, and the selected regional finalists will compete to become one of five national finalists,” says McCloudy.  “We wish Raine Toombs the best of luck.”

 

 

 

“With a worldwide knowledge base on food and nutrition as well as national and international buying power, Sodexo has offered a new variety and quality of food to our students,” says Superintendent Pearce. “By involving our students in their own nutrition, we can hopefully influence them to continue to make healthy choices throughout their lives.” 

Bussey, Irons, Pascarella, Miller Receive Awards

 

December 17, 2018

 

 

 

Wakulla County School Board honored December’s Teachers and Employee of the Month, plus one November Employee of the Month at the December 17 School Board Meeting.

 

 

 

Notes Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “These four great examples chosen by their peers are recognized for going the extra mile in whatever capacity they are needed in our school system.  They truly help make every day count and every child, parent, and employee they come in contact with feel valued.”

 

 

 

ALISON BUSSEY

 

Pre-kindergarten teacher Alison Bussey was voted December Teacher of the Month for Wakulla Education Center (WEC) Pre-K.

 

 

 

This is Bussey’s 15th year in education.  She served as a substitute teacher in Wakulla for three years, volunteering and substituting at WEC and Shadeville Elementary School when her children were little, then went on to become a teacher at WEC. She is now in her 12th year as a teacher there.

 

 

 

Bussey says she knew from her experience substituting that “my heart and passion were with the younger students.”

 

 

 

As for landing in Wakulla County after growing up in South Florida, she reflects, “I grew up in a rural community outside of Ft. Lauderdale and always knew I wanted to raise my children in a similar type of community.  I went to college at TCC and FSU, met my husband, we got lost and found our first home in Wakulla.  We have no plans to ever leave.”

 

 

 

Bussey loves working with the children at WEC’s Pre-K, noting, “Their innocence, love, humor, compassion and drive to learn new things inspire me daily.”

 

 

 

But she also has fans in the older children who think highly of her from their days at WEC.  She shares, “Some of my greatest joy comes from former students who remember me years down the road. My first year students are in high school now; they will see me at football games and festivals or around town and make it a point to come say hi or give me hugs.”

 

 

 

Bussey’s leadership abilities at WEC range over the years from School Advisory Council member to PTA President to Mentor Teacher to Technology Coordinator. 

 

 

 

She also adds her current role as Coordinator of the “Blessings in a Backpack” program as one of her most important.   “Blessings in a Backpack” is a non-profit organization that feeds children who currently are fed during the week on the federally funded Free and Reduced Meal Program and are at risk of going hungry on the weekends.

 

 

 

Adds WEC Principal Laura Kelley, “Her classroom is well organized and full of daily excitement where her students are given the opportunity to be leaders as they perform their jobs as teacher helpers.  Her classroom community is one that mirrors a family whereby all students support, care for, and cheer for one another.”

 

 

 

CHARLOTTE IRONS

 

First grade teacher Charlotte Irons is Riversink Elementary School’s December Teacher of the Month.

 

 

 

While Irons is in her 5th year at Riversink, she is in her 14th year in education. For 9 years prior to coming to Riversink, she was teaching kindergarten and first grade in Texas.

 

 

 

Irons is far from her home state of Nebraska, where she grew up and attended college, earning a bachelor’s degree in Business and Administration from Chadron State College and a master’s degree in Teaching from Texas Women’s University. 

 

 

 

However, she feels at home here, stating “When I came to live in Wakulla, I knew I wanted to work and serve in the community that I lived.  I was fortunate to be hired by former RES Principal Jackie High.”

 

 

 

Seeing her students learn so much at their young ages, she says, “It is amazing to see students go from non-readers to readers.  I love that my little first grade friends come bounding in my room full of energy and ready to learn each and every day. They inspire me to do the best I can for them every day!”

March 11, 2019

 

 

 

Wakulla County School Board honored March’s Teachers and Employees of the Month at the March 11 School Board Meeting.

 

 

 

“These four employees show their dedication every day.  Every age child they work with from Pre-K through middle school, plus supervisors, colleagues, and parents, are fortunate to have them in their lives,” says Superintendent Bobby Pearce.

 

 

 

DAVID MCBRAYER

 

Riversprings Middle School math instructor David McBrayer was selected by his peers as March Teacher of the Month. 

 

 

 

“Mr. Mac”, as he is affectionately called by students and faculty alike, is in his 14th year at RMS.  Prior to being hired in Wakulla, he taught math for two years in Leon County. 

 

 

 

McBrayer has taught Advanced Math in grades 6 through 8, and currently teaches 8th grade Algebra 1 for high school credit, plus 8th grade Pre-Algebra. 

 

 

 

A graduate of Sneads High School, McBrayer went on to earn his AA degree at Chipola Junior College and his bachelor’s degree in Math Education from FSU.

 

 

 

“It’s the ‘ah-ha’ moments that put a smile on my face,” he notes. “I love when I can get my students involved with a lesson and watch them want to learn more.  I enjoy seeing them be so proud of a grade they earned that they assumed was impossible for them.”

 

 

 

As part of the AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) Site Team since 2008, McBrayer was integral in RMS becoming an AVID National Demonstration School.  He shares, “On a site visit from an AVID Regional Representative, I was pulled to the side. The rep said, ‘This is off topic, but we are interested in you working for us teaching AVID skills to other teachers.’ I never gave an answer, which really meant I am happy teaching at RMS.”

 

 

 

Notes RMS Principal Michele Yeomans, “Mr. Mac brings humor and passion for teaching to the classroom each and every day.  He is a team player and will do anything asked of him, from coaching girls’ soccer for 13 years, to currently being a Teacher Coach who mentors other teachers.

 

 

 

“In addition, he has an exceptional pass rate for students who take the state’s Algebra 1 exam to earn high school credit.  We are fortunate to have him as an RMS Bear.”

 

 

 

HEATHER HATFIELD

 

Crawfordville Elementary School chose 4th grade instructor Heather Hatfield as their March Teacher of the Month.  She is in her 15th year of teaching elementary-aged children in grades three through five.

 

 

 

A product of Wakulla County schools, Hatfield attended Sopchoppy Elementary School, Wakulla Middle School, and graduated from Wakulla High School.  She earned an AA degree from TCC and a bachelor’s degree from Flagler College. 

 

 

 

“When I go to school every day, I don’t feel like I’m going to a job,” Hatfield says.  “When my students walk through the door in the morning they are so excited to be here.  I enjoy the conversations we have and watching them grow throughout the year.”

 

 

 

When teaching can seem difficult as well as rewarding, she reminds herself of a past student: “He actually wanted to work for me to the point of taking the initiative to work on things at home.  His mother thanked me for not only helping her son believe in himself, but also for helping her realize that she wanted to learn also and she decided to go back to school.  This is a memory I will forever be grateful for, knowing that by doing my ‘job’ I touched the life of another.”     

 

 

 

In addition to teaching, Hatfield has coached the CES Odyssey of the Mind team for three years, been the Technology Chair on the School Advisory Council for 11 years, and is in her first year as a Teacher Coach for new teachers.

 

 

 

 “One thing that really sticks out about her class is the joy her students have while learning.  When you visit her classroom, be prepared to have students telling you about their work, from how close they are to an AR (Accelerated Reader) goal to showing you a diorama they created,” says CES Principal Louis Hernandez.  “Heather is a tremendous asset to the CES Cougar Team.” 

 

 

 

SUSAN KILGORE 

 

Susan Kilgore is the March Employee of the Month from WEC (Wakulla Education Center) Pre-Kindergarten.  She has spent over 20 years working with the youngest students in Wakulla County.

 

 

 

While many of the WEC staff have Florida CDA (Child Development Associate) credentials, Kilgore is one of three WEC employees who holds a national CDA certificate.

 

 

 

“The most enjoyable part of my job is when I see the expressions on the children’s faces when they experience something new or how excited they get when the light bulb goes on – they got it! Not to mention the funny things they say and do on a regular basis.  Never a dull moment at Pre-K,” laughs Kilgore.

 

 

 

About her job teaching Wakulla’s youngest students, Kilgore adds, “It is hard to express how it makes me feel when a former student recognizes me and comes up to me remembering things I did with them in their Pre-K classroom.  We’re talking about 3 and 4 year-olds.  Just to know that I made that kind of impression is priceless.”

 

 

 

In addition to teaching, Kilgore is the Chair and organizer of the Fall and Spring WEC Book Fairs, Co-chair of WEC’s Project Learning Tree, and has been a volunteer and organizer for the Pre-K Library for over 20 years.

 

 

 

“I first met Susan Kilgore 31 years ago when her oldest son was in my kindergarten class at Shadeville Elementary during my first year of teaching.  She was such a supportive and actively involved parent,” says WEC Principal Laura Kelley.

 

 

 

“Susan enjoys the day to day interaction with her students, colleagues, and parents.  She is a nature lover and transforms the outdoors into a place of exploration, inquiry, investigation and learning.

 

 

 

“Her daily quest is to find the humor in the words and actions of her Pre-K students.  She is dependable, loyal, and a team player that I am proud to claim as a member of the Pre-K Eaglet family,” adds Kelley.

 

 

 

SAMANTHA JACOBS

 

Riversprings Middle School Employee of the Month for March is Data Entry Clerk Samantha Jacobs.  She is in her third year at RMS as the first person parents see when bringing their children to school. 

 

 

 

Originally from Chipley, Jacobs moved to Crawfordville at age 7 and attended Crawfordville Elementary School, Wakulla Middle School, and graduated from Wakulla High School.

 

 

 

Prior to working at RMS, Jacobs was a substitute teacher in Wakulla for two years.  Before that, she spent 10 years at home raising her own four children.

 

 

 

“For years, I had served as a volunteer in the Wakulla County school system and worked as a substitute teacher,” says Jacobs.  “When I heard about the Data Entry position, I thought what a wonderful opportunity it would be to continue serving in the school system while allowing me to still be at home with my children after the school day was over.”

 

 

 

She adds, “What I really like most about my job is the interaction with RMS students, parents, faculty and staff.  I also love the sense of family at Riversprings.  As a mother of four, it is important to me that I am able to participate in special events that my children have going on.  At Riversprings, I am encouraged to do so.”

 

 

 

Jacobs also has not given up her work as a volunteer now that she has a full-time position.  For example, on her own time she has taken photos of the RMS Wrestling Team in action for the past two years.

 

 

 

“Mrs. Jacobs is a fantastic employee and member of the RMS Bear family,” notes RMS Principal Michele Yeomans.  “Every face that walks into our Student Services Department is greeted with a smile and treated with respect.  She is willing to help out anywhere, and works very hard to be the best at her job.”

Riversprings Middle School volunteers to host new Nature Coast Regionals on February 16

 

November 30, 2018

 

 

 

Ten Wakulla County public school Odyssey of the Mind teams are gearing up for their initial round of competition in this international creative problem-solving challenge that saw the first Wakulla team go to the World Finals two years ago.

 

 

 

Teams have been designing, building, writing and practicing since the beginning of this school year.

 

 

 

Odyssey of the Mind is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1978 by Industrial Design professor Dr. Sam Micklus to encourage students to “think outside the box” in finding creative solutions.

 

 

 

Problems include technical, mechanical, communication, structural, engineering, and performance aspects.  Teamwork is a key element to success.

 

 

 

Odyssey is for students in grades kindergarten through college, with scholarships offered at the higher levels.

 

 

 

Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “For the first time in our eight years of competition, Wakulla is hosting the Regionals.  Before this year, our teams had to travel before dawn over 170 miles to Crestview to compete in the Emerald Coast region west of here.  The Wakulla teams had already put in a day’s work just getting their students and their props to Crestview.”

 

 

 

“I applaud Riversprings Middle School for volunteering to host this newly created, closer Florida region. The inaugural Nature Coast Regional Tournament will consist of teams from Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla counties.”

 

 

 

Competition starts at the Regional level on February 16, 2019 at RMS.

 

 

 

Qualifying teams then go on to State competition in Orlando at the University of Central Florida on

 

April 6. 

 

 

 

State winners go directly to the World Finals where over 800 teams from 33 U.S. states and 15 countries will be competing at Michigan State University May 22-25.

 

 

 

Students work in teams of seven all school year to solve one of five “Long Term Problems”, and present their solution at the Regional competition. Student teams also have limited time to solve a “Spontaneous Problem”, one they have never seen before.

 

 

 

On November 10, RMS hosted over 200 students, coaches, and volunteers from the Nature Coast teams so they could practice their spontaneous thinking skills. Students prepared by working on prior years’ “Spontaneous Problems”.

 

 

 

Crawfordville Elementary’s team (grades 3-5) is coached by teachers Kirsten Brazier and Heather Hatfield.  Members are Sam Bruce, Kyle Randolph, Sydney Baker, Sylvia Boykin, Tucker High, Aaron Jones, and Trinity Eugene.

 

 

 

Medart Elementary is fielding three teams, all working on different problems. The Primary team (grades K-2) is coached by teacher Traya Terranova. Members are Emma Solburg, Bronson Sweatt, Seth Ward, Brayden Britt, Gus Barwick, Isaac Murray, and Pierce Vearil.

 

 

 

There are two MES Elementary teams (grades 3-5). Coached by teachers Sandra Whaley and Melissa Jackman, students are Trenten Barwick, Anarosa Callejas, Corbin Ferreira, Alexis Green, Kyrin Hand, Gabriel Harrell, and John Sanders.

 

 

 

The other MES Elementary team is coached by teachers Betsy Jones and Glenda Hance.  Members are Hayden Jones, Logan Hand, Hunter Hartsfield, Allison Wilsey, Isabella Ayotte, and Brooklynn Green.

 

 

 

Riversink Elementary is coached by teachers Audra Stokley and Molly Jones with volunteer help from School Board member JoAnn Daniels.  Elementary team members are Lillian Watters, Aubrey Wessinger, Jenna Burke, Bilal Agha, Ronin Taylor, Ivy Dozier-Beckstead, and Violet Sexton.

 

 

 

Shadeville Elementary is coached by teachers Amy Seidler and Kerry Adams. Elementary team members are Brody Beam, Jackson Crow, Kiley Lafferty, Kaylie Kosek, Emily Zak, Ella Zak, and Cadence Gouker.

December 7, 2018

 

 

 

Riversprings Middle School was approved to renew its status as an AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) National Demonstration School after earning the title for the first time three years ago.

 

 

 

In the 2015-2016 school year, RMS was one of only 152 middle schools in the United States to achieve AVID National Demonstration School status.  In Florida, there were only seven middle schools earning national recognition.

 

 

 

AVID is an internationally successful non-profit college prep program that began in the 1980s with one teacher in one classroom.  She saw college potential in students who were capable but not well prepared for college, or who were not encouraged to take college prep classes.

 

 

 

Currently, AVID is implemented in over 5,600 schools in 44 states and 16 countries, impacting over 900,000 students. Many AVID students are the first in their families to graduate from college.          

 

 

 

One goal is to target students who have the drive and desire to go to college, but who may not be recommended for advanced classes. These are capable students who are taught strategies to succeed in a rigorous curriculum.  

 

 

 

Says RMS Principal Michele Yeomans, “AVID is not about just getting into college. It’s about being prepared to stay there and graduate, then going on to have successful careers. In going for National Demonstration status three years ago, we learned that all of our students should have access to these effective strategies for academic and social success, not just AVID students.”

 

National Demonstration Schools use effective AVID strategies for everyone, school-wide.  They also serve as visitation sites for schools who want to implement or improve their AVID programs.  

 

RMS was initially selected through an application process, screening, and review that included a site visit from AVID state and national representatives.

 

The role of AVID District Co-Directors is shared by Principal Yeomans working with middle and high schools, and Medart Assistant Principal Katherine Spivey working with the elementary schools. 

 

Spivey also helped coordinate the original work towards National Demonstration School for RMS as District Director, and was both an AVID teacher and an AVID Site Coordinator at Wakulla Middle School.

 

RMS AVID Site Coordinator Kelly Dykes teaches the AVID elective class to some 7th and 8th graders and helps train other teachers in AVID strategies.  

 

RMS band director Luke McManus also teaches an 8th grade AVID class, and science teacher Richard Wallace teaches a 6th grade AVID elective class.

 

All the RMS teachers train on how to apply AVID strategies in their specific subject areas.  

 

AVID also encourages field trips to colleges, guest speakers on careers, and parental involvement.

 

“We have great teachers who have been through a lot of AVID professional development courses, and they have all contributed to our schoolwide goal of engaging students in their own teaching and learning processes,” adds Yeomans.

 

Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “If strategies work for some, we want to share these best practices with as many teachers and students as we can.  Every tool our students acquire can only help them be more successful with college, technical training, career opportunities, and problem-solving in general.”

November 3, 2018

 

 

 

Crawfordville Elementary School and Wakulla High School are on the list of Florida Department of Education’s recently released “Schools of Excellence”.

 

 

 

To be designated a “School of Excellence”, a school must meet an 80% threshold of possible points earned in the FDOE school grade designation.  Plus, they must have made a school letter grade of “A” for two out of the past three years.

 

 

 

Crawfordville earned 80.9% of the possible points for elementary schools for the 2017-2018 school year. 

 

 

 

Wakulla High School earned 83.3% of the possible points for high schools for 2017-2018.

 

 

 

Both schools earned “B” school grades for the 2015-2016 school year, and both earned “A” designations for school years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.

 

 

 

Some areas that schools are graded on are the percent of students at or above grade level in English Language Arts (ELA), Math, Social Studies, and Science on standardized state tests.

 

 

 

High schools have extra areas graded such as College Dual Enrollment courses passed, Advanced Placement scores, Industry Certifications earned, and Graduation Rate.

 

 

 

Another important factor in earning 80% or above of possible school grade points is measuring student growth from year to year.  These Learning Gains show student achievement in Reading/English Language Arts and Math.

 

 

 

The “School of Excellence” designation allows “administrative flexibility” spelled out by FDOE.  This gives CES Principal Louis Hernandez and WHS Principal Mike Barwick more control over class sizes and reading requirements, to name a few areas.

 

 

 

Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “This is an honor for these two schools to be recognized for such high achievement gains.  More importantly, it speaks to the idea that every child can learn.  All of our teachers and staffs are outstanding at helping every single child show academic, social, and emotional growth from year to year.”

November 7, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Superintendent Bobby Pearce recently announced the 2019 Wakulla County School-Level Teachers of the Year.  Surprising the teachers with flowers, candy, and balloons, students cheered as he entered each classroom to present the honor to their teacher.

 

 

 

The eight Teachers of the Year for 2019 are: Staci Welch for Crawfordville Elementary; Joanne English for Medart Elementary; Ashlee Guess for Riversink Elementary; Judy Paris for Shadeville Elementary; Lesley Jamison for Riversprings Middle; Mallory Harrison for Wakulla Middle; Patricia Bodiford for Wakulla High School; and Sharon Scherbarth representing teachers who serve students at several schools.

 

 

 

“There is a clear theme running through these eight selected by their peers: Teachers have to build positive relationships with their students before they can ever expect to teach them subjects,” he notes.

 

 

 

Nominations from each school’s faculty began the process in September, then nominees submitted professional and biographical information forms for their faculties to read. Faculties then voted for their school’s Teacher of the Year.  Selected teachers’ names were concealed until Superintendent Pearce visited each school.

 

 

 

Staci Welch of Crawfordville Elementary has been teaching kindergarten at CES for 18 years.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a master’s degree in Elementary Reading and Literacy.

 

 

 

Recent trainings include those at the Autism Institute and at the Wakulla County Schools ESE (Exceptional Student Education) Institute. 

 

 

 

Welch believes, “By providing stimulating lessons, including Kagan structures and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math) activities, we can help students think outside the box, and teach them to question and explore.  Too often students give up when an activity gets difficult.  We must teach them that we learn from our failures and successes.”

 

 

 

Leadership roles include School Advisory Council Vice-Chair in 2015-2016 and as School Advisory Council Chair from 2016 to the present.  She also served on the BPIE (Best Practices for Inclusive Education) Committee.

 

 

 

Joanne English teaches fourth grade at Medart Elementary School.  She has 31 years of teaching experience with the last five in Florida.

 

 

 

English holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She has taught children in grades one through four, lending her experience with multi-age classrooms, plus “looping” (teaching the same children for more than one year) to her teaching repertoire.

 

 

 

Her view is that “An effective teacher is one who builds relationships with each student.  Every child should feel loved and respected along with being gently pushed to succeed and feel self-worth.”

 

 

 

English was appointed Team Leader last year, and keeps that position for this school year.  She also is on the AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) Elementary team, the Recycling Team, and has trained in “The Leader in Me” program for students and adults alike. 

 

 

 

Ashlee Guess of Riversink Elementary has been teaching for 13 years.  She has spent the last five years as an RES fifth grade teacher.

 

 

 

Guess holds a bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Sciences and a master’s degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.  She is certified to teach children in grades pre-kindergarten through five.  For the past three years, she has been designated a Florida High-Impact Teacher due to the Learning Gains of her students on state standardized tests.

 

 

 

She also believes in the importance of getting to know her students well, saying “Effective teaching begins with building a positive relationship with students.  Knowing a student’s interests, strengths and weaknesses, along with their family dynamics, helps develop a bond where trust is established. It is important to gather data on students through informal observations and formal assessments to provide differentiated instruction.”

 

 

 

Guess established War Eagles Read at Riversink where Wakulla High School football players come and read with her students who have reading scores in the lowest quartile. In addition, she coordinates the RES Spelling Bee, Brain Brawl, and Safety Patrol.  She is also a Mentor Teacher to new teachers and an FSU Practicum Supervising Teacher for interns.

 

 

 

Judy Paris of Shadeville Elementary has been teaching for 14 years, the last six at SES as a fifth grade teacher. 

 

 

 

Paris earned a bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing with a minor in Mathematics.  She went on to earn a post baccalaureate degree in Mathematics Education and is certified in Elementary Education, Middle School Math, and High School Math.

 

 

 

Her philosophy of teaching is that “students thrive in an environment where they are encouraged to explain their thinking and try to understand how others think.  I aim to create a classroom where a love of learning is facilitated and where students build self-confidence.”

 

 

 

She has co-taught faculty workshops on Accelerated Math, is the Grade 5 team leader, and chair of the SES Mathematics Committee.  Paris was twice recognized by the Florida Department of Education as a “High Impact Teacher” due to her students’ Learning Gains, and has earned the “Best and Brightest” FDOE award for three consecutive years.  In addition, her SES peers voted her September “Teacher of the Month”.

 

 

 

Lesley Jamison is a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at Riversprings Middle School.  She has been teaching for nine years.

 

 

 

Jamison earned a bachelor’s degree in English Teaching from Eastern Kentucky University and has taught English in grades seven through twelve, including high school Yearbook and Journalism.

 

 

 

She believes, “Teaching means providing students with a base knowledge and then giving them the opportunity to become responsible for their learning through collaboration.  Students not only learn their grade level material, but also how to work with those around them while becoming responsible for themselves.  Both are necessary skills for becoming successful later in life.”

 

 

 

Her leadership roles include teaching her colleagues in workshops such as Kagan Strategies and Language Arts Writing. She is also the Cheerleading co-coach.  In addition, Jamison has participated in AVID Critical Thinking and AVID Summer Institute trainings, plus “Laying the Foundations” training on Secondary Pre-Advanced Placement from the National Math and Science Institute.

 

 

 

Mallory Harrison teaches English Language Arts and Critical Thinking to eighth graders at Wakulla Middle School.

 

 

 

Harrison earned a bachelor’s degree with a dual major in Elementary Education and in Exceptional Education.  She holds certifications to teach Elementary Education, Middle Grades English grades 5-9, Exceptional Student Education (ESE) grades K-12, and Reading.

 

 

 

She believes her students can become life-long learners by “sharing with others what they learn about teaching and realizing all the things that they have not yet discovered.  I want my students to become empowered by their own learning and development as teachers.  I create situations where my students can take charge of what they learn and how it applies in their classrooms.  Finally, I want them to realize that they do not teach subjects, but rather people.”

 

 

 

In addition to teaching, Harrison is a Mentor to new teachers, a Teacher Coach, head Soccer Coach, and 8th Grade Field Trip Coordinator. She also coached the WMS Odyssey of the Mind team for two years.

 

 

 

Patricia Bodiford has taught at Wakulla High School for 10 years, working with students in Exceptional Education classes grades nine through twelve.

 

 

 

Bodiford earned a bachelor’s degree with a dual major in Elementary Education and Exceptional Student Education.  She also has earned the Reading Endorsement.  She teaches her students using the Access Points ESE courses for all academics, plus she helps them be prepared for life after high school by supervising their Executive Internships.

 

 

 

She says, “Preparing students for the next grade, for college, and for adult life requires building character, cultivating diverse talents and interests, and supporting students’ physical and emotional well-being.  I believe all students can learn.  It may take more time or a child may learn in a different way, but I believe you should never ‘give up’ on a child.”

 

 

 

Bodiford is the ESE Department Chair, the High School/High Tech Coordinator, Glee Club Sponsor, and has been the Assistant Director and Inspiration Coach of the Year for Wakulla County’s Special Olympics. 

 

 

 

Sharon Scherbarth represents the teachers who serve students districtwide.   She is a teacher of the Visually Impaired, plus is an Orientation and Mobility Specialist.  In addition, she is certified in Varying Exceptionalities.  This is her twenty-third year in education.

 

 

 

Scherbarth says tells her students, “It is impossible for anyone to know everything, so knowing where and how to search for answers is critical.  They need to learn critical thinking skills in using the information they find.  My goal is to challenge each one to reach their individual potential.”

 

 

 

Professional trainings she has been involved with include the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference; Special Olympics Coaches Conferences and Leadership Conferences; Weekends with the Experts for Teachers of the Visually Impaired; and Wakulla ESE Institute sessions.

 

 

 

Involvement with the local and state Special Olympics has enhanced her leadership skills as she has taken on roles as Wakulla County director, coach, volunteer and chaperone of Wakulla students involved with Special Olympics.  She also earned the Special Olympics Florida (SOFL) Wakulla County Coach of the Year award. In addition, Scherbarth is the Local Assistive Technology (LATS) Specialist; Coordinator of the University Experience Program at Florida State University; and a volunteer for the Lighthouse of the Big Bend/Dining in the Dark event.

 

 

 

These eight are now in the running for Wakulla County’s 2019 District Teacher of the Year, who will be announced in December.  A qualified panel of judges will rate a written packet and an interview from each teacher. The 2019 Wakulla County Teacher of the Year will then compete with the other districts’ Teachers of the Year for the Florida Teacher of the Year award in the spring. 

 

 

 

States Superintendent Pearce, “These eight teachers are great role models for their students and for every teacher in the Wakulla County School District. That their peers selected them says a lot about the impact they have had on the students and adults they come in contact with every day. In addition, these teachers will serve on several Wakulla School District committees as a voice for their schools.”

 

 

 

All Wakulla County teachers will be honored at the Teacher of the Year Breakfast this spring.

October 9, 2019

 

Anti-bullying activist, teacher, and comedian Keith Deltano will be speaking at Riversprings Middle School at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 17.

 

The topic is “Bully Proof Your Child”. All parents of Kindergarten through Grade 12 students are welcome to attend at no cost.

 

A few of the issues he will be presenting include:

• Creating opportunities for social success

• How to respond to verbal and physical bullying

• How to deal with social media

Deltano shares his journey from being a troubled youth to joining the military to becoming an award winning teacher. 

 “This presentation is yet another way the Wakulla County School District is trying to boost its awareness of how we can help our students navigate through these formative years in our school system,” says Belinda McElroy, Mental Health Coordinator for Wakulla County Schools.

 

 “The mental health of our students is primary to their success in school and in life.  We welcome Mr. Deltano’s perspective,” adds Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.

Wakulla County Schools
69 Arran Road,
Crawfordville, FL 32327

Contact Us
Phone: 850-926-0065
Fax: 850-926-0123
The School Board of Wakulla County, Florida does not discriminate in admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, marital status, disability, genetic information for applicants and employees, or any other reason prohibited by Federal and State law regarding non-discrimination. See 34 C.F.R. 100.6(d); 34 C.F.R. 106.9; 34 C.F.R. 110.25. In addition, the School Board provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. This holds true for all students who are interested in participating in educational programs and/or extracurricular school activities. See 34 C.F.R. 108.9. Disabled individuals needing reasonable accommodations to participate in and enjoy the benefits of services, programs, and activities of the School Board are required in advance to notify the administrator at the school/center at which the event or service is offered to request reasonable accommodation. The lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to any opportunity or event associated with Wakulla County Schools. The designated Equity Coordinator, Title IX and Section 504 Compliance Coordinator as required by 34 C.F.R. 100.6(d) is Angie Walker, Executive Director of Human Resources, 69 Arran Road, Crawfordville, Florida 32327; 850.926.0065; angela.walker@wcsb.us.