Out2News Education 

School Choice Applications to be Accepted Starting March 1

19 Dec MC School Board Logo
21 Feb MC School Deadline

Stuart - The Martin County School District will begin accepting controlled open enrollment, in-county resident and employee school choice applications on Monday, March 1. Controlled Open Enrollment applications will be accepted through March 31, while in-county resident and employee choice applications will be accepted through July 31.

Options for Out-of-County Residents/ Controlled Open Enrollment
Controlled Open Enrollment is for out-of county-residents wishing to enroll their child in a school that has not reached capacity.

Per Chapter 1002.31, Florida Statutes, parents of students from any school district in the state that are not subject to a current expulsion or suspension can apply for Controlled Open Enrollment to any public, or charter school, that has not reached capacity in the district. Parents must provide their own transportation for students. Martin County School District schools’ capacities are determined using the Florida Inventory of School Houses at 75%.

For the 2021-2022 school year, out-of-county residents may submit a Controlled Open Enrollment application for their child to attend one of the following schools: Hobe Sound Elementary School, SeaWind Elementary School, Indiantown Middle School, Murray Middle School and Stuart Middle School.

Information for In-County Residents
In-County resident choice is for families of elementary and middle school students living in Martin County who want their child to attend a school other than the one they are assigned to based on their home address. Families must complete an application each year. Initial requests will be processed by the Deputy Superintendent’s office and renewals to continue at the same school will be processed at the school site. Assignments will be based on space available in the school/grade level requested as required by the class size amendment. Students need to be registered at their home-zoned school until choice request decisions are determined.

• High Schools - In-County Residents
• Students will be allowed to enter Signature Programs (programs that are available at only one location) at each District-operated high school. Each student must formally apply in writing to the school and be approved by the instructor and principal. Signature program applications are due April 2, 2021, for Martin County and South Fork high schools, and April 5, 2021, for Jensen Beach High School.

• Students must remain in their approved signature program to continue enrollment in their choice school. Should they exit their approved program, they must enroll in their home-zoned school.

• Jensen Beach High School will be an “open choice” for all in-county residents for the 2021-22 School Year. While students who would like to attend JBHS will not be required to participate in a signature program, those wishing to participate in one of these programs must still complete the application process.

Employee Choice Information
Regular employees of the Martin County School District must submit an application annually for their children to attend a school of choice. Initial requests will be processed by the Deputy Superintendent’s office. Renewals to continue at the same school will be processed at the school site. Assignments will be based on space available in the school/grade level requested as required by the class size amendment. Students need to be registered at their home-zoned school until choice request decisions are determined.

Information for All Grade Levels
• All students approved for school choice must provide their own transportation to their choice school.

• If a student moves during the course of the school year, the student will be allowed to remain at the school they were attending for the remainder of the year provided it does not create an overage for the class size reduction amendment.

• Children of employees will continue to receive choice preference subject to space available and class size reduction constitutional amendment.

• Revocation of school choice may occur due to disciplinary infractions, attendance and/or truancy. Revocation of school choice, if possible, should occur at the end of the quarter.

• Exceptional Student Education choice will be reviewed by the Exceptional Student Education Department.

Gaines Student to Compete at State Level

Article by: Nancy Spooner
Join us in congratulating Janessa Diaz for being one of the District Science Fair Finalist. Her prototype for a wind turbine will be moving on to the Middle School Engineering division of the state competition. She created a way to measure the efficiency of the turbine by using a pulley system and measured the results of the efficiency of the wind turbine daily to keep records of how the turbine performed.

As part of the Science Fair, the students were to create a short video presentation in lieu of being interviewed by the judges. Janessa created a creative animation video of herself explaining the project. Her Middle School science teacher, Jon Breedlove, and all of SGAET are so proud of her work and her creativity with her video piece as well!

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Northport SEL Night a SUCCESS!

Article by: Lynne Gruszka
Northport K-8 held its first SEL Virtual Parent Night. It was a Night of Family Learning (NFL) where students, teachers, and families experienced some of the engaging SEL activities that the children get to do each day! With 64 participants, the School-Home Connection was strengthened and fun was had by all! The event was sponsored by Chik-Fil-A and Sal’s Italian Ristorante, who provided door prizes. Northport K-8 provided a free book to all student participants! With virtual high fives and a virtual “wave” to end the session, everyone left with a smile. We are grateful to all of our participants and everyone who contributed to the event. Thank you to Blondeen Campbell, Cassey Chang, and Traci Wilke of the district SEL department for their support of the event.

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Oak Hammock K-8 Osprey Reward Program

Article by: Danita McClendon-Morgan
Oak Hammock K-8 participates in PBIS program as a schoolwide reward system. Students in the self-contained classroom in grades 4th- 8th operate the Osprey Cart Reward Program. This program allows the self-contained students many opportunities to practice functional skills by utilizing the task analysis approach for learning. The classroom teachers, Ms. Savanello and Ms. Haley support the students by providing the online order form and assist the students in breaking down the task into manageable parts to ensure the orders are completed successfully. The program is linked to ELA and Math, where the students practice counting, adding, and sorting. Students also have the opportunity to implement SEL skills such as collaboration, responsible decision making, leadership and reinforce positive behavior.

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Third Grade STEM in Action at Morningside Elementary

Article by: Lauren Monroe
Mornings are fun when they begin with STEM learning! In our literature text that we have been reading, Wonder, the main character turned in a project based on pyramids. Today, we identified the different parts of a pyramid and then began constructing different types of pyramids. We tested our pyramids for strength and identified the patterns in the shapes, faces, edges and vertices.

A Memory, A Moment, An Inspiration: One Teacher Inspires FPC through Photography

Article by: Katherine Avra
Steven Shotola may be a science teacher, but he has an eye for photography and the heart for inspiration. Each week he carefully selects an uplifting image to share with his Cobra Family at Fort Pierce Central High School. “I have been very grateful that our Principal Ms. Miller-Buchanan allows me to post an email “Photo of the Week” to the staff. I have realized over the years that maintaining a positive attitude towards teaching, no matter what the challenges are, is the key to building positive relationships and the key to constant school improvement” Mr. Shotola remarks. Both avid photographer and reader of nonfiction literature, Mr. Shotola creates dynamic and powerful combinations of nature or school-based photographs with powerful quotes. Each snapshot more unique than the next, Mr. Shotola draws from memorable moments, both visually and through text that share statements brightening the Friday morning of many staff members. Perhaps it gives them the extra boost needed to finish the week in a positive
and energized way. The ripple effect continues as staff members contribute photos to a contest in which donated t-shirts and coffee cups are awarded to the winners. “It has an enjoyable challenge to match a quote and photo each week and the positive feedback I receive is what continues to drive me to do it” Mr. Shotola pledges. His Cobra Family hopes he continues this tradition as well. Feel inspired? Start your own Photo of the Week at your school site!

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Lincoln Park Academy Girls Basketball Team is Headed to the State Final Four

21 Mar Lincoln Park

Article by: Candace Stone
The Lincoln Park Academy Girls Basketball Team defeated Lakewood High School (St. Petersburg) in front of a sold-out home crowd Friday night 38 to 30. The Regional Final victory sends the team to the FHSAA Class 4A State Final Four for the first time in school history. The team will play their state semi-final game against American Heritage-Delray on Thursday at noon at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. Congratulations to the coaches: Wendell Adams, Nicole Erickson, Veryl Moore, and Brandy Montgomery. Congratulations and good luck to the players: Lizbeth Ayala, Julianna Ball, Janiah Gardner, Dori Gayman, Trisann Gordon, Roniyah Johnson, Sophia Marrero, Christen McCann, Kayla McIntosh, Deborah Reese, and Autumn Thomas.

20 Aug Skin Serenity Spa Logo LG

Dr. Millay Welcome Music In Our Schools 2021

St. Lucie Public Schools Awarded Grant for $391,638 Expanding Marine Training Programs

19 Aug St Lucie Schools Logo

St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) was just awarded the Florida Pathways to Career Opportunity Grant in the full amount requested, $391,638. This coveted grant award, follows other recently obtained, large grants. This time, the grant award, fully funded by the Florida Department of Education, will allow SLPS to expand the pre-apprenticeship programs in Outboard Marine Service Technology at St. Lucie West Centennial High School, the Pharmacy Technician Program at Ft. Pierce Westwood Academy and the Technical Design Program at Port St. Lucie High School.

In addition to supporting the expansion of these pre-apprenticeship programs, the grant will also provide funds for teacher professional development, curriculum for students and industry certification tests. The grant will also allow for a redesign of industry specific, technical workstations for students and will support the District’s efforts in enrolling underrepresented student populations in these programs.

Aliesha Seitz, Director of Career and Technical Education added, “St. Lucie Public Schools is excited to be able to bolster these thriving programs through this grant. The longstanding partnership with the Economic Development Council and CareerSource Research Coast, who both support the connection we have to local industries, will continue to be a major factor in the future success of these pre-apprenticeship programs.”

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Tradition Preparatory High School, Raise the Walls Celebration

21 Feb Trad

Article and Photos by MaryAnn Ketcham

The recent groundbreaking, Raise the Walls celebration of the Tradition Preparatory High School is a W.I.S.H. come true for St. Lucie County students. The school, part of the Renaissance Charter family of schools, including two K-8 facilities located in St. Lucie and Tradition, all managed by Charter Schools U.S.A., is set to open in August 2021 and welcome 9th 10th-grade students in its first year of operation.

Nearly 100 guests, including many local dignitaries, sponsors, and a few potential future students, attended the exciting kick-off event.

In addition to delightful performances by Renaissance Tradition's chorus, attendees also enjoyed a sneak peek of a few musical numbers from Renaissance St. Lucie's upcoming production of The Little Mermaid, plus a couple of dance movement.With more than 20 years in the Charter School U.S.A. organization, Teresa Brown will serve as T.P.H.S.'s first principal. "My goal is to have the most innovative high school on the Treasure CoastCharter School U.S.A. Founder and C.E.O. Jonathan Hage said, "This school will not be like anything you've ever seen before! The unique Wellness, Innovation, Science, and Health, W.I.S.H., model prepares students for college, career, and life! "Students will have the opportunity to earn college credits through the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education or A.I.C.E. program and Advanced Placement classes.

"A charter school, such as Tradition Prep, provides an option beyond a student's zoned high school," said Hage. "What is best for the student? Perhaps the curriculum, class size, etc., these things are uniquely designed to provide the parent a choice and the student a custom education that best fits their learning style. It's about results!"

Because extra-curricular activities play a vital role in developing life and leadership skills, a full array of clubs, arts, athletics, and performing arts will be available. Tradition Prep will have a Black Box Theatre, the first school in St. Lucie County to have one.

With its Pirate mascot at the helm, community-involved events will include Talk Like a Pirate Day, a Pirate 5k run, and more!

Port St. Lucie City Councilwoman said, "It's critical for the success of our children and the growth of our community to have innovative schools such as the Tradition Preparatory High School!"

Tradition Prep is a tuition-free 9-12 public charter high school. Enrollment is currently limited to 9th and 10th-grade students.

To apply, please visit TraditionPrep.org or email info-tradprep@traditionprep.org.

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In Photo: PSL Mayor Greg Oravec and Founder CEO Charter Schools USA Jon Hage

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In Photo: HS Principal Teresa Brown with Curtis Johnson of City of Fort Pierce

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In Photo: Lauren Slater and Matt Berkis of Mattamy Homes

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In Photo: Catherine Thomson for State Rep. Dana Trabulsy and Angel Robertson for US Congressman Brian Mast

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In Photo: SLC Clerk of Court Michelle Miller with Jill Todd

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In Photo: Principal Teresa Brown

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In Photo: Brad Hill, Doug Dieck, Josh Grodin, Dr. Patrick Galatowitsch, Jonathan Brownfield, David Christiansen and Jim Lonergan

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In Photo: Dr. Eddie Ruiz, Christiana Coburn, Amanda Wilson, Teresa Brown

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In Photo: Jane Rowley and Bill May

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In Photo: Mayor Greg Oravec center. Pictured with staff and board members of Charter Schools USA

St. Lucie Public Schools Awarded Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant for $391,638

St Lucie Public Schools Logo

St. Lucie County – St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) was just awarded the Florida Pathways to Career Opportunity Grant in the full amount requested, $391,638. This coveted grant award, follows other recently obtained, large grants. This time, the grant award, fully funded by the Florida Department of Education, will allow SLPS to expand the pre-apprenticeship programs in Outboard Marine Service Technology at St. Lucie West Centennial High School, the Pharmacy Technician Program at Ft. Pierce Westwood Academy and the Technical Design Program at Port St. Lucie High School.

In addition to supporting the expansion of these pre-apprenticeship programs, the grant will also provide funds for teacher professional development, curriculum for students and industry certification tests. The grant will also allow for a redesign of industry specific, technical workstations for students and will support the District’s efforts in enrolling underrepresented student populations in these programs.

Aliesha Seitz, Director of Career and Technical Education added, “St. Lucie Public Schools is excited to be able to bolster these thriving programs through this grant. The longstanding partnership with the Economic Development Council and CareerSource Research Coast, who both support the connection we have to local industries, will continue to be a major factor in the future success of these pre-apprenticeship programs.”

Forest Grove MOA Prep Students Continue Field Studies

21 Feb Prep Students

Article & Photo by: Tari Sexton

On January 30, 2021, current 8th grade MOA Prep students joined together with 9th grade MOA (all former Forest Grove MOA students) in collecting data for ORCA (Ocean Research and Conservation Association, Inc.). The students continue to participate in this field study by collecting physical, chemical and biological data. This data will be used for a long term, quarterly study on the health of the Indian river Lagoon.

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Do you have something to say, an event to talk about? An event you would like to have covered? Do it here!

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Aerospace Grad Lands Job Working With Drones

21 Feb Drone

Article & Photos by: Dana Caputo
Jacob Kendrick, 2020 St Lucie Public Schools and Fort Pierce Central High Aerospace Institute graduate, landed a job with a drone contractor for FPL. In March 2020, while a senior at Central, Jacob received his Drone Pilot’s License. Now, he travels around Florida inspecting FPL power lines with drones. He is pictured working in Bunnell, FL inspecting a 37-mile-long stretch. Jacob is also pursuing his bachelor’s Degree with IRSC. Go Cobras! Level up CTE!

Out2News.com LLC. is a photo journal featuring people, “Who they are, what they do and where they do it”.

Do you have something to say, an event to talk about? An event you would like to have covered? Do it here!

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Education’s Shining Stars Announced

St Lucie Public Schools Logo

St. Lucie County — In a blended virtual and live broadcast on Saturday, February 6, 2021, St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) and the Education Foundation of St. Lucie County announced this year’s line-up of educational superstars. Lauren Kappler took top honors as St. Lucie County’s Teacher of the Year. She is a Civics Teacher at West Gate K-8 School. Joining her in the winner’s category were School Related Employee of the Year, Maria Carley, a School Assessment Clerk from St. Lucie Elementary School, Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year, Mildred Brown, a Criminal Justice Teacher from Ft. Pierce Westwood Academy, and Outstanding First Year Teacher, Jewel Edwards, a U.S. History Teacher from the Creative Arts Academy of St. Lucie.

Teacher of the Year Lauren Kappler says that her passion for teaching comes from her students. She knows if her students feel that they are cared for and loved, then learning will take place. Kappler said, “I chose to be a teacher because I want each student to know that they have a place in this world and it’s just a matter of finding out what that place is.” She explained further that she wants to be a small part of her students’ educational journey. Based on that belief, she works diligently to find out how each student learns best and uses a variety of teaching styles and instructional tools in her classroom to help them learn new concepts. Her goal is to help her students realize the potential within them to become the best versions of themselves.

Superintendent E. Wayne Gent said, “These outstanding individuals exemplify excellence in teaching and distinction in providing a positive teaching and learning environment in SLPS. They represent what’s best about SLPS and they are why we are making great strides.”

Education Foundation President Thom Jones considers the Night of the Stars a highlight each year. “Honoring our teachers and support staff for the work they do each day for our students is central to The Education Foundation’s mission which is to recognize excellence in education and support teacher development.” Jones also points out that the corporate sponsors are just as focused on the mission. MIDFLORIDA Credit Union sponsored both the Teacher of the Year and School Related Employee of the Year categories and Herff Jones honored the Teacher of the Year winner with a commemorative ring. Keiser University sponsored the Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year, and Seacoast Bank sponsored The Outstanding First Year Teacher. Jones also offered a special thank you to the many other event sponsors.

Event Coordinator Dr. Kevin G. Perry said, “The honorees at this annual event represent the high-quality educators and staff who support our students’ tremendous academic gains. Our distinguished honorees not only embody the mission of the District but go beyond and surpass expectations.”

St. Lucie County’s Teacher of the Year and School Related Employee of the Year will now move on to the state level competition. In the category of Teacher of the Year, the State has a long-standing tradition that recognizes and honors the contributions of outstanding classroom teachers who have demonstrated a superior capacity to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities. The state finalist for The Florida Teacher of the Year also serves as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education and represents the Florida Department of Education and teachers throughout the state.

21 Feb Kappler

Mrs. Kappler’s kind and caring demeanor are unparalleled. She works diligently to help build students’ confidence and competence. She refuses to let any student fall behind. She is proud of each success and celebrates her students’ growth continuously. Her impact is not only felt by her students, but she has had a tremendous impact on the teachers at her school as well. With the shift to some classes being taught virtually this year, Mrs. Kappler has taken the lead to train the teachers at West Gate on Nearpod. This instructional platform makes virtual lessons extremely engaging for students and the teachers at her school have stated that the new skills that they have learned from her are a “game-changer.” Lauren Kappler’s extraordinary knowledge, skills, and ability to teach effectively make her most deserving of this recognition.

21 Feb Carley

There is no job too big or too small for Maria Carley. She is constantly on the move supporting every aspect of her school and the achievement of the students. Maria ensures all teachers have everything they need to be successful during testing, and even schedules herself to support the testing environment as an “extra set of hands and eyes” in the classroom. She also organizes and orchestrates the school-wide student achievement celebrations, including the “Rising Star of the Month” ceremony and honor roll assemblies. Ms. Carey epitomizes each quality of an outstanding school related-employee.

21 Feb Brown

Prior to becoming a teacher, Ms. Brown was the first black female SLC Sheriff’s Deputy in 1993 where she served until 2012. She then moved to Westwood to start the Criminal Justice Industry Certification program which has recently expanded to include the 911 Operator Program. Mrs. Brown is recognized as a “teacher leader” because she is an educator that has experience working with students who come from poverty. Furthermore, she serves as a caring adult who taps into students’ strengths and supports their path to success. She was recently appointed as the Career and Technical Education Department Chair overseeing 13 teachers. Included in this role is monitoring the progress that all students across the school are making with their industry certifications. Mrs. Brown embodies the mission of St. Lucie Public Schools as she helps to ensure that all students graduate equipped with the skills, knowledge, and desire to succeed.

21 Feb Edwards

When you walk into Ms. Edward’s classroom you can feel the excitement and warmth of Ms. Edward’s teaching style. She may be a first-year teacher; however, her leadership qualities are clearly evident. She is a strong contributor to her Social Studies team and the school as a whole. She not only makes an impact in the classroom, her volunteer work in the community does not go unnoticed. In her spare time, she prepares food bags for the homeless, registers people to vote, and is involved in many community events.

District Honors 2020-2021 School-Related Employees of the Year

19 Dec MC School Board Logo

Stuart - The Martin County School District held its annual School-Related Employee of the Year recognition ceremony on Wednesday, February 3, 2021. The celebration was held in a virtual format as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-eight outstanding employees were nominated by their school and department sites for this prestigious awards program, which is part of a Florida Department of Education initiative designed to honor educational support personnel for the significant contributions they make to their schools and school districts.

“It is such an honor to be part of the School-Related Employee of the Year recognition program,” Superintendent John D. Millay shared. “We have hundreds of employees working behind the scenes to support our students, teachers and classrooms in numerous ways each day. I offer my congratulations and sincere appreciation to each of our outstanding nominees for their role in fostering positive, nurturing environments for all students.”

Rocio Yvonne Potsko of Food & Nutrition Services was named the overall winner of the 2020-2021 School-Related Employee of the Year Award. Ms. Potsko will move on to represent the Martin County School District in the Florida School-Related Employee of the Year competition.

“Mrs. Potsko’s mission is to provide resources that nourish student success,” Laura Holmedal, Director of Food & Nutrition Services, wrote in her letter of recommendation. “Innovation and creativity are synonymous with Yvonne. Her proficiency in communication and marketing give students the opportunity to engage in the food service program. Her efforts [have led] to multiple awards from the School Nutrition Association, United States Department of Agriculture and Florida Dairy Association. The students in Martin County benefit daily from Yvonne’s commitment to improving student health and from her exceptional service.”

“Ms. Potsko is a shining example of a Martin County School District employee who excels in her role and understanding of how her work aligns with our mission of educating all students for success,” Dr. Millay shared. “She wholeheartedly believes that students perform better in the classroom if they have access to healthy meals, and she has implemented a variety of campaigns and strategies that make the exploration of healthy choices fun for even the pickiest of eaters. I am honored to have Ms. Potsko represent the District as our 2020-2021 School-Related Employee of the Year.”

Congratulations to each of our 2020-2021 Employee of the Year nominees:

• Holly Brewer, Data Entry/Guidance Clerk – Bessey Creek Elementary

• Gina Williamson, ESE Paraprofessional – Citrus Grove Elementary

• Lisa Williams, Secretary to the Principal – Crystal Lake Elementary

• Vivian Diaz-Felipe, Home School Liaison – Dr. David L. Anderson Middle

• Kristin Ash, ESE Paraprofessional – Felix A. Williams Elementary

• Raquel Queen-Young, Accounts Payable Supervisor – Finance Department

• Rocio Yvonne Potsko, Registered Dietician – Food & Nutrition Services Department*

• Sandra Hart, Class Manager Assistant – Head Start and Pre-K Programs

• Diane Haase, Secretary – Hidden Oaks Middle

• Ruth March, Parent Liaison – Hobe Sound Elementary

• Barbara Velez, Administrative Assistant – The Hope Center for Autism

• Nais Lopez, HR Specialist – Human Resources Department

• Stephanie Kay Brown, Food & Nutrition Services Manager – Indiantown Middle

• Christina Lee Chong, Data Entry Clerk – J.D. Parker Elementary

• Abigail Eckler, ESE Paraprofessional – Jensen Beach Elementary

• Amy Rau, Secretary to the Principal – Jensen Beach High

• Santos Gaitan-Hernandez, Utility Worker – Maintenance Department

• Quanita Denise Hamilton, Assistant Secretary – Martin County High

• Israel Cruz, Custodian – Murray Middle

• Thomas Michels, Plant Operator - Palm City Elementary

• Eva Maria Anderson, Home School Liaison – Pinewood Elementary

• Viridiana Cruz Hernandez, Assistant Secretary – Port Salerno Elementary

• Karyn Elisabeth Beuscher, Paraprofessional – Riverbend Academy

• Georgia Aretha Foster, Health Assistant – SeaWind Elementary

• Debbie Ezzo, Guidance Secretary – Stuart Middle

• Judy Eckhardt, Plant Operator – South Fork High

• Nicolasa Martinez, Home School Liaison – Warfield Elementary

• Michael Skinner, Custodian – Willoughby Learning Center

*Denotes the overall winner of the 2020-2021 Employee of the Year award

District, Education Foundation of Martin County Announce 20-21 Teacher of the Year

21 Jan Teacher of the Year

Stuart - The Education Foundation of Martin County (EFMC) and the Martin County School District (MCSD) are proud to announce that Martin County High School’s Leigh Anne Pike has been named the District’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year. The winner was announced during the Education Foundation of Martin County’s Teacher of the Year announcement event on Saturday, January 30, 2021, at Audi Stuart. This year’s presenting sponsors are Audi Stuart and Infiniti Stuart.

Ms. Pike, a Library Media Specialist, has spent the last 16 years as an educator in the Martin County School District, including the last three at Martin County High School (MCHS). Dedicated to ensuring the success of all students, she has worked as an elementary Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teacher at the elementary level and also as a Response to Intervention (RTI) coach. She brings her passion for technology and digital citizenship to her current role as the Library Media Specialist at MCHS, where she fosters a thirst for knowledge in her students.

“All too often we hear, even from adults, ‘I hate to read.’ We have to be inventive and changing to meet the literacy needs of today’s youth,” Ms. Pike wrote in her nomination packet. “Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim on the future. In our business, the future rests in our children becoming productive, responsible citizens.”

Prior to her arrival at Martin County High School, Ms. Pike served for seven years as the Library Media Specialist at Palm City Elementary School (PCE). It was here that she began to realize the crucial role she played in supporting what students were learning in their classrooms.

“Reading should be linked to or embedded within the study of subjects,” she shared. “To support this end at Palm City Elementary, I created and promoted STEAMLINE. STEAMLINE is Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math, Literacy, Inquiry, Navigation and Exploration.”

Her tagline and the very real subjects that supported it spread quickly across campus. Community coding collaborations were established, contests for students to create artwork depicting their favorite literary characters were launched, and weekly STEAMLINE enrichment classes – which allowed students to dress up as scientists and investigate concepts – quickly became popular events. Perhaps most popular with students was the creation of the Wizarding World of PCE -a personal spin on J.K. Rowling’s hit Harry Potter series. Students were immersed into Hogwarts and enrolled in herbology, potions, magic and flying classes to earn highly-coveted wands.

“Yearly data from the Florida Standards Assessment program attests to the value of a school embedded with a STEAMLINE culture, as Palm City Elementary has achieved and maintained an ‘A’ school rating since its inception,” Ms. Pike said. “Still within my third year at Martin County High School, many of these initiatives influence the changes I am making here.”

“Leigh Anne Pike brings something special to Martin County High School,” Principal Al Fabrizio wrote in his letter of recommendation. "Our media center has undergone various changes throughout the years. However, in the last two years under Leigh Anne’s leadership, the space has transformed right before our eyes. The media center has become a place where many students want to be. Any requested assistance is met with a smile, attention to detail and a dedication that rises above all expectations. Leigh Anne exemplifies what it means to be an extraordinary teacher leader; her knowledge and leadership is extremely valuable to the students and adults at Martin County High School.”

“I seize every opportunity I can to consciously learn new things so that I may live life more deeply,” Ms. Pike shares. “Never stop learning, ‘cause life never stops teaching. Seeing others learn and learning with them excites me. I feel alive!”

Superintendent John D. Millay was proud to see Ms. Pike take home this year’s award.

“Leigh Anne Pike is an outstanding educator who recognizes the importance of making learning come to life for students,” he shared. “In her role as a library media specialist, she continues to masterfully develop initiatives that support and reinforce the learning that is occurring in classrooms. She is an admired strategic thinker who always maintains her positivity and growth mindset. I am honored to have her represent the Martin County School District as the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year.”

“The Education Foundation of Martin County, with support from our wonderful community sponsors, is proud and honored to produce the Teacher of the Year program," said Tyson Waters, President of the EFMC. "This event, though different than years past due to COVID-19, is always a wonderful time to celebrate our teachers. Our community is so fortunate to have so many exceptional educators who have such an impact on our children each and every day. Our Martin County Teacher of the Year, Leigh Anne Pike, is a shining example of all the incredible things our teachers do and the difference they make in our lives. We congratulate Leigh Anne, and look forward to supporting her as she represents Martin County in the running for Florida's Teacher of the Year award."

"There is a certain magic and beauty on the face of a child as they enter the classroom for the first time,” said Mario Murgado, President/CEO of Infiniti Stuart and Audi Stuart. “The teacher may not even understand what is happening as they greet the children on that first day as they look into the eyes of a future president, scientist, firefighter, Nobel peace prize winner, teacher, architect or nurse. The possibilities of what these children can become are limitless. One book, one child, one teacher can change the world!”

In addition to honoring the District’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year, winners were recognized in the Elementary, Middle and High School categories:

Elementary Teacher of the Year – sponsored by Publix Super Market Charities

Kate Logan, Port Salerno Elementary School, Fifth Grade Teacher

Ms. Logan is currently in her seventh year as an educator in the Martin County School District. In addition to teaching her fifth-grade students, she has served as a spelling bee coach, book bowl coach, PTO member, and AVID school representative at Port Salerno Elementary School. She is a member of the NAACP of Martin County and previously taught karate at Dragon Dojo in Hobe Sound.

“One of my favorite moments of the day happens while I stand outside the door, waiting for my students to be released [from related arts],” Ms. Logan wrote in her nomination packet. “Often, I arrive and get a peek inside the classroom while they clean up an art project or finish a song on the recorder. Inevitably, a child looks up and catches my eye through the rectangular window in the door. They smile or wave and my heart fills. This is the moment that inspires me above all others – the joy I feel when I see my students for the first time each morning and they see me, and the expectations for a day full of laughter and learning.”

“Ms. Logan’s strengths are her willingness to take risks, flexibility, interpersonal skills, setting high expectations for her students, understanding of diverse learning needs, commitment to social justice and eagerness to learn new skills,” Principal Allysa Eberst wrote in her letter of recommendation. “Ms. Logan is a strong advocate for her students. She plans to meet their needs and delivers differentiated instruction. She willingly assists others and shares her knowledge and expertise.”

Middle School Teacher of the Year – sponsored by Education Foundation of Martin County

Juanita Johnson, Stuart Middle School, English Language Arts Teacher

Ms. Johnson is currently in her thirteenth year as an educator and her third year serving the children of Martin County. In addition to teaching English Language Arts, she also serves as the School Culture Leader and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) Coordinator at Stuart Middle School. She was recognized by the Florida Department of Education in 2018 as a High Impact Teacher.

“I am a teacher because for the kids who remember me with a smile, a ‘Gosh, Ms. Johnson was tough!’ or my favorite – ‘you’re the teacher I didn’t ask for but know I needed’ – to them, I changed a small part of their world,” Ms. Johnson wrote in her nomination packet. “It is my hope they will pay it forward, that they will help someone else. I will never be known as one of the greats – a Nelson Mandela or Muhammad Ali – but I work hard to change the world.”

“Juanita is an innovative teacher who seamlessly incorporates technology to engage students and to monitor their progress,” Principal Ebony Jarrett wrote in her letter of recommendation. “She challenges students to reach their full potential while developing lessons and activities that also focus on the social-emotional needs of middle school learners. She understands the importance of building positive relationships with students and works to create a welcoming and supportive learning environment to ensure that all learners reach their highest potential.”

High School Teacher of the Year – sponsored by Keiser University, Port Saint Lucie

Leigh Anne Pike, Martin County High School, Library Media Specialist
**Winner of the 2020-2021 Martin County School District Teacher of the Year Award

MARTIN COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT TO UNVEIL NEW SAFETY SOLUTION

19 Dec MC School Board Logo

CrisisAlert™ Empowers Faculty and Staff with Mobile Badges - Employees Can Call for Emergency Assistance from ANYWHERE on ANY CAMPUS

WHO: Dr. John D. Millay, Superintendent of Schools; Mr. Frank Frangella, Director of Safety and Security; Dr. Nicole Rathnaw, Principal - J.D. Parker Elementary School

WHAT: Live demonstration of CrisisAlert™, the Martin County School District's new safety and security platform.

All Martin County School District employees can now call for help with the push of a button on mobile badges powered by the CENTEGIX™ CrisisAlert™ system. The demonstration will include both the staff alert and campus-wide lockdown capabilities of CrisisAlert™.

WHEN: Monday, February 1, 2021. 5:00 p.m.

WHERE: J.D. Parker Elementary School - 1010 East 10th Street, Stuart, FL 34996

WHY: Families, school district staff, school boards, superintendents and law enforcement all recognize school emergency preparedness as one of today’s most critical issues. Medical emergencies, suspicious activity and similar situations are becoming increasingly common in schools throughout the nation. In critical moments, simplicity and speed are crucial to an effective response. CrisisAlert™ empowers school district employees to call for and direct help where it is needed — easily and quickly — because in a crisis, every second matters.

HOW: To RSVP for the live demonstration, please email Jennifer DeShazo or call (772) 219-1200 ext. 30368.

Tykes & Teens Hosting Free Virtual Seminar for Middle School Parents

19 Nov Tykes & Teens Logo

“Don’t Push My Buttons; I’m Not an Elevator” Taking Place Mon., Jan. 25 at 5:30 pm

Palm City – Middle school years are a challenging time for tweens and even more so during this year’s COVID-19 environment. As part of its “Mapping the Middle” program, Tykes & Teens is hosting the next in its series of free virtual seminars to help parents of middle school age students navigate through a variety of timely issues today’s tweens are facing.

Longtime therapist and Tykes & Teens’ Director of School-Based Services Andrea Greenlee, LCSW will dive into the psychology behind parenting a teen or tween and teach you what to do and not to do in an effort to maintain household peace and wellness.

The seminar is free to parents via Zoom, but registration is required by emailing agnieszka@tykesandteens.org. Once registered, you will receive instructions and links to join this virtual seminar.

“Mapping the Middle” seminars are an annual event for parents by Tykes & Teens, sponsored by Children’s Services Council of Martin County and C.O.R.E.

Andrea Greenlee earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Vanderbilt University and her Master of Social Work from Florida State University. She has been a Licensed Clinical Social worker since 2000. She began her career with Tykes & Teens over 20 years ago as one of the first therapists hired by the agency. Today, as the agency’s Director of School-Based Services, she oversees the care Tykes & Teens provides for clients in more than 30 elementary, middle and high schools located in Martin, Okeechobee and Indian River counties. Andrea is passionate in her love for children and her yearning for their emotional well-being. When she was in middle school, Oprah Winfrey discussed the book “There Are No Children Here,” a touching story about two brothers who lived in the projects in Chicago and faced the daily scourge of violence, drugs and trauma. This book touched her heart, and she knew, “I want to make a difference in the lives of kids like this.” And a difference she has made indeed!

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Calling all Middle School Teachers!

Click photo above to view form

Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast is excited to announce JA Inspire presented by the Frederick A. Deluca Foundation! JA Inspire is a FREE virtual career exploration program in which students can interact with local companies and gain valuable insight into their future career goals!

Who: ALL middle school students!
What: JA Inspire offers students the opportunity to learn about careers from local professionals. The program can help students plan their high school coursework through a series of 3 in-class sessions followed by a virtual career exploration fair!
When: The program is flexible! Teachers and students can access the digital career fair anytime between February 12th and June 18th. The teacher-led pre-work (three 30 minute sessions) can be completed anytime prior to students attending the virtual career fair.
Where: Online via Google Sites and the VFairs platform. The Google Site is easily streamlined with Google Classroom.
Why: This is a GREAT opportunity to have students explore careers and local industries with support of JAPBTC and their 100+ years of experience in the work readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship field.

JA Inspire also satisfies the middle school workforce education requirement for 8th grade students!

To participate, teachers should fill out this form and the programs team will contact them to add them to the Google Site to get started! The first 200 teachers will be given a $50 Amazon gift card after the completion of the program as a token of our appreciation, so act fast! JA loves our teachers!

We look forward to working with you and your students! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

St. Lucie Public Schools Graduation Rates Continue to Improve

St Lucie Public Schools Logo

Article by: Lydia Martin
St. Lucie Public Schools Graduation Rates Continue to Improve

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FL – St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) earned a graduation rate of 93.2% while the six traditional high schools boasted a rate of 98% for the 2019-2020 school year. These rates exceed the state average of 90%. This is the 4th consecutive year that the graduation rate for SLPS is above 90%. SLPS improved its state ranking to 10th in the state out of 67 districts.

Furthermore, St. Lucie Public Schools continues to close the achievement gap as demonstrated by improvement in the graduation rate of Black, Hispanic, and Exceptional Education students. The graduation rate for Black students improved from 85.7% to 92.5%; Hispanic students improved from 92.4% to 94%; Exceptional Education Students improved their graduation rate from 88.3% to 91.6%. Moreover, all subgroups continue to rank among the highest in the state.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment as our trend continues to increase for all students. I commend our students, teachers, administrators, and staff. All demographic groups continue to perform at very high levels and our students are graduating from high school prepared to enroll in college or directly enter the workforce due to our strong career and technical programs as evidenced by the robust number of industry certifications earned by our students,” said Superintendent Gent.

St. Lucie Public Schools Names the 2020-2021 Distinguished Minority Educator Award Finalists

St Lucie Public Schools Logo

St. Lucie County – Today, Superintendent E. Wayne Gent, accompanied by School Board Chairman Debbie Hawley, School Board Vice Chairman Dr. Donna Mills, Board Member Jennifer Richardson, Board Member Jack Kelly, Leslie Kristof from Keiser University and the Education Foundation, and Assistant to the Superintendent Dr. Kevin Perry, paid surprise visits to this year’s finalists for the Distinguished Minority Educator Award (DMEA). Mildred Brown, a Criminal Justice Teacher at Ft. Pierce Westwood Academy; Sophia Scott, a third-grade teacher at Allapattah Flats K8 School; and Erika Baculima, a Speech Language Pathologist at Mariposa Elementary School are the finalists who have the distinction of representing the School District at this year’s Night of the Stars event.

“The DMEA finalists represent the best of our talented and committed minority educators. All of the nominees and the finalists have made a visible and positive difference in the lives of students and adults, inspiring and motivating them to make an impact on their school and the community,” said Superintendent E. Wayne Gent.

The goal of the Distinguished Minority Educator Award program in St. Lucie Public Schools is to recognize an outstanding minority educator who has made or is making a significant contribution to education and who can serve as a role model for other educators and young people who may choose education as a career. One individual will be selected as the St. Lucie Public Schools Distinguished Minority Educator Award recipient during the Night of the Stars event scheduled for February 6, 2021.

Mildred Brown, Fort Pierce Westwood Academy

21 Jan Brown

Prior to becoming a teacher, Ms. Brown was the first black female SLC Sheriff’s Deputy in 1993 where she served until 2012. She then went to Westwood to start the Criminal Justice Industry Certification program which has recently expanded to include the 911 Operator Program. Mrs. Brown is recognized as a “teacher leader” because she is an educator that has experience working with students who come from poverty. Furthermore, she serves as a caring adult that taps into students’ strengths and supports their path to success. She was recently appointed as the Career and Technical Education Department Chair overseeing 13 teachers. Included in this role is monitoring the progress that all students across the school are making with their industry certifications. Mrs. Brown embodies the mission of St. Lucie Public Schools as she helps to ensure that all students graduate equipped with the skills, knowledge and desire to succeed.

Sophia Scott, Allapattah Flats K8

21 Jan Scott

Sophia Scott is “one of a kind.” She has a great sense of humor that pairs well with her competitive nature. She is known around the school for engaging students and developing relationships with them and their families. She has a reputation for embracing diversity and bringing out the talents of every student regardless of their background, ethnicity, discipline history or disability. Ms. Scott is a strong teacher with great knowledge of the curriculum. Her class usually wins school-wide challenges like Reading Counts, iReady and Unit Assessments. Her students want to succeed because they are inspired by her positivity and hope that she displays every day.

Erika Baculima, Mariposa Elementary

Baculima

Mrs. Baculima is a standout among her peers. She is extremely committed to her job and displays a genuine concern for her students. She works collaboratively with members of her ESE team and has a tremendous and positive impact on the teachers and the entire department. Her efforts have increased the confidence and success of her students, including the ESOL population. Many of the ESOL students at Mariposa receive Speech and Language services and being bilingual has resulted in exponential growth by her students. More Spanish speaking parents are involved as a result of her efforts because they know Mrs. Baculima will take the time to make them feel comfortable at the school. No matter what the situation is, Mrs. Baculima always makes lemonade out of any lemons that come her way.

District Receives Department of Education Approval for Spring 2021 Education Plan

19 Dec MC School Board Logo

The Martin County School District has received approval from the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) for its Spring 2021 Education Plan. A continuation of the District’s 2020-2021 Reopening Plan that was approved by FLDOE in August, the plan places emphasis on targeted intervention for struggling students, opportunities for increased communication and engagement with families, and encouragement for parents/guardians to select traditional (in-person) learning for their children when possible.

"We know that the majority of students perform best when they are physically present in classrooms and receiving instruction from highly-qualified teachers," Superintendent John D. Millay said. “The District will follow the requirements issued by the Florida Department of Education, offering targeted intervention and support to students who are struggling to make adequate progress. We remain committed to partnering with our families to ensure that every child is learning, demonstrating growth and achieving success."

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District Outperforms State, High Schools See Increase In Graduation Rate

19 Dec MC School Board Logo

The Martin County School District earned a graduation rate of 90.2% during the 2019-2020 school year according to data released on January 7, 2021, by the Florida Department of Education. The graduation rate for the three traditional, District-operated high schools increased to 95.3% during the same time period, a 1.7 percentage point increase over last year’s rate and a 5.3 percentage point increase above the state’s overall graduation rate of 90%.

Graduation rates are based on students who finish high school "on time," within four years of entering ninth grade. In order to count as graduates, students must obtain a standard high school diploma (18 or 24 credit hours) or be enrolled in an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) program and eligible for graduation but electing to defer receipt of their diploma to return and attend school under FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education).

A standard Florida high school diploma requires a student to earn 18 or 24 prescribed credits, maintain a GPA of at least 2.0, and pass both the Grade 10 Florida Standards Assessment for English Language Arts (or earn a concordant score on an ACT or SAT/be eligible for an ESE assessment waiver) and the Algebra I End-of-Course Exam (or earn a comparative score on an ACT, SAT, PSAT or PERT/be eligible for an ESE assessment waiver). The Florida Standards Assessments that were scheduled to be administered in spring 2020 were canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the Class of 2020 were issued an assessment waiver by the Florida Department of Education, which meant that no seniors graduated with a Certificate of Completion and were instead able to receive a diploma.

“In our mission of educating all students for success, we always begin with the end in mind,” Superintendent John D. Millay shared. “We remain committed to providing each student with the effective instruction and learning opportunities he or she needs to achieve the goal of high school graduation. While we still have work to do to ensure all of our students become graduates, I remain confident that we are headed in the right direction. I am extremely proud of our students, faculty, staff and families for their hard work and commitment to achieving success.”

2019-2020 graduation rates for Martin County schools are as follows:

Clark Advanced Learning Center - 100%

Jensen Beach High School - 95.1%

Martin County High School - 94.5%

South Fork High School - 96.5%

**Graduates who attend an alternative school are included with graduates from their comprehensive high school for the purposes of reporting the graduation rate. **

The Paulie Strong Charitable Foundation Establishes the Paul Lefavi Scholarship Fund at Indian River State College

21 Jan Paulie Strong Photo

Fort Pierce - The Paulie Strong Charitable Foundation, whose mission is to raise funds for Indian River State College (IRSC) Scholarships in the name of Paul Lefavi, collected $10,000 at the inaugural #PaulieStrong Golf Tournament held November 21, 2020. The money established the Paul Lefavi Scholarship Fund at IRSC; an endowed scholarship that will be awarded annually to one student enrolled in the IRSC Digital Media program.

Lefavi, a beloved employee of Indian River State College for more than 20 years, passed away in 2019 due to complications from Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Lefavi served as the College’s Director of E-Learning, providing technological support for faculty, students and courses. He was also an instrumental part of the IRSC 40th, 50th and 60th anniversary productions. The Paulie Strong Charitable Foundation was created by Lefavi’s friends and family to commemorate his passion for creative learning, the digital arts, and for the students of Indian River State College.

“Paul Lefavi came to IRSC as an experienced videographer for the United States Air Force. He demonstrated utmost devotion to his profession, and his one-of-a-kind ‘Paulie’ disposition made you want to be his friend,” remarked colleague and friend Mike Pelitera, Instructional Technology Trainer at IRSC. “He is missed every day, but his legacy will now live on forever.”

The Paul Lefavi Scholarship—available through the IRSC Foundation—is a $500 award presented to a student in the IRSC Digital Media program. The first scholarship will be awarded for the 2021–22 academic year. Students interested in applying can complete the scholarship application process by signing into MyPioneer Portal and selecting the “IRSC Scholarships” box. The application deadline is January 31, 2021.

“We are humbled by the generosity from the family and friends of Paul Lefavi in establishing an endowed scholarship in his honor,” stated Ann Decker, Executive Director of the IRSC Foundation. “What better way to memorialize him than to create a scholarship that serves students pursuing what he loved doing at a place he called his second home.”

To donate to or find out more information about the Paulie Strong Charitable Foundation, visit https://www.paulie-strong.com/. For questions regarding this scholarship, contact Sherri Monds, Scholarship Development Coordinator, in the IRSC Foundation office at 772-462-4786 or visit www.irscfoundation.org.

St. Lucie Public Schools Announces Teacher of the Year Finalists

19 Aug St Lucie Schools Logo

St. Lucie County – Superintendent E. Wayne Gent, accompanied by School Board Chairman Debbie Hawley, School Board Vice Chairman Dr. Donna Mills, Board Member Jennifer Richardson, Board Member Jack Kelly, Assistant to the Superintendent Dr. Kevin Perry, and last year’s Teacher of the Year Melissa Nelson, paid surprise visits to this year’s finalists for Teacher of the Year (TOY). Victoria Pease, a Master Math teacher at St. Lucie Elementary School; Lauren Kappler, a Civics teacher at West Gate K8; and Kristin Lee, a third-grade teacher at Morningside Elementary are the finalists who have the distinction of representing the School District at this year’s Night of the Stars event.

St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) Superintendent E. Wayne Gent said, “Our Teacher of the Year finalists represent what’s best about our team of 2,500 dedicated and committed teachers who change the lives of students every day in St. Lucie County. The impact they are making is evidenced by the School District’s continual academic growth.”

Locally, one of the three finalists will be selected as the SLPS Teacher of the Year during the Night of the Stars event scheduled for February 6, 2021. The winner will then represent SLPS in the Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year Program.

The local Night of the Stars annual event is sponsored by the Education Foundation of St. Lucie County. Thom Jones, president of the Education Foundation, explained that MIDFLORIDA Credit Union is the sponsor of the local Teacher of the Year category. “This is an exciting year. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors we will honor our winners with very special recognitions this year.”

About the Teacher of the Year Finalists

Victoria Pease - St. Lucie Elementary

Pease

Mrs. Pease’s influence and contributions were recognized immediately when she joined the team at St. Lucie Elementary School three years ago. Her instruction and leadership were a substantial contributing factor to the school’s success earning the highest percentage point gain of all the schools in St. Lucie County. It is refreshing to walk into Mrs. Pease’s classroom and see children authentically engaged in the lesson. Her students are turned on to, excited by, and drawn into an academic vortex where questions are being asked and feedback is spontaneous. She often makes home visits to conduct parent conferences or to surprise students and their families with good news and rewards. Victoria Pease is a natural leader who has a knack for offering solutions to any problems that arise in her classroom, on her team, or in her school.

Lauren Kappler, West Gate K8

Kappler

Mrs. Kappler’s kind and caring demeanor are unparalleled. She works diligently to help build students’ confidence and competence. She refuses to let any student fall behind. She is proud of each success and celebrates her students’ growth continuously. Her impact is not only felt by her students, but she has had a tremendous impact on the teachers at her school as well. With the shift to some classes being taught virtually this year, Mrs. Kappler has taken the lead to train the teachers at West Gate on Nearpod. This instructional platform makes virtual lessons extremely engaging for students and the teachers at her school have stated that the new skills that they have learned from her are a “game-changer.” Lauren Kappler’s extraordinary knowledge, skills, and ability to teach effectively make her most deserving of this recognition.

Kristin Lee, Morningside Elementary School

Lee

Mrs. Lee’s heart and soul lies in education. She has a strong knowledge base of differentiation and data tracking that aligns with the schools’ Single School Culture. In her role as a third-grade teacher, she supports her team with breaking down data to create small groups and to identify areas of opportunity for learning gains. Walking into Mrs. Lee’s class, it is evident that students take responsibility for their learning by setting their own goals and tracking their own progress. She has high expectations for her students, and she does not let them “off the hook” but also pays close attention to their social-emotional needs and is able to build relationships with them and their families. Kristin Lee is a kindhearted, passionate teacher who loves her job.

Treasure Coast Food Bank’s Winter Culinary Training Academy Begins Feb. 8

20 Sept TC Food Bank

Fort Pierce - Applications are being accepted for the next session of Treasure Coast Food Bank’s Culinary Training Academy, which begins on Feb. 8. The job training program prepares graduates for careers in the food production industry, one of the fastest-growing industries on the Treasure Coast.

Students learn principles of cooking, but also emerge from the course with an understanding of how to manage a food service operation – including hands-on experience in planning, designing, and executing a menu.

The program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation and aligned with the National Restaurant Association. Each student going through the program may obtain the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Food Protection Manager and the Manage First Nutrition 2.0 certifications as part of the course.

The Culinary Training Academy is now in its fourth year and has positioned numerous adults to take on management positions in food service operations. In December, the most recent cohort of students graduated from the 12-week course.

“Congratulations to all of our newest graduates who walk out of the program with knowledge, credentials, and hands-on experience in food service,” said Judith Cruz, President and CEO of Treasure Coast Food Bank. “We know that some of our graduates moved immediately into better jobs or new careers, and that’s what this program is all about. Food service and hospitality are some of the most in-demand job opportunities on the Treasure Coast, and this program prepares people to run major food operations such as those in catering, banquet halls or hotels.”

Students in the Culinary Training Academy learn principles of cooking, such as how to prepare stocks, soups and sauces, as well as the management end of running a food service operation and meeting customer needs. Each session also includes a hands-on component where students work in a real-world kitchen setting and learn how to plan, design, and execute a menu.

The 12-week course takes place at the Sunshine Kitchen in Fort Pierce. Classes are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Deadline to apply is Feb. 5. more information or to apply, visit visit stophunger.org/culinary.

21 Jan 80 Culinary Students Natasha Morrison and Gustavo Soto

In Photo: Natasha Morrison & Gustavo Soto

21 Jan 81 Culinary Students Austin White and Shanique Jackson

In Photo: Austin White & Shanique Jackson

21 Jan Culinary Training Academy Fall Graduation

In Photo: Culinary Training Academy Fall Graduation

weVENTURE WBC Launches Regional Workdays in Indian River,St. Lucie Counties

21 Jan Florida Tech

Sebastian-based Program Director Amber Batchelor Leads Expansion of Services

Florida - weVENTURE Women’s Business Center (WBC) in the Bisk College of Business at Florida Tech, which offers services and support to entrepreneurs in Brevard, Indian River and St. Lucie counties, will start offering weekly consultation

opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs from locations in Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach.

These regional workdays will allow local entrepreneurs to have in-person or virtual consultations with Program Director Amber Batchelor or a weVENTURE WBC business coach. weVENTURE WBC also plans to begin hosting in-person training for limited

groups of clients in compliance with social distancing guidelines.The Sebastian-based Batchelor, who joined weVENTURE WBC in June 2020, is former president and CEO of the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce. She serves on

the boards of United Way of Indian River County, Sebastian River Medical Center, Vero Beach Wine + Film Festival and the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce and has been named a member of Impact 100 of Indian River County.

Batchelor brings local know-how and a national business resume, including past work at Oracle in Silicon Valley and UPS, to the new regional workdays program. The Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County, 500 NW California Blvd. in Port St.

Lucie, will host Batchelor with office and conference room space during the first and third weeks of every month. COLAB, Vero Beach's downtown work and communitybased office space located at 1150 19th St., will host the workdays on the second and

fourth weeks of the month. “With our headquarters in Brevard County, we believe it is essential that we meet our clients and prospective clients safely where they are, in their own communities,” said

Kathryn Rudloff, executive director of weVENTURE WBC. “We want the business communities across our service region to know we are within reach when they are ready, and this is an example of our commitment to expanding services on the Treasure

Coast in 2021 and beyond.” Peter Tesch, president of the St. Lucie EDC, said he welcomes the services, outreach and passion weVENTURE WBC brings. “We were amazed at the willingness and enthusiasm that weVENTURE WBC displayed

in helping our local businesses hardest hit during the pandemic,” he said. “It is our great pleasure to collaborate with these resourceful business experts in their upcoming educational and technical assistance series. The EDC applauds their efforts to support

the growth and prosperity of women-, minority- and veteran-owned enterprises.” weVENTURE WBC is a program of Florida Tech’s Bisk College of Business. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration

and is focused on providing technical assistance, business education and entrepreneurial training to women interested in launching a new venture or growing their existing businesses. The public is invited to schedule a free business consultation session with Batchelor or

business coach Jeannette Kraar by calling 321-674-7007 or emailing weventure@fit.edu.

Clark Advanced Learning Center’s Barry Bicksler Named Finalist for Martin County Teacher of the Year

Clark headshots and group shots
photographed on Thursday, August 9, 2018, at the Clark Advanced Learning Center in Stuart.

Stuart — Clark Advanced Learning Center math and science instructor, Barry Bicksler, is one of 20 teachers labeled “best of the best” vying for Martin County Teacher of the Year. Bicksler was selected by his peers for this outstanding recognition, which is presented by the Education Foundation of Martin County in cooperation with the Martin County School District in an effort to recognize outstanding teaching.

“Mr. Bicksler is an exemplar of how Clark instructors go above and beyond for their students,” says Clark’s Principal Debra Kohouth. ”This is a great honor for any teacher in K-12, and Mr. Bicksler is certainly deserving. His approach to teaching math and physics classes and his dedication to student success are exceptional and unwavering!”

Bicksler is in his ninth year of teaching at the Clark, IRSC's charter high school in Stuart, Florida. He teaches both high school and Dual Enrollment college-level courses.

To determine the Martin County Teacher of the Year, the Education Foundation is soliciting votes through January 20 at https://www.educationfoundationmc.org/p/327/place-your-vote#.X_22KehKg2w. The winner, revealed during the Foundation’s Martin County Teacher of the Year Celebration, will represent the Martin County School District in the competition to become the Florida Department of Education's Teacher of the Year.

St. Lucie Public Schools Names the 2020-2021 Outstanding First Year Teacher Finalists

St Lucie Public Schools Logo

St. Lucie – Today, Superintendent E. Wayne Gent accompanied by School Board Chairman Debbie Hawley, Board Member Jennifer Richardson, Board Member Jack Kelly, Thom Jones from the Education Foundation, and Dr. Kevin Perry, Assistant to the Superintendent, paid surprise visits to this year’s finalists for Outstanding First Year Teacher (OFYT). Tyler Evans, a Music Teacher at Mariposa Elementary School; Jewel Edwards, a U.S. History Teacher at Creative Arts of St. Lucie; and Alyssa Fairbrother, an English Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher at Rivers Edge Elementary School are the finalists who have the distinction of representing the School District at this year’s Night of the Stars event. Two of the finalists, Tyler Evans and Jewell Edwards, are graduates of St. Lucie Public Schools and were a part of the “A Promise is a Promise” program. The program was established to recognize future educators and provide them with guaranteed employment upon successful completion of a college degree that leads to teach
er certification.

“The OFYT finalists represent the best of our talented and committed rookie teachers. Embarking on a teaching career under the most ideal conditions can be a challenge, however, these teachers have taken on this challenge during an unprecedented year and flourished. I appreciate their hard work and dedication to our students,” said Superintendent E. Wayne Gent.

The Outstanding First Year Teacher is a program in St. Lucie Public Schools where first-year teachers are recognized who demonstrate a superior ability to foster excellence in education and contribute to the continuous improvement of student learning and the school environment. One individual will be selected as St. Lucie Public Schools Outstanding First Year Teacher during the Night of the Stars event scheduled for February 6, 2021.

Tyler Evans, Mariposa Elementary School

21 Jan Evans

Even though Mr. Evans is a new teacher, there is no hesitation on his part to jump in and share his ideas with colleagues. His excitement and passion for music make him a standout teacher and a quick favorite among the students at Mariposa. Students love attending his music class because they never know what is in store for them. Whether it is learning a new song or getting to play a unique instrument, the students are always looking forward to their music class with Mr. Evans.

Jewel Edwards, Creative Arts Academy of St. Lucie

21 Jan Edwards

When you walk into Ms. Edward’s classroom you can feel the excitement and warmth of Ms. Edward’s teaching style. She may be a first-year teacher; however, her leadership qualities are clearly evident. She is a strong contributor to her Social Studies team and the school as a whole. She not only makes an impact in the classroom, her volunteer work in the community does not go unnoticed. In her spare time, she prepares food bags for the homeless, registers people to vote, and is involved in many community events.

Alyssa Fairbrother, Rivers Edge Elementary School

21 Jan Fairbrother

Mrs. Fairbrother’s classroom is engaging and interactive. She employs a variety of teaching and learning strategies to increase engagement and maintain a positive environment. Through the seamless integration of technology, Mrs. Fairbrother is able to provide learning centers that are both rigorous and challenging but fun ensuring her students are being pushed to reach higher levels of achievement.

Martin County School District Announces Enrollment Periods For  Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) And Head Start Programs

19 Dec MC School Board Logo

The Martin County School District's Head Start and Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten programs will begin accepting applications for the 2021-2022 school year in February.

Head Start

• Head Start helps prepare 3 and 4-year-olds for kindergarten

• The program encourages parents to become partners in education as their child’s first and most important teacher

• Head Start helps with education, health, nutrition, social skills, and other services

• Breakfast and lunch are included

• Registration begins February 1, 2021

• The school year begins August 11, 2021

Beginning February 1, 2021, parents may apply for the Head Start Program online by visiting the Preschool & Head Start Department's website. In-person applications will also be accepted by appointment only.

Parents should contact the site nearest them to schedule an in-person appointment:

Perkins Early Childhood Center
16868 SW Palm Beach Street
Indiantown, FL 34956
(772) 597-2645 ext. 46112 or 46105

Salerno School House
3940 SE Salerno Road
Stuart, FL 34997
(772) 219-1893 ext. 44110

Stuart Learning Center
1050 SE 10th Street
Stuart, FL 34994
(772) 219-1580 ext. 43182

Salerno Learning Center
3400 SE Lionel Terrace
Stuart, FL 34997
(772) 219-1620 ext. 38257 or 38256

VPK
The District's Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program (VPK) will begin accepting applications for the 2020-2021 school year on February 2, 2021. The program is available at select schools with limited enrollment.

VPK is an early learning program that provides developmentally appropriate instruction and activities to prepare children for kindergarten and beyond by building a solid foundation for school success. To be eligible, students must be four years of age on or before September 1 of the school year in which they attend VPK and must reside within an eligible home school zone.

The three-hour VPK program is provided at no cost to parents and the full school day program is available for a monthly cost of $234.00* (*subject to change).

Parents will be able to apply for a seat in the District’s 2021-2022 VPK Program during Open Enrollment. Open Enrollment will take place in two phases beginning February 2, 2021 at 8:00 am. Open Enrollment will be completed online using the links below.

For Bessey Creek, Citrus Grove, Crystal Lake, Felix A. Williams, Hobe Sound, Jensen Beach and Palm City elementary schools, the link below will be open for responses on February 2, 2021, at 8:00 am:
https://goo.gl/forms/EMIVS5T6a5KpVwUK2

For J.D. Parker Elementary School, Salerno Learning Center and Warfield Elementary School, the link below will be open for responses on February 9, 2021, at 8:00 am:
https://goo.gl/forms/LGgsOKy5AgS2h4lo2

Martin County's Teacher of the Year Awards Program

education foundation
21 Jan MC High FLyer
21 Jan MS Flyer
21 Jan Elem Teacher flyer

For as little as $250, you can help make our phenomenal teachers feel honored and appreciated through the Education Foundation of Martin County Teacher of the Year program.

The Education Foundation of Martin County's Teacher of the Year Awards Program is designed to celebrate each of the nominees for their unique contributions to the classroom, their students, and our community. This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, the celebration event has been postponed until May 28. The winners will be announced prior to that time to allow the districtwide winner time to submit their application to the state as they vie for the Florida Teacher of the Year title.

Your support will allow us to continue recognizing and celebrating our amazing teachers throughout this unprecedented school year. Our teachers need our support more than ever.
Questions?

Please email Lisa Rhodes at LRhodes@EducationFoundationMC.org or call the foundation office at 772.600.8062.

Sponsorship Information
Thank you for your consideration.

St. Lucie Public Schools Spring 2021 Education Plan Receives DOE Approval

St Lucie Public Schools Logo

St Lucie County – St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) recently received approval for its Spring 2021 Education Plan from the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE). The plan focuses on the continuation of the District’s 2020-2021 Reopening Plan that was approved by the FLDOE at the start of the school year. Specifically, the Spring Plan focuses on four areas; Interventions, Communication to Targeted MySchool Online Students, Enhanced Outreach, and Professional Development.

Interventions

St. Lucie Public Schools will focus on closing achievement gaps, especially those expanded due to the 2020 spring virtual instruction, and for students who fell behind. After School and Summer School programs will be provided to target and remediate skills or gaps created by the interruption of face-to-face instruction. Furthermore, students needing remediation will be closely monitored to ensure that they are getting the needed support in reading and/or mathematics.

MySchool Online Student Communication

St. Lucie Public Schools will continue to offer MySchool Online, our Innovative Learning Modality. However, personalized contact was made, prior to winter break, to the parents of MySchool Online students who were not making adequate academic progress, notifying them that they must return to the traditional learning modality through a formalized process with standardized notification and a district-wide monitoring plan. Parents who chose not to have their child return to school in-person were required to provide written acknowledgment verifying the receipt of the information and their intent to have their child remain in the innovative learning modality.

Enhanced Outreach

St. Lucie Public Schools has identified vulnerable students who have had limited or no contact with the district and transitioned them to the appropriate learning modality, including students who have yet to appear or enroll for the 2020-21 school year, through a variety of strategies. Furthermore, Student Services staff will maintain their focus on attendance and truancy through their commitment to working collaboratively with the Boys and Girls Club Truancy Project funded by the Children's Services Council. Attendance Advocates from the program work alongside school social workers to conduct outreach to families whose children are exhibiting problems with attendance. These students are targeted through specific school interventions to reduce absenteeism. SLPS has also increased the number of School Social Workers and the frequency of attendance meetings to determine needs.

Professional Development

The Talent Development Department has focused on teacher support in virtual learning since the switch in March of 2020 and that focus will continue throughout the spring of 2021. MySchool Online teachers and traditional teachers continue to collaboratively plan together and follow the same District Scope and Sequence which has allowed students to stay on track with pacing regardless of modality. Training and support for MySchool Online teachers will continue with more advanced training on digital tools as well as targeted support, if needed, including one-on-one support from district Talent Development experts.
Chief Academic Officer Dr. Helen Wild commented, “Our plan focused on identifying MySchool Online students who were not making adequate academic progress and getting them back to in-person learning so that our highly qualified teachers can provide them with the face to face, differentiated support they need to be successful.”

The approved plan can be accessed here: SLPS Spring 2021 Education Plan

St. Lucie Public Schools Graduation Rates Continue to Improve

St Lucie Public Schools Logo

St. Lucie County - St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) earned a graduation rate of 93.2% while the six traditional high schools boasted a rate of 98% for the 2019-2020 school year. These rates exceed the state average of 90%. This is the 4th consecutive year that the graduation rate for SLPS is above 90%. SLPS improved its state ranking to 10th in the state out of 67 districts.

Furthermore, St. Lucie Public Schools continues to close the achievement gap as demonstrated by improvement in the graduation rate of Black, Hispanic, and Exceptional Education students. The graduation rate for Black students improved from 85.7% to 92.5%; Hispanic students improved from 92.4% to 94%; Exceptional Education Students improved their graduation rate from 88.3% to 91.6%. Moreover, all subgroups continue to rank among the highest in the state.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment as our trend continues to increase for all students. I commend our students, teachers, administrators, and staff. All demographic groups continue to perform at very high levels and our students are graduating from high school prepared to enroll in college or directly enter the workforce due to our strong career and technical programs as evidenced by the robust number of industry certifications earned by our students,” said Superintendent E. Wayne Gent.

Treasure Coast Teachers Benefitting from Free Support from Tykes & Teens

19 Nov Tykes & Teens Logo

Virtual Meetings on Second Tuesday of Each Month at 4:30 pm

Palm City – Teachers across the Treasure Coast are taking advantage of and benefitting from free support provided by Tykes & Teens, a leading mental health provider for children and adolescent evidence-based programs and services for nearly 25 years. TEAMS – Teacher Empowerment And Meaningful Support – is a confidential virtual teacher support group provided the second Tuesday of each month by Tykes & Teens with the support of Children’s Services Council of Martin and St. Lucie Counties. The next TEAMS meeting is Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 4:30 pm.

As children and families are continuing to struggle with increased anxiety and added pressures caused by COVID-19, teachers are on the frontlines adjusting to providing both virtual and in-person education and care for children, while also balancing their own challenges during the current pandemic world.

“We know our teachers are working harder than ever and facing even greater pressures during a pandemic, and we want you to know we are here for you,” says Dorothy Oppenhesier, Tykes & Teens Trauma-Informed Care Coordinator who leads TEAMS. “TEAMS is an excellent opportunity for teachers to have a safe place to share their personal experiences and feelings and receive coping strategies in a confidential space of mutual understanding and support.”

“As a long-time educator and Tykes & Teens’ Trauma-Informed Care Coordinator, Dorothy personally relates to what teachers are going through and provides excellent support and guidance through our TEAMS support group,” says Tykes & Teens Director of Prevention Services Dr. Agnieszka Marshall, Psy.D., CAP.

Teachers participating in the group are encouraging others to take advantage of the TEAMS support group, saying: “TEAMS has been so helpful;” and “I wish more teachers would take advantage of this group.”

Tykes & Teens’ TEAMS virtual group is open to all teachers and meets the second Tuesday of each month at 4:30 pm. To register, email Dr. Agnieszka Marshall at agnieszka@tykesandteens.org. For more information on Tykes & Teens’ Trauma-Informed Care, visit www.tykesandteens.org/trauma-informed-care/.

Dorothy Oppenhesier is Tykes & Teens’ Trauma-Informed Care Coordinator, as well as a long-time school educator and administrator. She provides training in trauma-informed care, motivational interviewing, mindfulness and compassion fatigue. She is an experienced educational consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the education and healthcare management industry, and is skilled in career education, special education, child advocacy, staff development and student counseling. She is a former middle and high school teacher and was also a high school assistant principal and principal. In addition, she has worked with 50 school districts to evaluate and implement comprehensive health education curriculum that included social emotional health. She received her Bachelor of Science, Health Education and Sociology certification in teaching from Western Michigan University and her Graduate in Public Administration with an emphasis in health care from the University of Michigan-Flint. She holds a School
Principal Certification and is a certified Mental Health First Aid Trainer and Michigan Model for Health Trainer.

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Port St. Lucie High School Receives School of Excellence Award

St Lucie Public Schools Logo

St. Lucie – Port St. Lucie High School will receive the inaugural School of Excellence award on behalf of the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) and the American College Application Campaign (ACAC) for their work around the Apply Yourself Florida college application completion campaign. Only one school from each state across the USA is being recognized with this award and Port St. Lucie High School has been nominated and selected as the Florida school to receive this honor.

The School of Excellence award was launched by ACAC to recognize the thousands of schools across the country that are helping students achieve their postsecondary goals. Port St. Lucie High School was nominated for serving as an exemplary model for the Apply Yourself Florida initiative last year, and the partnership with Indian River State College.

Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Helen Wild stated, "This recognition is special because it honors the hard work of our counselors in ensuring that students have the support needed to navigate the college application process. Port St. Lucie High has done a fantastic job in following up with students beyond the event, especially for first-generation college students. Our schools have been doing a big push in helping students plan for their future as our graduation rates have skyrocketed."

The goal of ACAC and Apply Yourself Florida is to increase the number of first-generation students and students from low-income families who pursue postsecondary education by assisting high school seniors as they navigate the college admissions process, ensuring each participating student submits at least one college application.

Out2News.com LLC. is a photo journal featuring people, “Who they are, what they do and where they do it”.

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St. Lucie Public Schools Increases Starting Teacher Salary to $44,600 and all Employees Will Receive a Minimum 2% Raise

20 Oct Edu SLS Press Release

St. Lucie County – District and Union Leaders successfully completed salary compensation negotiations for the 2020-2021 school year. The starting teacher salary in St. Lucie Public Schools will increase from $38,375 to $44,600.

Teachers making under $44,600 will receive an increase to get to that minimum amount. In addition, teachers making more than $44,600 will receive a 2% increase on their current base salary. Superintendent Gent said, “We are pleased to be able to reward our employees during these difficult financial times when we know the work is more challenging than ever. We are committed to recruiting and retaining the very best teachers for our students.”

Through Florida House Bill 641, a new Teacher Salary Increase Allocation provides funding to increase starting teacher salaries and includes restrictions on how the money is used, with the bulk of it aimed at increasing classroom teacher’s starting salary. Each district receives an allocation aimed at getting the starting salary as close as possible to $47,500. However, no funds are provided to increase salaries for more experienced teachers.
Education Association of St. Lucie Union President David Freeland stated, “Although the statute has caused concerns with experienced teachers statewide, this agreement has attempted to address it and ensure that all teachers receive a raise during these challenging times. We have worked hard with the district to address at least some of the inequity in the Governor’s plan. During these uncertain financial times, we are pleased to be able to negotiate an overall 2% raise for our Classified and Protech units.”

Despite a challenging revenue picture, this agreement has been possible due to the Board’s proactive budgeting plan. The Teacher Salary Increase Allocation Plan will be sent to the Department of Education for approval which will determine the timeline for implementing the increases.

Hobe Sound Early Learning Center Builds Capacity through Collaboration with the Hobe Sound Community Chest “Strong Start Initiative”

20 Oct HS Community Chess Logo

Article by: Louise Murtaugh, APR

Hobe Sound – Hobe Sound Early Learning Center Board President, Rob Kloska was honored to announce the expansion of the Hobe Sound Early Learning Center’s capacity to enroll more young children through the foresight and generosity of the Hobe Sound Community Chest’s “Strong Start Initiative”.

After determining a significant number of young children are not benefiting from early childhood education, the Hobe Sound Community Chest launched their “Strong Start Initiative” with the goal of providing children in need, birth to four, access to early learning opportunities. In partnership with the Hobe Sound Community Chest, the Hobe Sound Early Learning Center has undertaken a transformational phased strategic initiative to enroll more children through capacity building efforts.

“Children will be left behind if they not engaged in learning opportunities by the time they reach 1st grade,” stated Mary King, Executive Director of the Hobe Sound

Early Learning Center. “Early learning is the foundation for all children, so they become successful in school and in life”.

These classrooms are a gift from the Hobe Sound Community Chest and made possible by the bequest of Joan Dillon Hay Madeira. The new building was constructed to add two more spacious classrooms to educate more children. Additionally, the modular has space for the Small Group Instruction program, therapies and a workspace for the teachers. Hobe Sound Community Chest “Strong Start Initiative” will provide funding for scholarships for families who qualify and are 200% Florida Poverty Level so their children will be prepared for Kindergarten and academic success.

The Hobe Sound Community Chest philanthropy has helped the Hobe Sound Early Learning Center for many years and continues to provide the community with needed programs and services.

The modular classroom was recently “christened” by many happy youngsters who are thoroughly enjoying their new spacious rooms.

Hobe Sound Early Learning Center provides early education, nurturing and nutritious meals to children ages 1 -5 and is a Voluntary Pre-K provider. HSELC incorporates Small Group Instruction into its curriculum to provide children 3 - 5

years of age that are struggling in specific skills to gain additional educational time in these areas. This program is a key to our success in graduating Kindergarten ready students.

Founded in 1962, the Center now has the capacity to enroll up to 160 children. The center provides full-day programs in its child-friendly Center in Hobe Sound, FL. The Center provides families, regardless of income, an affordable early-education program incorporating nurturing, education, and recreation to stimulate their children’s healthy emotional and social development and help them excel in school and life. Our vision is for children to realize their full potential in an impactful high-quality, high yield early learning environment.

Outside new classroom 1 a

In Photo: Hobe Sound Early Learning Center students at the entrance to the new classroom, thanking Hobe Sound Community Chest

Photo Caption 2 - Children in Classoom a

In Photo: The Explorers in the new modular classroom, thanking Hobe Sound Community Chest.

Should You Pay Off Student Loans Early or Save More for Retirement?

20 Oct Students Loan

For adults with student debt and extra money on hand, deciding whether to pay off student loans early or put those funds toward retirement can be tricky. It's a financial tug-of-war between digging out from debt today and saving for the future, both of which are very important goals. This decision is relevant today considering that roughly 65% of college graduates in the class of 2018 had student debt, with an average debt of $29,200.1 This amount equates to a monthly payment of $295, based on a 4% interest rate and standard 10-year repayment term.

Let's assume you have a $300 monthly student loan obligation. You have to pay it each month — that's non-negotiable. But if you have extra money available, what's the better course: pay more toward your student loans each month to pay them off faster or contribute extra funds to your retirement? The answer comes down to optimizing how those dollars can be put to work for you.

The first question to consider is whether you are taking full advantage of any 401(k) match offered by your employer. For example, let's say your employer matches one dollar for every dollar you save in your 401(k), up to 6% of your pay. If you make $50,000 a year, 6% of your pay is $3,000. So by contributing $3,000 per year to your 401(k), or $250 per month, you will get the full employer match of $3,000. That's a 100% return on your investment.

If you are already contributing enough to get the full match, next compare the interest rate on your debt to the rate of return you could be earning on any extra funds you invest. When you make extra payments on a specific debt, you are essentially earning a rate of return equal to the interest rate on that debt. In the student loan example, the interest rate is 4%, so by applying extra money toward that debt you are "earning" a 4% return. If you think you can earn a higher rate of return by investing extra money in your retirement account, then those funds might best be put to work for you there.

Of course, no one can predict their expected rate of return with certainty. But generally speaking, if the interest rate on your debt is relatively low, the potential long-term returns you might earn in your retirement account could outweigh the benefits of shaving a year or two off your student loans. If you have time on your side when saving for retirement, the long-term growth potential of even small amounts can make contributing to your retirement account a smart financial move.Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax planning or legal advice. We suggest that you consult with a qualified tax or legal professional.

LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Out2News. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion, and are not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

20 Oct Landerwiek Logo

St. Lucie Public Schools Awarded the STOP School Violence Grant for $496,311

St Lucie Public Schools Logo

St. Lucie County – St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) was just awarded the STOP School Violence grant in the full amount requested, $496,311. This coveted Grant Award, follows other recently obtained, large dollar federal grants. This time, the grant award will fund the Helping Every Adolescent Recover from Trauma Project (The H.E.A.R.T. Project). This project is a unique approach to providing a trauma-responsive environment in two alternative education settings serving students who have experienced trauma as a result of either witnessing or being a victim of violence, requiring an alternative school setting.

The program will be fully funded through a grant from the United States Department of Justice in the amount of $496,311 over a three-year period. The H.E.A.R.T. Project will provide intensive support to students through six cognitive behavioral techniques to regulate emotions, react to trauma in a healthy manner, and learn social problem-solving skills to prevent future acts of violence against themselves and others.

Separately, students identified as having witnessed or been a victim of sexual violence will have an opportunity to engage in an intensive 16-week therapeutic program to help them move beyond the specific effects of sexual trauma. Additionally, parents will receive training to ensure they are able to support their children outside of the school environment.

The district expects the project to decrease the rate of student violence both in the school environment and in the surrounding community since students with the highest needs, and who are at the greatest risk for being a victim or perpetrator of violence, will receive the support they need and deserve.

Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Helen Wild noted, “We are so pleased to receive this recognition and funding for the HEART Project to provide these much needed services to our students and families in crisis. It is a true collaboration between District Departments and an endorsement of their quality work on behalf of the community.”

FIFTEEN SCHOOLS EARN FLPBIS MODEL SCHOOL DESIGNATION

19 Dec MC School Board Logo

Time to celebrate! Fifteen Martin County School District-operated schools have been recognized for their work in implementing a school-wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) framework. PBIS is a set of strategies based in behavioral and biomedical science that enhance students' quality of life while also reducing problem behaviors. National research shows that full implementation of this framework leads to improved student outcomes.

By establishing this framework, schools are developing student skills, making changes to the learning environment, acknowledging appropriate student behavior, and using data to identify needed supports for students.

As a result of this work, the following schools have been recognized by the Florida Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (FLPBIS) Project for achieving PBIS Model School status for the 2019- 2020 school year:

Citrus Grove Elementary School - Gold
Crystal Lake Elementary School - Gold
Dr. David L. Anderson Middle School - Gold
Jensen Beach High School - Gold
Palm City Elementary School - Gold
Port Salerno Elementary School - Gold
Riverbend Academy - Gold
Stuart Middle School - Gold
Bessey Creek Elementary School - Bronze
Hidden Oaks Middle School - Bronze
Indiantown Middle School - Bronze
J.D. Parker Elementary School - Bronze
Martin County High School - Bronze
Pinewood Elementary School - Bronze
Warfield Elementary School - Bronze

OUTSTANDING SENIORS SELECTED AS DISTRICT'S NOMINEES FOR U.S. PRESIDENTIAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM

19 Dec MC School Board Logo

Established in 1964, the United States Presidential Scholars Program was established for the purpose of recognizing and honoring our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. Each year, up to 161 American students receive this prestigious honor for their academic achievements, talents in the visual, creative or performing arts, or abilities and accomplishments in career and technical education (CTE) fields.

The Martin County School District’s selection committee received many outstanding recommendations this year, making the task of narrowing down nominees to just two exemplary students quite difficult. After careful deliberation, Gigi Copeland of Jensen Beach High School (JBHS) and Spencer Hackler of South Fork High School (SFHS) were selected to represent Martin County in this year’s competition. Both students excel inside and outside of the classroom, serving as leaders in their schools and in our community.

Gigi Copeland (Academic Award Nominee)

“Gigi’s best attribute is her tenacity and positive spirit,” Jennifer Ali, JBHS guidance counselor, wrote in her letter of recommendation. “If she is interested in something or sets a goal, she will do her research and try to fulfill that quest or goal.”

Gigi has a genuine love for learning that extends beyond academic subjects into the world around her. She has attained a weighted GPA of 6.05 and has never scored lower than a 4 on the eight Advanced Placement (AP) exams she has taken thus far. The founder of Jensen Beach High School’s chapter of TASSEL (Teaching and Sharing Skills to Enrich Lives), Gigi has spent countless hours teaching English to elementary school students in rural Cambodia via video calls. While many students use the summer months to relax and unwind after the school year, Gigi spends her summers honing her skills. Prior to her sophomore year, she attended the Startalk Language Camp for Chinese at Arizona State University, where she participated in immersive Chinese language classes, cultural activities and presentations. Before beginning her junior year, she attended the AMP Global Scholar Camp, where she visited embassies and cultural centers in her quest to learn more about international relations and social justice. She is an active member of Jensen Beach High School’s chapter of the National Honor Society, Chinese Club/Chinese Honor Society, Debate Club and Art Club/Art Honor Society. She has earned the Florida Gold Seal of Biliteracy and also volunteers through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

“Gigi was one of my rare students to reach out during the summer before her freshman year to discuss if she was making the right decisions about her courses,” Ms. Ali said. “She wanted to make sure they were appropriate for the trajectory she had in mind, but she also wanted to make sure she would enjoy them. She has maintained that same level of intrigue every year.”

Spencer Hackler (CTE Award Nominee)

Spencer has been a student in South Fork High School’s Academy of Landscape & Turfgrass Management for four years. “In that time, he has learned to correctly identify more than 250 plants, become a Florida Certified Horticulture Professional and competed in a collegiate-level sports turf quiz bowl,” Academy instructor Wendy Schepman wrote in her letter of recommendation.

Spencer achieves his goals while diligently working to develop and display positive character. A member of the Boy Scouts of America’s local Troop 774 since the first grade, he earned the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout in September of this year. He has earned the rank of Cadet First Sergeant as a member of South Fork’s JROTC program, where he enjoys participating in physical activities that require him to exhibit exemplary teamwork and leadership skills. Academically, Spencer maintains a 3.02 GPA and is dual-enrolled at Indian River State College, where he eagerly takes advantage of all of the turfgrass management courses available to him. In his free time, he continues to prepare for his future as an intern at Lost Tree Club in North Palm Beach.

“My current position requires me to pursue a career in turfgrass science and to have basic experience in golf course maintenance,” Spencer shares. “By successfully completing this internship, I will have the skills and knowledge to transition into a management position either at my current place of employment or at a different course.”

Gigi and Spencer’s names have been provided to the Florida Department of Education for consideration as state-level nominees for the award. If chosen to move forward in the competition, their applications will be sent to the national program in January 2021. Presidential Scholars will be announced at the beginning of May 2021. For more information about the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, please click here.

Become a Substitute Teacher!

20 Oct Become a Subs teacher

Article by: Lydia Martin

St. Lucie Public Schools has opportunities for qualified candidates to join our substitute teaching team. Interested candidates will hold a minimum of an Associate’s Degree or 60 college credits and must agree to work at least two days per month.

· Substitute teachers in Long Term Assignments (21 days or more) earn $100.00 per day.

· Substitute teachers in our Critical Needs sites earn $90.00 per day for day to day substituting.

· Our substitute teachers earn a base rate of $71.00 per day and receive a rate increase to $90.00 per day after meeting our frequency requirements.

We value our substitute teachers and provide free tutorials and guidance to those individuals who wish to pursue teaching as a career.

Process for Becoming a Substitute
To apply as a Substitute, click the here: https://business.stlucie.k12.fl.us/scripts/wsisa.dll/WService=wsFin/rapplmnu03.w
Once you have submitted your completed application, it will be processed by the Human Resources Department.
Once you have been hired, you will receive an email with instructions to schedule and pay for your photo ID badge, fingerprint and drug screen appointments. A link will be included for you to schedule your appointment to complete your on-boarding packet in the Human Resources Department.
Upon completion of the steps above, you will be contacted by the department of which you applied, and they will assign you accordingly.

SLPS Comprehensive Mental Health Plan Receives DOE Approval

St Lucie Public Schools Logo

The 2020-2021 Comprehensive Mental Health Plan submitted by SLPS recently obtained approval from the Florida Department of Education.

This plan provides a comprehensive overview of an established infrastructure designed to address the mental, social and emotional, and behavioral needs of all children.

Included in the plan is a synopsis of the many existing programs and services currently available in SLPS, as well as plans for the district’s expansion of services

utilizing the Mental Health Services Allocation and the dollars generated through the passage of the voter referendum in St. Lucie County which provides additional dollars to support mental health.

20 Oct 2 St Lucie

Establishing these guiding principles allows SLPS to maintain a systematic process to meet the many needs of our students through access to mental health services and to provide timely feedback to our families and community partners. Based in a multi-tiered system of supports, our infrastructure includes a continuum of services that meets the needs of all students.

The Mental Health Services Allocation and the dollars from the district voter referendum have allowed SLPS to expand the services we provide. This expansion of services allows us to offer a more immediate response to the students and families we serve. An intentional focus on the social and emotional well-being of all children will result in increased student achievement, increased attendance and engagement in school, and a reduction in negative outcomes for students such as poor attendance, out-of-school suspension and office discipline referrals.

Congratulations to Bill Tomlinson, Executive Director of the Exceptional Student Education and Student Services Department and his entire team for a job well done!

For questions about the Comprehensive Mental Health Plan, please contact Heather Clark, Director of Student Services at 429-4521 or Dr. Michelle Gillard, Coordinator of Mental Health at 429-4559.

Our Dollars, Our District: Replacing Jensen Beach and Palm City Elementary Schools

Samuel S. Gaines Academy of Emerging Technologies Selected to Join the 2020- 2021 Incubator Path of the Microsoft Showcase School Program

20 Sept Samuel Gaines Academy logo

St. Lucie County - Samuel S. Gaines Academy of Emerging Technologies was selected by Microsoft to join the 2020–2021 Incubator Path of the Microsoft Showcase School program for their commitment to education transformation to drive student learning outcomes. Led effectively by Principal Keith W. Davis Sr., Samuel S. Gaines Academy of Emerging Technologies provides both inspiration and motivation to all schools to see and experience the future of digital transformation in education.

Samuel S. Gaines Academy of Emerging Technologies joins an exclusive community from around the world, recognized and celebrated for their educational transformation which includes vision and innovation in teaching, learning and assessment, focus on future-ready skills such as computational and critical thinking, creativity and collaboration, using data to support decision-making, and promotion of growth mindset among staff, educators, and students.
“Three years ago, we started our transformation journey by getting all of our teachers trained in Microsoft and STEM content integration. Part of our vision has always been to become a Microsoft Showcase School. The work of transformation is always challenging, however, due to the passion for improvement and dedication of our teachers and staff to a growth mindset, we can embark on the next part of the journey as a Microsoft Incubator School with the same confidence that helped us make history when we became a B school in 2019,” said Principal Davis.
As a school in the Incubator Path of the Showcase School program, Samuel S. Gaines Academy of Emerging Technologies will work closely with Microsoft on a journey to lead innovation in education transformation and communicate an education transformation vision, enabled by technology, to help students excel and develop the skills needed for the future. The journey culminates with the opportunity to earn Microsoft Showcase School status.

“Microsoft Showcase Schools are shining examples of those applying purpose-driven innovation in a variety of ways to build connections, motivate students and to create community in and out of school,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice president, Worldwide Education, Microsoft. “These schools are truly transforming learning and providing more personalized education to students, empowering them to achieve more.”

The global Microsoft Showcase School community comes together as a group to tackle challenges, celebrate successes, share learnings, and try new solutions in a vibrant online community through Microsoft Teams. As schools in the program continue their education transformation journey, they are supported by Microsoft, their partners, and each other through capacity building, transformation guidance, peer learning, amplification opportunities, and early access to research and solutions.