The communities of Sorrento and Tavares will have the opportunity to meet and greet new principals at Sorrento and Tavares elementary schools during events, both hosted on Tuesday, July 29, at 5 p.m.

Brenna Burkhead is the new principal at Sorrento Elementary, located at 24605 Wallick Road. She started working with Lake County Schools in 1988. Her experience includes media specialist at Fruitland Park and Villages elementary schools, assistant principal at Treadway Elementary and assistant principal & principal at Eustis Heights Elementary.

“I look forward to working with the school and community to become a part of the Sorrento Elementary Family,” Burkhead said. “As a product of Lake County Schools, being a part of a local school community is important to me. I know as a team we will make the coming year one of the best yet.”

Durenda McKinney is the new principal at Tavares Elementary, located at 720 E. Clifford St. She began working with Lake County Schools as a kindergarten teacher at the former Skeen Elementary. Her administrative experience includes assistant principal at Fruitland Park Elementary and principal at Leesburg Elementary.

“I am so excited for the opportunity to work with the school and community of Tavares,” McKinney said. “I look forward to being a part of the local school community. I know that by working together, great things are in our future.”

For more information about the meet-and-greet events, call Sorrento Elementary at 352-385-1140 or Tavares Elementary at 352-343-2861.

Join Superintendent of Lake County Schools Dr. Susan Moxley at an open forum on Tuesday, July 29, from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Clermont Community Center, located at 620 W. Montrose St.

During “Innovation Exchange,” Dr. Moxley will share updates and insights regarding Lake County Schools. Participation at the forum is encouraged for business leaders, community members and parents. The forum is an opportunity to exchange ideas, insights and challenges.

“The goals for Innovation Exchange are simple,” said Dr. Moxley. “I want to share what is happening in the schools with parents, families, staff and our entire community. The school district needs to create a sense of connection to the schools for everyone, not just the students and families. We can unite and work together for the betterment of all students and schools.”

Participants are encouraged to visit http://www.lake.k12.fl.us/innovation to suggest a topic for the forum. Some suggested topics for the forum include: changes to state assessments and accountability system; school district’s capital and operating finances; and community & volunteering.

For more information about Innovation Exchange, contact the Superintendent’s Office at 352-253-6515 or email pattonc@lake.k12.fl.us.

Innovation Exchange

Some of Lake County’s top elementary schools in the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) were recognized last month as part of the school district’s STEM School Challenge.

STEM schools“Each year elementary schools participate in Lake County Schools’ STEM School Challenge,” said Kathlene Jarvis, Director of the Curriculum Department for Lake County Schools. “In order to qualify there are several rigorous criteria that schools have to complete.”

Fourteen elementary schools — Astatula Elementary, Cypress Ridge Elementary, Eustis Heights Elementary, Grassy Lake Elementary, Groveland Elementary, Lost Lake Elementary, Round Lake Elementary Conversion Charter, Sawgrass Bay Elementary, Seminole Springs Elementary, Sorrento Elementary, Tavares Elementary, Treadway Elementary, Triangle Elementary and Umatilla Elementary — were recognized at the Lake County School Board meeting on June 23 for earning the distinction of becoming a Lake County Schools’ designated STEM School. To receive the designation of 2013-2014 STEM School, schools were required to complete five STEM-related components:

    • Construct a STEM Professional Learning Community that focuses on STEM implementation.
    • Conduct a STEM related practice team that meets at a minimum once a week to provide enrichment opportunities and prepare the students for the annual STEM Bowl Competition.
    • Participate in the Lake County STEM Bowl.
    • Hold a STEM Family Night with interactive STEM activities and community involvement. Plan and implement a minimum of four problem-based learning experiences in all grade levels

A national initiative to support STEM activities in schools is helping to increase the ability for students to think critically, solve complex problems and, hopefully in the future, drive advancements in science and technology. Lake County students participate in a variety of STEM programs and competitions, such as LEGO Robotics, science fairs, STEM Bowl, Math Counts and Mu Alpha Theta. In addition, a host of Career and Technical Education programs offered at high schools support STEM initiatives.

The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) released preliminary school grades today for the 2013-2014 school year for elementary and middle schools.

Lake County Schools increased its number of “A” rated schools in a year it waves goodbye to much of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) and the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards. A new statewide assessment (AIR) will be administered to students to assess the more rigorous state-approved standards in math, English/language arts (including writing), Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry.

Lake County Schools more than doubled its number of “A” scores from the previous year with Cypress Ridge Elementary maintaining an “A” grade for the 14th consecutive year and Umatilla Elementary earning an “A” for the second consecutive year. Windy Hill Middle, Lost Lake Elementary and Sorrento Elementary all jumped one letter grade to an “A.” It had been four years since Windy Hill Middle School’s last visit to the top.

“This is a great day for Windy Hill Middle School,” said Amy Cockcroft, Principal at Windy Hill Middle School. “The dedication of our teachers and the hard work of our students is a formula for success. It is very exciting to be celebrating with an ‘A’ grade.”

Sorrento Elementary brought its grade up with a focused approach, according to Susan Pegram, former principal at Sorrento Elementary who will begin the 2014-2015 school year at Lost Lake Elementary.

“The beginning of the year we had an action plan that everybody bought into,” Pegram said. “The teachers really worked hard to teaching the standards and the students were diligent in their work. It all just came together for us. I am so proud of the teachers, students and I am thrilled for the Sorrento community because they deserve this.”

The final year of FCAT proved to be challenging for 14 schools with falling letter grades. The FCAT is based on old academic standards, which are being replaced with the new Florida Standards next year. A new statewide assessment and school grading system will also be released by the state to accompany the new standards.

“Transitioning to new Florida Standards in the classroom while evaluating students on old academic standards definitely was challenging for our schools this year,” said Dr. Susan Moxley, Superintendent of Lake County Schools. “I know our diligent work this past year with the new standards is better preparing students and schools for success long term. I commend all our teachers for their hard work and diligence in this transition year. Congratulations to Sorrento Elementary, Windy Hill Middle, Lost Lake Elementary, Eustis Middle and Altoona Charter for increasing their grades.”

Lake County schools earning an “A” or “B” grade include:

  • Altoona Charter School (B)
  • Cypress Ridge Elementary (A)
  • East Ridge Middle (B)
  • Eustis Elementary (B)
  • Eustis Middle (B)
  • Gray Middle (B)
  • Grassy Lake Elementary (B)
  • Lost Lake Elementary (A)
  • Pine Ridge Elementary (B)
  • Sorrento Elementary (A)
  • Umatilla Elementary (A)
  • Villages Elementary (B)
  • Windy Hill Middle (A)

Grades for high schools will be released in the fall as additional components are included in grade calculations. For a complete list of school grades from the Florida Department of Education, log on to http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org.

The Lake County School Board recognized at its meeting last month the District’s nominees for the Florida Department of Education’s (FLDOE) Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership and Outstanding Assistant Principal Achievement Award.

Julie Robinson-Lueallen, Principal at East Ridge High, is the recipient of Lake County Schools’ Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership for 2013-14. Lueallen has been an administrator for Lake County Schools since 1998 serving as an assistant principal at Leesburg High School, assistant principal at Eustis High School, and Principal of Eustis Elementary, Eustis Middle and East Ridge High schools.



During her tenure, Lueallen has received several awards including: the AVID Florida Principal’s Council and a nomination to apply for the Governor’s Panel representing Lake County Schools.

“East Ridge High School was a ‘C’ school when Ms. Lueallen arrived,” said Aurelia Cole, Chief of Administration. “The following year it became a ‘B’ school and has maintained an ‘A’ for the past two years. Under her leadership, the school was recognized by College Board as the 15th fastest growing AP Program in the nation.”

Lueallen said, “Thank you to everybody that has supported me and there are a lot of people in this room that have made me into the woman I am as a principal today. Dr. Moxley, thank you for 24 years ago when I first started working for you and you pointed me in this direction.”

Lora Braucher is the recipient of the Lake County Schools’ 2013-14 Outstanding Assistant Principal Award. She began her career in education in 2000 as a Social Science teacher at South Lake High School. She entered administration in 2005 as an Assistant Principal at Gray Middle School. In 2008 she became the Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction at the newly opened East Ridge Middle School. She has also served in the same capacity at South Lake High and Leesburg High schools. Braucher is very involved in both professional and community activities including: AVID Summer Institute, the ASCD National Conference on Teaching Excellence, the Leesburg Police Department Scholarship Committee, a Trunk or Treat participant and an Operation Shoe Box participant.

“Mrs. Lora Braucher was instrumental in helping East Ridge Middle School achieve its first grade of ‘A’ in 2009, and South Lake High School’s first grade of ‘B’ in the history of the school in 2012,” Cole said.

Braucher said, “It’s easy to be outstanding when you have an outstanding family that supports you. It’s easy to be outstanding when you work with outstanding people every day. For that I am truly blessed that I am able to work at Leesburg High School because there are really outstanding people there, so I am the fortunate one.”

The achievement awards for principals and assistant principals recognize exemplary individuals, who spearhead initiatives to increase student performance, promote safe learning environments and establish partnerships with parents and community members. In honor of their selections, Lueallen and Braucher attended the Commissioner’s Summit, hosted by FLDOE, on Feb. 2 in Orlando.

During the next two weekends a grand transformation is planned for the educational gardens at Sawgrass Bay Elementary.

“I am happy to announce that a Lowe’s Hero Project will ensure that our garden is completed before school is back in session,” said Manuela Motyl, Kindergarten Teacher at Sawgrass Bay Elementary. “Our local Lowe’s store is going above and beyond with this project. In partnership with the Love & Living Hope church and Lowe’s they have committed to a complete overhaul and continuous upkeep.”

The Lowe’s Heroes volunteer program encourages employees to team together, adopt a volunteer project with a local nonprofit organization or K-12 public school, and make a difference in their community. The work from Lowe’s, located at 16905 Cagan Crossing Blvd., is being coordinated by Store Manager Jim Rivera. Pastors Jose and Jackie Gonzales, as well as many church volunteers and school volunteers, are helping to provide needed manpower.

The summer project will be broken into two weekends. This upcoming weekend volunteers will clear out all existing plants and mulch. July 19, Lowe’s and many volunteers will recreate the new walkway and garden complete with a small fountain. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for July 19 from 1 to 1:30 p.m.

“At the end of this amazing project, the school will let some balloons go in memory of a special Sawgrass Bay Elementary teacher Jennifer Wade,” Motyl said. “This garden will be rededicated in her name and the Relay for Life. Special guests will be in attendance.”

Help is needed for planting, donations of sweet treats for the workers or just moral support. If you would like to volunteer for either weekend, email Manuela Motyl at MotylM@lake.k12.fl.us.

Lake County Schools recently recognized its 2013-2014 Elementary and Secondary Literacy Coaches of the Year.

Congratulations to the 2013-2014 Literacy Coaches of the Year for Lake County Schools. Pictured (left to right) are David Christiansen, Chief Academic Officer, Triangle Elementary Principal Kathy Billar, Literacy Coach Whitney Frazier, Literacy Coach Karen Colarossi and Eustis High Principal Nancy Velez.

Congratulations to the 2013-2014 Literacy Coaches of the Year for Lake County Schools. Pictured (left to right) are David Christiansen, Chief Academic Officer, Triangle Elementary Principal Kathy Billar, Literacy Coach Whitney Frazier, Literacy Coach Karen Colarossi and Eustis High Principal Nancy Velez.

Whitney Frazier from Triangle Elementary School and Karen Colarossi from Eustis High School were selected by their peers to represent Lake County Schools as the Elementary and Secondary Literacy Coaches of the Year.

Frazier designs and facilitates professional learning on standards-based instruction, high yield instructional strategies, and data analysis for teachers at Triangle Elementary. Frazier also coaches and mentors teachers and supports her leadership team in building capacity across the school. She assists with the school improvement planning process at her school to ensure literacy across content areas.

“Not only are we recognizing Ms. Frazier as the 2013-2014 Literacy Coach of the Year, her peers have also recognized her as the 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year at Triangle Elementary School,” said Kathlene Jarvis, Director of the Curriculum & Instruction Department at Lake County Schools.

Colarossi works with teachers in Language Arts and Reading departments at Eustis High to implement rigorous curriculum for all students. She utilizes her expertise in Comprehension Instruction Sequence to help teachers with the implementation of Florida Standards into their daily lessons. Additionally, Colarossi is an experienced professional developer and has trained teachers in Coaching and Mentoring, NG-CARPD, and Competency 6 Reading endorsement.

Before joining the Eustis High team, Colarossi was a teacher at Leesburg High School as well as Program Specialist in the Curriculum Department. This is the third Literacy Coach of the Year honor for Colarossi. She was recognized last year and during her tenure at Leesburg High.

“Ms. Kathy Billar [Principal at Triangle Elementary] and Ms. Nancy Velez [Principal at Eustis High] we are proud of your Literacy Coaches and we wish them the best of luck as they represent our district at the state level,” Jarvis said.


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