The Jefferson Awards Foundation, which describes itself as America’s most prestigious and longest standing organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service, honored Eustis High School for its philanthropic work within the community. Students were recognized at the organization’s 2015 National Ceremony in Washington, D.C., and gave a speech regarding their community service and volunteerism.

Eustis High School FazzinoAwards were presented over two days of ceremonies and volunteering in the nation’s capital. Americans with the most impactful philanthropic work of the year will receive National Jefferson Awards. Honorees included celebrities, public service professionals, entrepreneurs, local heroes and corporations all dedicated to public service.

More than 325 high schools across the country participate in the Jefferson Awards Students In Action (SIA) program. Eustis High School was selected as the 2015 Central Florida Recipient, chosen by a panel of judges for best showcasing the program’s goals and for its philanthropic contribution to the community. During the 2014-2105 school year, the Eustis High School SIA team, Panthers in Action, focused their efforts on “Fighting for a Cause.” They aimed to spread awareness, both inside and outside their school, about the importance of service to the community. Their service events included a Chipotle fundraiser for a baby boy born with a rare brain malformation and raising breast cancer awareness alongside supporters from all over Florida at the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure.

Eustis High School 2“This is the second time in the three years that Eustis High School has participated that we were recognized nationwide,’’ said Principal Nancy Velez. “We are very proud of our Panthers in Action.”


This year’s honorees also included high-profile philanthropists such as: the Kid President team, Lauren Bush, Jeff Skoll and the Target Corporation.

“Our mission at the Jefferson Awards Foundation is to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement in public service. A testament to this mission, we are honored to recognize these amazing individuals and organizations for their incredible work in service,” said Hillary Schafer, Executive Director of the Jefferson Awards Foundation. “We continue to believe in, and activate their causes and look forward to making an impact on a national level through our ceremony.”

The National Ceremony kicked off on Wednesday, June 17 in the Oriental Ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C. The National Awards were presented on Thursday, June 18 at the National Ceremony Gala Dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel with Trish Regan, Fox Business news anchor, serving as Mistress of Ceremonies. While in town, the recipients also had the opportunity to meet and be congratulated by their U.S. Senators on Capitol Hill.

About the Jefferson Awards
The Jefferson Awards Foundation (JAF) is the country’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service. Through its programs, JAF trains and empowers individuals to serve and lead in their communities, amplifying their impact through the organizations vast network of media partners, mentors and volunteers. To learn more about the Jefferson Awards Foundation, visit: JeffersonAwards.org or engage on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Food Drive_ wMathias

Concerned about children who may not have enough food to eat now that school is out for the summer, three Lake County students and their family launched a food drive to help. They dropped off their donation this week with the Lake County Schools Student Services Department.

The idea began last year with Sean Miller, an eighth-grade student at Windy Hill Middle School. When he turned 11, instead of receiving gifts at his birthday party he asked guests to bring canned goods and other nonperishable food items. He passed those donations along to his church and to his school for children and families in need. From that point on, it has been his mission to help out as often as he can.

With the help of his sisters, third-grader Michelina Miller and second-grader Rosalie Miller, both students at Astatula Elementary School, Sean collected food donations again before the winter holiday break and now for the summer break. The Howey-in-the-Hills family made it a community event by hosting a cookout and inviting people to drop off food items in exchange for grilled burgers and hot dogs.

“This speaks volumes about the future of our young leaders here in Lake County,’’ said school board member Bill Mathias, who was at Student Services to thank Sean and his family personally.

The food will be distributed by the Families in Transition visiting teams – a school nurse and two social workers who provide outreach to homeless families, some of whom reside temporarily in local motels. During visits to these families, the teams connect them to community health services, academic support, transportation information, community resources, food and other resources.

“We are extremely proud of them,’’ Michelle Miller said of her three children. “They’ve done such a great job and they want to continue.”

Student scores from the 2015 FCAT science exam and end-of-course exams in biology, civics and U.S. history have been released by the Florida Department of Education, and Lake County students showed improvement in many areas.

Across Lake County 51 percent of fifth-grade students achieved proficiency on the FCAT science exam with a Level 3 or higher this year – the same as 2014 when 51 percent achieved proficiency. Several schools saw significant gains on the science test this year. Eustis Heights Elementary improved by 17 percent.

“We are very proud of our teachers and students,’’ said Rhonda Hunt, principal at Eustis Heights Elementary School. “Our success is due to teacher support with new curriculum resources, training and coaching for teachers, and high expectations for student learning.”

Also in Lake County, 68 percent of first-time test takers passed the U.S. History end-of-course exam this year compared to 66 last year, an increase of 2 percentage points. That’s also 2 points higher than the state average of 66 percent at Level 3 or above this year. Among Mount Dora High School students, however, the increase was larger, going from 59 percent at Level 3 or above last year to 74 percent this year. Lake County Virtual School students’ increase was larger still, going from 57 percent at Level 3 or above last year to 85 percent this year.

“These results are due to the dedication and efforts of a great staff in implementing effective online instruction to students,’’ said Michael Elchenko, coordinator for Lake County Virtual School.

Districtwide, the percentage of students earning a Level 3 or higher on the Civics end-of-course exam remained flat; it was at 63 percent last year and was at 63 percent again this year. But at Spring Creek Charter, 71 percent of students scored Level 3 or higher this year compared to 57 percent last year. And at Windy Hill Middle 80 percent scored Level 3 or higher compared to 74 percent last year.

“We are thrilled with the success our students had on the Civics EOC,’’ said Amy Cockcroft, principal at Windy Hill. “The teachers taught real-life lessons that are pertinent to the students’ lives, actively involving them in the civics process. The students learned lessons they will use for the rest of their lives.”

On the Biology I end-of-course exam, 62 percent of students districtwide scored at Level 3 or above this year compared to 70 percent last year – a decrease of 8 points. However, students at East Ridge High saw a 4 point gain, going from 74 percent at Level 3 or higher last year to 78 percent this year.

“This has been a challenging year of testing for Lake County and for all of Florida,’’ said Susan Moxley, superintendent of Lake County Schools. “That makes our students’ gains even more significant. I am very proud of the hard work all of our students and teachers put in, and I am confident they will continue to improve and excel.”

Scores for individual students are expected to be released later this month.

See full state reports here: 2015 Statewide Student Assessments

Scores for all Lake County schools are available at the following links:

2015 Score Summaries – SPRING_Biology EOCs

2015 Score Summaries – SPRING_Civics EOCs

2015 Score Summaries – SPRING_USHistory_EOCs

FCAT 2 0 SCIENCE COMPARISON 14 v 15 6 12 15 (00000002)


Enjoy summer savings and big fun by simply showing a good report card at participating Central Florida establishments such as Chuck E. Cheese, Krispy Kreme, Lake Square Laser Tag, Pizza Hut and many others. Click here to learn more about the offers.

Mascotte 2

Mascotte Elementary Charter School is accepting registrations for its Extended Learning Center (ELC) 2015 Summer Camp, “It’s My Life.” Participants will discover their unique gifts and talents while exploring a variety of industries, career opportunities and specialized training courses, learning which study path will be the best fit for their individual needs and interests.

Additionally, Krista Guerrero, owner/instructor of local business “Intellectual Baby,” will visit weekly to provide instruction on etiquette, culminating in a field trip to a local restaurant where students can practice what they’ve learned.

Camp participants will enjoy several weekly field trips to places such as The Lowry Park Zoo, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Glazer Children’s Museum, LEGOLAND, Wet ‘n Wild, and more, to enhance what they learn.
For more information about the camp, please contact Mrs. Harrison at 352-429-2294 Ext. 5826.

For two years, Lake County Schools (LCS) has been planning and piloting “personalized learning,” a change in how students receive instruction. Now, the piloting phase has ended for five schools and personalized learning will be fully implemented to benefit a larger group of students starting next school year.

With the help of a $2.5 million Next Generations System Initiative grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, personalized learning will be fully launched at Lost Lake Elementary, Sawgrass Bay Elementary, Windy Hill Middle, South Lake High and Umatilla High schools in the 2015-16 school year.

“These schools have found Personalized Learning models that work for them,’’ said Kathy Halbig, Manager of Innovative Learning at Lake County Schools. “The grant will allow us to accelerate our work and collaborate with other districts.”

Piloting and planning will continue at Carver Middle, Lake Minneola High and Eustis High schools.

Personalized learning incorporates student voice and choice in the learning process and allows teachers to adjust the pace and delivery of instruction to address each student’s individual learning strengths and needs. Research shows that students who experience one-to-one instruction achieve at a far greater pace than students who experience traditional classroom instruction. Personalized learning helps maximize that one-one-one time teachers have with students.

It also incorporates more technology, as Lake County has done with the addition of student mobile devices, the introduction of Bring Your Own Device at schools, upgrades to the district’s network, and bringing Safari Montage to the district to manage the delivery of digital curriculum. All have laid the groundwork for a more focused, district-wide initiative on personalized learning.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our students,’’ said Dr. Susan Moxley, superintendent of Lake County Schools. “Personalized learning allows teachers to tailor what a student learns based on the student’s individual needs, skills and interests. This will help make our classrooms more engaging for our students.”

In 2013, LCS received a $100,000 grant to develop a district-wide strategic plan for successful implementation of personalized learning. In 2014, a $400,000 grant funded the second phase of the project – providing for professional development for teachers and school administrators, as well as technology and software support. The latest grant supports the official launch of full-scale personalized learning at select schools with four to six additional schools coming on line with personalized learning in each subsequent year until 2022, when all schools in Lake will have implemented personalized learning.

Learn more about personalized learning in Lake at http://www.lake.k12.fl.us/personalizedlearning.


Congratulations to Candace Huxhold, culinary arts teacher at South Lake High School. She has completed all of her Certified Secondary Foodservice Educator (CSFE) requirements. She personally handed in her paperwork for this national certification at the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation headquarters in Chicago.

“Due to the Summer Institute requirement, this certification takes at least three years to complete,” she said. “It has been an awe-inspiring experience for me to have been given the opportunity to achieve such an honor at the national level.”

The CSFE was developed for educators at the secondary level to

  • improve and enhance restaurant and foodservice knowledge,
  • develop technical and teaching skills, and satisfy certification and credential requirements of state and local school districts ,
  • satisfy certification and credential requirements of state and local school districts and professional and trade associations.

To achieve the CSFE certification, the following is required:

  • Associate degree or an equivalent from an accredited institution or from a recognized teacher education institution.
  • Certified under contract with school district or Temporary Certified Educator under contract with the school district.
  • Complete the requirements of the Basic, Advanced and Mastery Levels of the Summer Institutes and pass certification test for all levels.
  • Complete 120 hours of industry experience as outlined in the Internship Requirements.
  • Submit a unit lesson plan from industry experience.

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