Esther Hoagland was named Lake County Schools’ Volunteer of the Year and Bonnie Lee Pederson was named School-Related Employee of the Year at the recent Night of Stars event hosted by the Educational Foundation of Lake County.

Hoagland, a volunteer at Eustis Heights Elementary School, accumulated 665 volunteer hours this year alone. Over the last 20 years, she has volunteered more than 15,000 hours.

Pederson, a media clerk at Umatilla High School, take on numerous tasks at the school including managing the front desk in the media center, scheduling lab times, managing the check-out system for the computers on wheels, assisting the testing administrator and chairing the student incentive program. She is a fifth-generation “Umatillian” and a graduate of Umatilla High School, where her son is a student.

Congratulations to them both!


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Congratulations to the Oak Park Silver Knight Concert Band who received an Excellent rating for their performance at the Florida Bandmaster’s Association District 19 Music Performance Assessment. They did a wonderful job and we are very proud of their musical growth this year!

 Additionally, the Oak Park Knights of Jazz recently travelled to Port Orange to attend the Lakeside Jazz Festival. The band did a wonderful job and received an Excellent rating for their performance from the event judges. Special congratulations goes out to Lance Pratt, 7th grade, trombone, for receiving Best Solo for the group!


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Kellyann Goring, a 2nd grade teacher at Astatula Elementary, was invited to bring two students to The Computer Science Corporation’s (CSC) international technology convention in Orlando to showcase the students’ knowledge of computer coding.

Julia, a 2nd grader in Mrs. Goring’s class, highlighted the Wonder Workshop robot Dash. Julia is able to code Dash using the Blockly and Wonder apps.

Adam, a 3rd grader and former student of Mrs. Goring, highlighted a new robot called Ozobot. This robot can be coded to dance the cha-cha and even light up like a disco ball by listening to the commands that Adam coded onto the Ipad.

Both students have completed the code.org “Hour of Code” course as well as the 20 hour course online.

Code.org received a $50,000 check from the CSC foundation to continue the important work they are doing in the area of STEM.

We are so proud of our students and Mrs. Goring for showing the world that our students can do anything!



Treadway Elementary is bringing back its annual Country Bear Fair on Saturday, April 30, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The fair is held on campus at 10619 Treadway School Road in Leesburg. All money raised will help support the school’s STEM lab. The event is open to the community and promises to bring together family, friends and businesses for a day of fun. If you’d like to be a vendor, it’s not too late. Just contact the school at 352-742-2291.

congressional art

Tavares High School sophomore Veronica Vintilla won first place for Lake County in the 10th district of Florida for the Congressional Art Competition. The winning photo is of a ballerina who “dances fearlessly as the focal point in a photo where all lines lead to her,” Veronica writes. “She radiates the spirit of America in the sense that they are both strong and cannot be broken. She is confident in what lies ahead and is ready to take on the world.” The photo will be on display in Congressman Daniel Webster’s office for a year.


Three Leesburg High School faculty members — Tessa Clark, Elisabeth Emery, and Candace McLendon — have been selected to participate in the University of Florida’s Bench to Bedside Teacher Summer Program from June 12-24.

UF’s Bench to Bedside is a partnership program, joining the talents of high school teachers and university research faculty and students. It focuses on studies of clinical and translational research, the process by which an idea goes from research and development in a laboratory setting to a product or technique used by doctors/patients in a clinical setting.  The program is funded by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded to CPET.

The program has provided professional development for teachers throughout the state of Florida, as well as lab and curricular assistance for teachers and their students.

Teachers  who participate commit to the following:

  • Attend the two-week program and create an Action Proposal, incorporating translational research into a classroom-ready unit;
  • Implement Action Proposals in classrooms during the school year;
  • Model and promote inquiry / discovery learning;
  • Provide in-service training to other teachers in school or district where possible;
  • Share progress with Bench to Bedside program participants and coordinators;
  • Present results of Action Proposal at Junior Science, Engineering and Humanities Symposium (JSEHS) held at UF (February 2017) and in format publishable on the internet.


oak park middle

Oak Park Middle School now has three lesson plans published on CPALMS, the state of Florida’s official source for information, resources and interactive tools to help educators implement teaching standards.

The lessons are “Crash Test Dummies,” “Save Our Lakes,” and “Genetics and Proportions.”

This was made possible as a result of a $473,000 grant awarded to Lake County Schools to provide intensive training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for teachers during the 2015-16 school year.

The K-12 Math and Science Partnership STEM Grant, awarded by the Florida Department of Education, specifically targets teachers in grades 3 through 12 in Leesburg and in the Wildwood area of Sumter County. The goal is to improve teacher content knowledge tied directly to the Florida Standards for the purpose of creating quality educators and increasing student achievement.

Lake County Schools and Sumter District Schools are partners in this project. The two districts share an adjacent boundary that encompasses the Leesburg and Wildwood area feeder patterns, including 11 schools serving more than 9,000 students. The Lake Schools are Beverly Shores, Fruitland Park, Leesburg, Treadway and Villages elementary schools; Carver and Oak Park middle; and Leesburg High. The Sumter schools are Wildwood Elementary, South Sumter Middle and Wildwood Middle High.

Through this project teachers receive expert training and technical assistance from Florida State University, Florida Polytechnic University, the Orlando Science Center and TechKNOW Associates. They form 42 STEM teams consisting of two to four members each across all participating schools. Those teams then create STEM project-based integrated lessons and mastery-based student work that is published on CPALMS.

Ultimately, the project is expected to increase knowledge and skills for teachers and achievement and engagement for students.

Congrats, Oak Park!


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