Congratulations to Justin Crouch of Umatilla High School! He is Lake County’s Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made at a celebration dinner presented by the Educational Foundation of Lake County on Feb. 28.

Pictured from left, Umatilla High School Principal Randell Campbell, Teacher Justin Crouch, Superintendent Dr. Susan Moxley, School Board members Rosanne Brandeburg and Marc Dodd)

Pictured from left, Umatilla High School Principal Randell Campbell, Teacher Justin Crouch, Superintendent Dr. Susan Moxley, School Board members Rosanne Brandeburg and Marc Dodd)

Crouch began his teaching career four years ago as a social studies teacher at Umatilla High School. He continues in that role and serves as the department chair, mentoring other teachers and facilitating weekly Professional Development meetings. He works with a wide range of students, from those scoring at lower reading levels to those in his upper level Advanced Placement Macroeconomics course and uses innovative ways to help all of them achieve. He wrote lesson plans that are being used for a unit in Economics and AP Macroeconomics throughout Lake County. It centers on a chapter in Terry Anderson and Donald Leal’s book Free Market Environmentalism and is focused on the effects of the privatization of public parks. He was the 2013-14 Rookie teacher of the Year for Umatilla High and is the 2014-15 Social Studies Teacher of the Year for Umatilla High.

Crouch was one of three finalists for the award. The others were Julie Forgie of Windy Hill Middle School and Melissa Meadows of Treadway Elementary School.

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Mary Ellen Griffith-Russo, a Mount Dora Florida Standards Teacher.

Mary Ellen Griffith-Russo, a Mount Dora Florida Standards Teacher.

Lake Legal News will publish an investigative report in their March issue by Mary Ellen Griffith-Russo, a Mount Dora Florida Standards Teacher and published author. Taken from her Master’s thesis research, the non-fiction article examines the case of Leo Schofield, a man who was convicted of his wife’s brutal murder based solely on circumstantial evidence. Schofield has always maintained his innocence and years after his incarceration the fingerprints of another convicted murderer were found in the victim’s car.

Griffith-Russo has been teaching in Lake County for six years and writing for local publications including Lake Healthy Living and Lake Sumter Style. She earned her MFA in non-fiction creative writing in 2013, after Atlantic Publishing put out her co-authored instructional softcover How to Be Successful in Your First Year of Teaching Middle School. Griffith-Russo lives in Eustis with her dog Charlie Barker, and two cats, Atticus Finch and Boo Radley.


Registration for Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten at Rimes Early Learning Center is scheduled for March 18, 3:30—5:30.

Applications are available on the Lake County Schools website as well as at the school site.  You can access the form and information by going to www.lake.k12.fl.us. Go to the “Voluntary PreK (VPK)” in the Departments and Programs tab.  The State of Florida provides 540 hours for the school year VPK program.  Rimes is a Title One School and offers full day limited classes for a full year to eligible students.  Rimes also offers a half day class.

The VPK Economic Eligibility Application must be completed and attached to the LCS VPK application to assist in determining Title I eligibility for full day class.  Don’t hesitate in registering for VPK.  Our VPK program has a limited number of seats and a waiting list for eligible students.

If you have any questions in regards to VPK at Rimes, please contact Tara Underwood at 352-787-5757.

Sara Pennington, legislative aide to state Rep. Larry Metz, visited East Ridge Middle School last week to learn more about the success of the Advancement Via

Sara Pennington, legislative aide to state Rep. Larry Metz.

Sara Pennington, legislative aide to state Rep. Larry Metz.

Individual Determination (AVID) college readiness system there and at East Ridge High School. Pennington toured classrooms on Feb. 25, observing students

solving equations in 8th-grade pre-algebra, supporting a claim with evidence in 8th-grade language arts, completing a lab assignment in 7th-grade science and crafting higher order questions in 7th-grade AVID elective.

She then joined a team of principals, coordinators and other personnel from both schools for a discussion about AVID, which was introduced to Lake County in 2009. “Our time together allowed us to share the impact of AVID district-wide for students,’’ said Kelly Cousineau, AVID district director for Lake County Schools. “Our debrief conversation centered on the power of an AVID culture on a campus, the innovation leadership involved in supporting a strong AVID system, and how AVID has increased access to AP coursework for Lake County Schools students, as evidence by our district’s recent induction into the AP Honor Roll.”

AVID aims to increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges. Although AVID serves all students, it focuses on those in the academic middle. Students who take the AVID elective course receive instruction in academic survival skills such as taking notes, staying organized and speaking effectively, so they can be successful in more rigorous coursework.

“AVID is accelerating our district goal of college and career readiness for all students,” Cousineau said.

VEX_RoboticsFive robotics teams from Lake County Schools have qualified to compete at the World Championship in Louisville, KY, April 14-19.

The teams from Fruitland Park Elementary, Cypress Ridge Elementary and Carver Middle schools were part of the Florida VEX Robotics State Championship on Feb. 21 at the University of South Florida’s Sun Dome in Tampa. The VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) is a STEM program with 300 Florida teams ranging from elementary to college students. VEX has grown to nearly 12,000 teams worldwide representing 36 countries.

Top teams from local events throughout the state qualified to compete in the 2015 state championship in high school, middle school and elementary school divisions. Lake County Schools brought 14 teams to the state competition.

The top teams in each division will compete at the world competition. Included are five teams from three Lake County Schools. They are:

• Fruitland Park Elementary Robo-Wizards (VEX IQ) – Dencov Bryant, Alexis Cowgill, Nichola Desforges and Sydney Williams (Teacher, Crystal Rizzo)
• Cypress Ridge Elementary Betabots (VEX IQ) – Ethan Loden, Mattias Peroni, Koen Phipps and Emma Schoer (Teacher, Ashley Phipps)
o State Design Award
o Teacher Ashley Phipps was named a State Volunteer of the Year

• Carver Middle Raider-Gators (VEX IQ) – Joey Jarrett, Matt Jutkofsky, Acadia Schwartz and Marshall Widmann (Teacher, Bart Nash)
o State STEM Research Project Award

• Carver Middle Hunters (VRC) – Noah Burry, Harrison Dicus, Caleb LeWare, Will Pyles and Craig Yox, Jr. (Teacher, Bart Nash)
o State Tournament Champions.

• Carver Middle Avalanche (VRC) – Dylan Humphrey and Andrew Junkin (Teacher, Bart Nash)
o State Tournament Finalists
o State Design Award
o State Programming Skills Award

The teams will have their robots on display before the Lake County School Board meeting on March 9 and will be recognized by the board for their accomplishments. Students will display the robots at 5:30 p.m. in the rotunda of the Lake County Administration Building, 315 W. Main Street, Tavares. The Board meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in Commission Chambers.

Teams are asking for community support to help with World Championship expenses. If you or your business would like to sponsor them, please contact Lori Humphrey at humphreyl@lake.k12.fl.us, Crystal Rizzo at rizzoc@lake.k12.fl.us, and Ashley Phipps at phippsa@lake.k12.fl.us.

Registration for the voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK) program at Beverly Shores Elementary School is March 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and March 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Parents should bring the following documentation for their student:

• Original birth certificate or certified copy
• Proof of residency (lease agreement, utility bill, etc.)
• Immunization records
• School physical records

The child must be present at the time of registration, as the process includes a brief screening for every applicant.

Questions? Contact the school at 352-787-4175.


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