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A new venue at Lake-Sumter State College’s Everett A. Kelly Convocation Center gave the Educational Foundation of Lake County’s annual Night of Stars celebration a new vibe this year as dozens of volunteers and school employees were honored last week.

Night of StarsFrom more than 6,000 volunteers, schools selected 51 volunteers who were vying for the Volunteer of the Year honor. The three finalists for the honor were:

Harmony Gray, Beverly Shores Elementary School — As the youth division winner, she volunteered more than 440 hours this school year and has been a volunteer for two years. Some of her volunteer activities include: helping with the summer pre-kindergarten program; school office; and family science nights.

Gayle Minnig, Mount Dora High School — As the adult division winner, she has volunteered more than 2,000 hours this year and has been a volunteer for 4 years. Volunteering for the Hurricane Marching Band at Mount Dora High is her passion. Her biggest challenge date was to organize the band’s largest field trip in history: the Super Bowl parade in New Orleans.

Martha Koons, Beverly Shores Elementary School — As the senior division winner, she had volunteered more than 2,500 hours this year and has been a volunteer for 10 years. Her patience and dedication has helped hundreds of children learn to read not only at Beverly Shores, but at Eustis Heights and Leesburg elementary schools as well.

Minnig was selected as the Volunteer of the Year. Three finalists were also vying for the School-Related Employee of the Year honor. The three finalists were:

Night of StarsNilda Rivera — A Secretary from the Human Resources Department, Rivera has been with the school district for 10 years. She is responsible for fingerprinting and screening employees. Her supervisor finds her to be organized and constantly looking to improve productivity.

Allison Auld — A Bookkeeper at Leesburg High, Auld has been with the school district for seven years. Principal Bill Miller cites her skills and accuracy as a factor of her nomination but states “the finest characteristic of Mrs. Auld is her passion to assist struggling students. She has adopted several student mentees and meets regularly to offer encouragement.”

Lydia Flores — A Secretary for Title I Department, Flores has eight years of experience with the school district. She is known for her passion for working with families who are sometimes left out of the school setting. She has formed relationships within the community to provide food, clothing and household items to families in need.

Rivera was selected as the School-Related Employee of the Year. The nominees for the Volunteer of the Year and School Employee of the Year awards were selected by peer vote at their school site or department and a panel of independent judges scored the nominee packets using guidelines from the Florida Department of Education. Both winners will compete at the state level over the summer.

Other awards handed out during the celebration included:

  • Business Partners of the Year — Akers Media and Walt Disney World
  • Scott Strong Volunteer of the Year — Jim Miller
  • Foundation Board Member of the Year — Bill Giffing

Volunteers honored at the Night of Stars, which was hosted by the Educational Foundation of Lake County and sponsored by CFE Federal Credit Union, Electric Services Inc., Mathias Foodservice Equipment, SEIU, Herff-Jones and AXA Financial include (number of hours reflect their volunteer time served and years of service):

YOUTH DIVISION

  • Harmony L. Gray, Beverly Shores Elementary (440 hours, 2 years)
  • Ashley May, East Ridge High (300 hours, 1 year)
  • Darian Hunter, Fruitland Park Elementary (180 hours, 1.5 years)
  • Kristen Larson, Groveland Elementary (120 hours, 2 years)
  • Mariam McIntosh, Grassy Lake Elementary (253 hours, 1.5 hours)
  • Danielle Reid, Lost Lake Elementary (110 hours, 4 years)
  • Jane Saunders, Mount Dora Middle (117 hours, 1.5 years)
  • Robert Carlisle, Pine Ridge Elementary (20 hours, 3 years)
  • Maya Weissman, Sawgrass Bay Elementary (10 hours, 1 year)
  • Austin McCullough, Seminole Springs Elementary (23 hours, 1 year)
  • Mara Fenlon, Tavares Elementary (443 hours, 5 years)
  • Michael Crowe, Tavares Middle (70 hours, 2 years)
  • Rachel Schram, Triangle Elementary (175 hours, 2 years)
  • Robyn Demitry, Umatilla Elementary (200 hours, 4 years)
  • Jon Elbert Hoskinson, Windy Hill Middle (270 hours, 2 years)

ADULT DIVISION

  • Angela Tatro, Beverly Shores Elementary (1,240 hours, 2 years)
  • Margie Donelson, East Ridge High (400 hours, 2 years)
  • Cyndi Caruso, Eustis High (540 hours, 3 years)
  • Robin Bracco, Fruitland Park Elementary (200 hours, 4 years)
  • Cherie Larson, Groveland Elementary (600 hours, 6 years)
  • Adam Cronk, Grassy Lake Elementary (209 hours, 4 years)
  • Sherina Jones, Leesburg Elementary (800 hours, 3 years)
  • Theresa Sherman, Lost Lake Elementary (104 hours, 3 years)
  • Cheryl Johnson, Minneola Charter Elementary (789 hours, 4 years)
  • Gayle Minnig, Mount Dora High (2,000 hours, 4 years)
  • Dana Bruns, Mount Dora Middle (14 hours, 1.5 years)
  • Sarah Forero, Pine Ridge Elementary (189 hours, 2 years)
  • Jenny Solano, Sawgrass Bay Elementary (105 hours, 5 years)
  • Krista Pentz, Seminole Springs Elementary (264 hours, 2 years)
  • Anna Schroth, Sorrento Elementary (365 hours, 3 years)
  • Carla Stephens, Spring Creek Charter (300 hours, 9 years)
  • Mary Hongo, Tavares Elementary (424 hours, 4 years)
  • Andrew Jones, Tavares High (450 hours, 2 years)
  • Sandy Wooster, Tavares Middle (1,500 hours, 9 years)
  • Colleen Terry, Triangle Elementary (250 hours, 4 years)
  • Laura Rummel, Umatilla Elementary (160 hours, 4 years)
  • Hazel Morfe, Windy Hill Middle (100 hours, 8 years)

SENIOR DIVISION

  • Martha Koons, Beverly Shores Elementary (2,500 hours, 10 years)
  • Gerry Baiman, East Ridge High (400 hours, 1 year)
  • Beverly Lang, Fruitland Park Elementary (116 hours, 2 months)
  • Stuart Young, Groveland Elementary (363 hours, 1 year)
  • Barbara Carmody, Grassy Lake Elementary (150 hours, 4 years)
  • Vincent Brewer, Lost Lake Elementary (86 hours, 10 years)
  • Sharon Sayre, Pine Ridge Elementary (169 hours, 3 years)
  • Carol Finger, Sawgrass Bay Elementary (44 hours, 6 years)
  • Joyce Stevens, Seminole Springs Elementary (134 hours, 17 years)
  • Sue Wolf, Tavares Elementary (1,200 hours, 3 years)
  • Robert Herrick, Treadway Elementary (285 hours, 5 years)
  • Donna Hobbs, Triangle Elementary (1,690 hours, 5 years)
  • Michael Crawford, Windy Hill Middle (108 hours, 4 years)

SCHOOL-RELATED EMPLOYEES HONORED AT THE NIGHT OF STARS INCLUDE:

  • Dawn Johnson, Astatula Elementary
  • Shunta Hurst, Beverly Shores Elementary
  • Jennifer Pease, Carver Middle
  • Lynne Gigliati, Clermont Elementary
  • Richard Bowman, Clermont Middle
  • Patty Robbins, Cypress Ridge Elementary
  • Nicole Oster, East Ridge High
  • Xavier Rodriguez, East Ridge Middle
  • Maria Parra, Eustis Elementary
  • Sandra Todd, Eustis Heights Elementary
  • Cindy McVeigh, Eustis High
  • Regina Brown, Eustis Middle
  • Sarah Lockwood, Fruitland Park Elementary
  • D’Lynn Garay, Grassy Lake Elementary
  • Regina Penny, Gray Middle
  • Dawn Simons, Groveland Elementary
  • Jessica Hopperton, Lake County Virtual School
  • Lucy Hall, Lake Hills School
  • Alice Schellhorn, Lake Minneola High
  • Irene B. Storm, Lake Technical Center
  • Alex Marchbanks, Leesburg Elementary
  • Allison Auld, Leesburg High
  • Bobbie Beer, Lost Lake Elementary
  • Robin Harris, Mascotte Charter Elementary
  • Leonor Morales, Minneola Charter Elementary
  • Emma Arredondo, Mount Dora High
  • Mary Mulligan, Mount Dora Middle
  • Sue Dearwester, Oak Park Middle
  • Yvonne Milejczak, Pine Ridge Elementary
  • Roger White, Rimes Early Learning & Literacy Center
  • Kimber Keene, Round Lake Charter Elementary
  • Orlenda Martinez, Sawgrass Bay Elementary
  • Sharon Solomon, Seminole Springs Elementary
  • Maria Tew, Sorrento Elementary
  • Mary McKinnon, South Lake High
  • Teresa Hammock, Spring Creek Charter
  • Kathy Williams, Tavares Elementary
  • Benjamin Crunk, Tavares High
  • Gloria Reyes, Tavares Middle
  • Alphonso Williams, Treadway Elementary
  • Nancy Woodward, Triangle Elementary
  • Nancy White, Umatilla Elementary
  • Donna Daughtry, Umatilla High
  • David W. Brown, Umatilla Middle
  • Tom Smith, Villages Elementary
  • Kathy Staab, Windy Hill Middle
  • Lydia Flores, Title I
  • Shannon Hensley, Maintenance Department
  • Melissa Metz Moore, Facilities Department
  • Nilda Rivera, Human Resources Department
  • Nancy Hauptkorn, Main Transportation
  • Jerri Groves, South Lake Bus Lot
  • John Ross, Tavares Bus Lot
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The entire Lake County community is invited to select their preference between two proposed calendar options for the 2014-2015 school year through an online poll at http://lake.k12.fl.us/calendarvote.

Parents, students, employees, and community members can review the two calendar options online before selecting their preferred option. With both options, the school year for Lake County Schools is slated to begin on Monday, Aug. 18. The first option has school ending on June 4 with more days off around Thanksgiving and the winter holidays with Spring Break from March 30-April 3. The second option has school ending on June 2 with fewer days off around Thanksgiving and the winter holidays and Spring Break is on March 23-27.

To select an option and review each calendar option, log on to http://lake.k12.fl.us/calendarvote. The online poll will close on Monday, April 14.

The results of the online poll will be forwarded to the Lake County School Board. The Board is expected to consider the school calendar option at its meeting on Monday, April 28.

This year’s school calendar has been delayed as school districts rely on the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) to set testing dates, which for the purpose of a school calendar are used to ensure that spring break schedules do not interfere with statewide testing schedules. The 2014-15 school year is when testing in Florida will transition from the FCAT 2.0 and end-of-course exams to an assessment that measures high quality curriculum standards. The Florida Department of Education is in the process of making plans for these new tests and has not released the 2014-2015 testing schedule.

Although FLDOE has not released a testing schedule, the Lake County School District is moving forward with the calendar approval process. It is important to remember that when the testing calendar is released from the state, the school calendar for next year may need to be adjusted to accommodate the predetermined testing dates.

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This month marked the annual tradition of announcing finalists for the Rookie Teacher of the Year and School-Related Employee of the Year for Lake County Schools.

Rookie Teacher of the YearBased upon judges’ review of their applications the following finalists were selected:

ROOKIE TEACHER OF THE YEAR

Laura Fagan, Windy Hill Middle School

Lindsey Massaro, Umatilla Middle School

Cynthia Murray, Eustis Heights Elementary School

SCHOOL-RELATED EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR

Nilda Rivera, Human Resources Services Department

Lydia Flores, Title I office in Clermont

Allison Auld, Leesburg High School

To be eligible for the Rookie Teacher of the Year award, teachers must have three years of experience or less. The final selection will be announced at the Educational Foundation’s “Rookie Teachers of the Year Celebration” on March 19 at Lake-Sumter State College’s Everett A. Kelly Convocation Center in Leesburg after another panel of judges’ conducts on site interviews and observes the three finalists in the classroom. More information about the three finalists includes:

LAURA FAGAN — An eighth-grade American History teacher at Windy Hill Middle, Fagan writes in her application that her “philosophy of teaching is centered on the idea that students should interact with history instead of reciting it. History can be made meaningful by making it applicable.” The second-year teacher and volleyball coach continues, “American History doesn’t need bell or whistles. Standing alone it is one of the most interesting histories of any nation.” Amy Cockcroft, Principal at Windy Hill Middle, said, “She just brings the classroom to life. You can feel the excitement.”

LINDSEY MASSARO — The first-year band director at Umatilla Middle, Massaro states that her teaching style is to “guide my students’ quest for knowledge by providing access to information rather than acting as the primary source of information. For students to construct knowledge, they need the opportunity to discover and practice skills in authentic situations.” Kelly Sanders, Principal at Umatilla Middle, said, “Much of her success is due to the unparalleled relationships she has developed with her students and the community at-large. Lindsey’s approach is invitational and her can-do attitude has made a world of difference for the band program.”

CYNTHIA MURRAY — The third-year Kindergarten teacher at Eustis Heights Elementary writes in her application that an outstanding teacher is defined by their ability “to go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the success of your students. Outstanding teachers teach to the unique needs of each student by developing rigorous lessons connected to their students’ real-world experiences.” Brenna Burkhead, Principal at Eustis Heights Elementary, said, “She is a leader on campus. She goes above and beyond to meet student needs.”

 

School-Related Employee of the YearThe School-Related Employee of the Year honors is also a tight race between three employees, who work at a school or department and were nominated for the honor by their peers. All nominees filled out an application and a panel of judges’ scored the applications to select the three finalists. The honoree for the award will be announced at the Educational Foundation’s “Night of Stars” event on April 10 at Lake-Sumter State College. The final selection includes:

NILDA RIVERA — She began her career with Lake County Schools a year and a half ago and is currently responsibly for fingerprinting new hires, volunteers and vendors. Carolyn Samuel, Director of Human Resources, wrote in a recommendation letter, “She has been a very industrious employee who gives 100 percent each day. Nilda has proven to be dependable, trustworthy, flexible and knowledgeable of the job duties that she has been assigned.” She continues, “Above all, she wants to perform her functions in a proficient and correct manner.”

LYDIA FLORES — With seven years of experience in the Title I Department, Flores has a range of responsibilities including secretarial support, assisting with the Parent Involvement Program and participating in Family School Liaison meetings. Rusty Dosh, Administrative Coordinator for Title I, wrote in a recommendation letter, “Ms. Flores exhibits a strong willingness to provide assistance in tough situations and the ability to adapt when necessary.” He continued, “It is clear to me that she is a caring worker who seeks to enhance and improve her skills for betterment of the department and our district.

ALLISON AULD — Currently in her second year as a bookkeeper at Leesburg High, Auld helps the school maintain financial records and databases. Bill Miller, Principal at Leesburg High, said, “We are very fortunate to have Ms. Auld as bookkeeper. She brings expertise, insight and compassion to our school. She has forged great relationships with the community, students and staff. Her stellar work ethic combined with her commitment to Leesburg High School does not go unnoticed.”

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A hiccup in Lake County School District’s fingerprinting system nearly caused a catastrophic delay in the start of the 2012-2013 school year if it wasn’t for the support of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Leesburg Police Department.

The Lake County School Board this month recognized representatives from both law enforcement agencies for making it possible for new teachers and other employees to be ready for students on the first day of school.

In August, the Human Resource Services Department at Lake County Schools was unable to process fingerprints and complete required background checks on candidates for employment due to a problem that the District’s vendor was unable to correct. The problem continued for several weeks until the Sheriff’s Office and Leesburg Police Department came to the rescue.

“They welcomed our prospective employees to their offices; completed the fingerprinting; submitted the fingerprints to FDLE; and we received the background checks so that we could have our people in class on day one,” said Laurie Marshall, Executive Director of the Human Resource Services Department. “We would have not have been able to do it without them.

Marshall continued, “Thank you all for your tremendous contribution to getting school started the right way.”

The School Board recognized Sheriff Gary Borders and Sheila McBee from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Capt. Max Parker and Sonja Vicchiollo from the Leesburg Police Department. In addition, Martin Paszkiewicz, Network Administrator in the IT Department at Lake County Schools, was recognized for working tirelessly to resolve the fingerprinting issue.

“This was an unusual situation and it came at a system critical time for us with getting people cleared to be in the classroom, especially when we were one week away from starting school,” said Dr. Susan Moxley, Superintendent of Lake County Schools. “This is what makes our community great. Lake County is a wonderful, supportive community, and when one organization needs help the other organizations gladly step up no matter what it takes to get the job done.”

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