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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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Second graders from Pine Ridge Elementary recently created wonderful crafts using reusable materials and sold the items to raise money at the school’s annual “Bear Olympics” on April 5.

Second graders Kaelyn Neuhauser and Catherine Decker sell crafts for a good cause at Pine Ridge Elementary School’s annual Bear Olympics.

Second graders Kaelyn Neuhauser and Catherine Decker sell crafts for a good cause at Pine Ridge Elementary School’s annual Bear Olympics.

The items were sold to benefit a fellow Lake County Schools second grader, who was recently in a serious accident. The students with the help of other Pine Ridge Elementary families were able to raise $175 for this great cause.

Second grade teachers Kimberly Keane and Sheila Kruse spent time discussing with their students about habitats; the impact humans have on the environment; and the importance of protecting the planet. Students researched, collaborated and prepared information about different habitats. As part of the community involvement portion of the students’ project-based learning on the habitat, students created crafts from plastic bottles, bags, and other reusable materials.

“The crafts made it extra special for them to produce and sell for a fellow student,” said Stephanie Mayuski, Principal at Pine Ridge Elementary. “This entire activity rolls right into our current essential question this week of ‘What do good citizens do?’. Pine Ridge Elementary cares about our environment and others.”

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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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Laura Fagan, an eighth grade social studies teacher from Windy Hill Middle School, took the title of 2015 Rookie Teacher of the Year for Lake County Schools at last month’s Award Ceremony at Lake-Sumter State College.

“I want to share this recognition with you all,” Fagan said to her fellow Rookie Teacher of the Year nominees. “This award could be justified going home with any one of you, and I believe that is something to celebrate.”

Rookie Teacher of the YearThe two other finalists for the annual award were Cynthia Murray, a kindergarten teacher at Eustis Heights Elementary, and Lindsey Massaro, a band teacher at Umatilla Middle. The Rookie Teachers of the Year Celebration was hosted by the Educational Foundation of Lake County and presented by Ernie Morris Enterprises and HON.

The finalists were selected based upon a panel of judges’ review of their application. To be eligible for the award, teachers must have three years of experience or less. The final selection was announced after another panel of judges conducted on-site interviews and observed the three finalists in the classroom.

“It is an honor to have Mrs. Fagan recognized as the Rookie Teacher of the Year,” said Amy Cockcroft, Principal at Windy Hill Middle. “She has an amazing ability to bring her content to life, while getting her students to reach high standards and all while having fun.”

Fagan is in her second year teaching at Windy Hill Middle. She believes, “If asked, students would say my class is fun. But, I would argue that it is something else. What my students don’t know is that there is a difference between fun and novelty. The novelty of the history is what makes it fun and exciting. I am thrilled to find my students captivated by history.”

Nominees for Rookie Teacher of the Year from each school were recognized at the event, including:

  • Carissa Kase, Astatula Elementary
  • Kelly Messer, Beverly Shores Elementary
  • Gregory Chavis, Carver Middle
  • Heather Fern, Clermont Elementary
  • Howard Gowan, Clermont Middle
  • Joseph E. Davidson, Cypress Ridge Elementary
  • Christopher Eck, East Ridge High
  • Tanci Levit, East Ridge Middle
  • Angela Kirkpatrick, Eustis Elementary
  • Cynthia Murray, Eustis Heights Elementary
  • Nicole Marie Austin, Eustis High
  • Rebecca Collins, Eustis Middle
  • Jeanne Villegas, Fruitland Park Elementary
  • Dana Colangelo, Grassy Lake Elementary
  • Cari Urankar, Gray Middle
  • Micaella Glenn, Groveland Elementary
  • Jordan Bombard, Lake Hills
  • Charles P. Durante, Lake Technical Center
  • Courtney Welch, Leesburg Elementary
  • Nicole DeLuca, Leesburg High
  • Kacy Wolfe, Lost Lake Elementary
  • Jodi Cousins, Mascotte Charter Elementary
  • Luis Robles, Minneola Charter Elementary
  • Ben Bullock, Mount Dora High
  • Logan Steuben, Mount Dora Middle
  • Christina Fulton, Oak Park Middle
  • Patricia Franklin, Pine Ridge Elementary
  • Stephanie Fishel, Rimes Early Learning Center
  • Kathleen Chestnut, Round Lake Charter Elementary
  • John Joseph Ardizone, Sawgrass Bay Elementary
  • Amanda Gibson, Seminole Seminoles Elementary
  • Eric Calabrese, South Lake High
  • Christina Faryna, Spring Creek Charter
  • Cortney Smathers, Tavares Elementary
  • Nikki Sauerbrey, Tavares High
  • Victoria Warnet, Tavares Middle
  • Wendy Charles, Treadway Elementary
  • Dongmi Donnini, Triangle Elementary
  • Ashlee Raczkowski, Umatilla Elementary
  • Jennifer Rausch, Umatilla High
  • Lindsey Massaro, Umatilla Middle
  • Lisa Deffenbaugh, Villages Elementary
  • Laura Fagan, Windy Hill Middle

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An evening to celebrate the outstanding teachers of Lake County and an opportunity to congratulate the newest Teacher of the Year brought hundreds of guests to Lake Receptions in Mount Dora.

The Teacher of the Year Celebration, presented by the Educational Foundation of Lake County, recognized 47 teachers from schools in Lake County that were nominated by their peers to represent their respective schools. From the nominees, a panel of six judges graded the teachers’ applications to narrow the list to three finalists: Keith Hyndshaw from Leesburg High, Tiffany Scott from Mount Dora Middle and Rachel Adams from Round Lake Elementary Conversion Charter. Three judges conducted a site interview with the finalists before arriving at the final choice.

Teacher of the YearThe celebration included a host of speakers, including Jerry Miller from Duke Energy and Lake County School Board Members Rosanne Brandeburg, Kyleen Fischer and Debbie Stivender. The emcee for the evening was State Sen. Alan Hays. The keynote speaker for the event was Dorina Sackman, 2014 State of Florida Teacher of the Year.

As anticipation grew for the final selection to be announced, Lake County Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Moxley and 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year Noris Aguayo from Groveland Elementary and Academic Services helped set the stage with inspirational messages to teachers. Dr. Moxley opened the envelope to reveal Adams’ selection. Shortly after the announcement, Kimberly Jarvis, Principal of Groveland Elementary, transferred the Teacher of the Year Trophy to Linda Bartberger, Principal at Round Lake Elementary.

Adams has five years of teaching experience, including the last year as the fourth grade teacher at Round Lake Elementary Conversion Charter.

The other Teachers of the Year recognized at the event include:

  • Matt Burris, Astatula Elementary
  • Karen Zachar, Beverly Shores Elementary
  • Linda Wright, Carver Middle
  • Jennifer Lykins, Clermont Elementary
  • Nethia McConnell, Clermont Middle
  • Stacey M. Taylor, Cypress Ridge Elementary
  • Betty Howard, East Ridge High
  • Cheryl Manganiello, East Ridge Middle
  • Kristy Beach, Eustis Elementary
  • Damian Bardoni, Eustis Heights Elementary
  • Jessica Dawn Mariany, Eustis High
  • Roberta Schneck, Eustis Middle
  • Ellen Miller, Fruitland Park Elementary
  • James Neiford, Grassy Lake Elementary
  • Chelsey Gismonde, Gray Middle
  • Amy Tarquine, Groveland Elementary
  • John Wall, Humanities and Fine Arts Charter
  • Carolyn Mendez, Lake County Virtual School
  • Gina M. Hay, Lake Hills School
  • Stephanie Dunlap, Lake Minneola High
  • Beth L. Thornton, Lake Technical Center
  • Jessica Hunter, Leesburg Elementary
  • Sue Reid, Lost Lake Elementary
  • Wendi Newman, Mascotte Charter Elementary
  • Natalie Dyer, Minneola Charter Elementary
  • Billye Kozlowski, Mount Dora High
  • Andrea Smith, Oak Park Middle
  • Kristin O’Hara, Pine Ridge Elementary
  • Theresa Daugherty, Rimes Early Learning & Literacy Center
  • Imali Kent, Sawgrass Bay Elementary
  • Edwin Anderson, Seminole Springs Elementary
  • Jennifer Hurley, Sorrento Elementary
  • John Hebert, South Lake High
  • Kelly Ferrie, Spring Creek Elementary Charter
  • Terri Reynolds, Tavares Elementary
  • Debbie Ziebart, Tavares High
  • Thomas Valenta, Tavares Middle
  • JulieAnn Feezor, Treadway Elementary
  • Whitney Frazier, Triangle Elementary
  • Wendy Clark, Umatilla Elementary
  • Jaime Adkins, Umatilla High
  • Kerry McLaughlin, Umatilla Middle
  • Tatyana Baty, Villages Elementary
  • Laura Lindsay-Zahn, Windy Hill Middle

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Kindergarteners at Pine Ridge Elementary went “to infinity and beyond” to explore the galaxy during their space week at the beginning of February.

Pine Ridge Elementary SchoolKelly Billon, a space marketing representative for Boeing, helped jump start this exciting week by being a special guest speaker. Billon has had the opportunity to participate in speaking engagements at NASA and has hosted question-and-answer sessions for young learners wanting to know more about space.

She was able to put on a fantastic presentation for the kindergarteners which included captivating space imagery that was taken by NASA, information about the International Space Station (ISS) and what its purpose is, and facts about the new technology and advancements that NASA and the ISS are making.

“Ms. Billon’s enthusiasm and passion for space travel helped to spark student curiosity and provided them with many key details about space,” said Brittany Bohres, Kindergarten Teacher at Pine Ridge Elementary. “The Pine Ridge Elementary School’s kindergarten grade level had a blast soaring to new heights within our cooperative space week and with our spectacular guest speaker.”

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National Elementary Honor Society (NEHS) students at Pine Ridge Elementary collected toys this past week for families in need.

The students collected and wrapped more than 100 gifts. The students are doing their very best to help support the local community and their peers at Pine Ridge Elementary. So far this year this group of students has served veterans refreshments after their performance and collected gifts for underprivileged children. They plan to do a pet food drive for local animal shelters as well as collect items for the children at Arnold Palmer.

“We are very proud of what the students have accomplished so far to service our community and school,” said Sarah Kummet, NEHS adviser at Pine Ridge Elementary.

The NEHS is a student organization designed to recognize outstanding elementary students who demonstrate excellence in scholarship and responsibility. Chapters of NEHS work to develop leadership and promote service to the school and community for their members.

If there is anyone that would like to help with donations for future projects, contact Kummet at Kummets@lake.k12.fl.us.

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