Q: What is the most timely topic in the school district?
A: It’s academy application time. On Jan. 9, we had our Program of Choice Showcase at World Golf Village. More than 3,000 students and family members attended. I’d like to give a shout out to Nease Communications Academy student Joseph Faranda, who designed the program cover for this year’s event.

The deadline for applications to all academies, including IB, ROTC, AICE and Murray Middle School of the Arts, is Feb. 3. Each school will have its own academy open house night as well; check the school district website (www.stjohns.k12.fl.us) for dates and times.

Q: Do you have any STEM updates?

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A: The district continues to be amazed at what our students who have participated in the Mayo Clinic’s SPARK program have accomplished. Students are paired with mentors to work on science projects. Mayo gives these students the opportunity for real world learning; as a school district we are continually seeking ways to give students such opportunities to learn, demonstrate, and do.

Also, on Jan. 11 I attended the STEM Fair at Picolata Elementary School. The students were so well versed and so knowledgeable and confident. Children tend to look at things with a different perspective and this inspires me.

Q: Do you have anything to report from the most recent school board meeting?
A: At our meeting in mid-January, we recognized the Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year nominees. We also recognized our Spelling Bee winner, Manischa Wijayawardhana, who was a repeat winner from last year. Her sister, Himaschi Wijayawardhana was the runner up. The winner will represent us at the regional competition at Jacksonville University on Feb. 27.

Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 4?
A: This year is a textbook adoption year for world languages and career and technical education. We have committees formed which include teachers, parents and subject matter experts to review these textbooks. If anyone has questions or feedback they would like considered, more information is available on the school district website.

Q: What events are upcoming?
A: We have a busy month ahead. The Character Counts! run/walk will be held on Feb. 1. The Science Fair awards will be held on Feb. 6, the History Fair will be held on March 5 and the county Art Show will be held on March 6. 

We have a couple of interesting presentations coming up that are open to the public. Both are at Palencia Elementary School. On Feb. 6, Dr. Craig Davis will present “Leveraging your child’s neuroplasticity for deep work” at 6 p.m. This is very thought provoking and will include useful tips for parents. On Feb. 19, cybercrime consultant Susan Wind will present “Cybersecurity and Social Media,” another important topic which parents need to learn about.

Q: How can our readers contact you?
A: They can email me at kelly.barrera@stjohns.k12.fl.us or call me at (904) 547-7510.


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