Q: Can you give an update on the new K-8 School MM? 

A: We had the topping out ceremony today [Nov. 17], which we have when the last girder is put on the building. We are excited about the recent announcement of Amanda Riedl as principal of the school. She was the 2018 – 19 Outstanding Principal of the Year for St. Johns County. She will locate at Palm Valley Academy after Thanksgiving to begin her new duties. I think she is a wonderful addition to District 4. I’d also like to congratulate Brian Morgan, assistant principal at Ocean Palms Elementary, who has been named principal of Picolata Crossing Elementary as part of the principal shifting due to Amanda Riedl’s departure from her previous school.

Q: What is the process for the naming and mascot selection of K-8 School MM?
A: It will be very similar to what we have seen recently with High School HHH. There will start to be more activity as Amanda Riedl starts meeting students, teachers and staff at Palm Valley Academy. We will be starting to hire new staff and teachers for this new school although we will also incorporate existing employees. I’d expect to see virtual meetings scheduled soon so she can hear about the community’s priorities for K-8 School MM and begin to develop the new school’s culture. It always seems that once a principal is named, it goes from being just a building to being a school and a place of educational excellence. 

Q: Do you have an update for the future of school-based distance learning?
A: We are waiting to see what the governor and commissioner of education put before us for next semester options. I’d expect that we will be hearing something soon.

Q: Are there any important upcoming dates for families to be aware of?
A: Yes, I’d like to talk about academies and deadlines. Starting Jan. 5, 2021, Middle School Blitzes will be held at each middle school. On Jan. 8, online applications will open on the school district website. We will host a virtual High School Showcase on Jan. 12 from 3:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Finally, the deadline for all applications will be 5 p.m. on Feb. 5. All programs of choice, including academies, IB, AICE, and JROTC programs are included.

Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 4?

A: I’d like to congratulate the National Merit Semifinalists from our district. From Nease High School — Laura Harrington, Sreenivas Kuntamukkala, Dylan Lukacsa, Colby Millis, Zachary Plevin, Carson Sobolewski, and Sreeniketh Vogoti. From Ponte Vedra High School — Sophia Chigounis, Finnur Christianson, Christina D’Aquila, Reese Jett, Ashton Monk, Matthew Shen, and Shuangyi Shi.

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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