Q: Can you address teacher vacancies in St. Johns County?
A: Several factors have contributed to this, including pay. We also know the last couple of years have been particularly difficult and challenging for teachers. We are dealing with a more than 7 percent growth rate in our county. We have the new BEST standards and associated new curriculum. Also, students have been in and out of school and we need to reteach them information they might have missed. All of this is coupled with a 35 percent reduction of people entering the education field.

We are looking for additional ways to support our teachers and continue to take any responsibilities that we can off their plate. Support organizations such as INK! are also pitching in to help. I’ve heard about adopt-a-teacher programs in other counties and I want to investigate something like that as a way of letting our teachers know how much they are appreciated. We are also being creative — where they can, principals are taking full time positions and splitting them into two part time positions in an effort to attract educators who might prefer such a position. If you are interested in this, please contact the principal at your local school and let them know.

Q: How have the first several weeks of school been going?
A: I think there has been a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm across the district for a more normalized school year. Students are happy to be back in school.

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Q: What can you tell us about the recent Victory with Honor recipients recognized by the school board?

A: Eight St. Johns County coaches were recognized at our mid-September school board meeting with the Jeff Holt Coach of the Year Award for Pursuing Victory With Honor. This award is named for the late Jeff Holt, an incredible educator, coach and dear friend throughout the school district. Mr. Holt was someone who epitomized what Pursuing Victory With Honor stood for and was a leader in the classroom as well as in athletics. He made coaches around him better and helped students capture the life lessons gained from participating in athletics. He was a true mentor to many current and past coaches and administrators. Regardless of the outcome of a game, Jeff Holt always kept his athletes focused on how special it is to be a student-athlete and the positive impact they can have on campus and in the community. Congratulations to the following coaches:

David Frank, Bartram Trail High School cross country/track; Lenny Roger, Creekside High School boys’ volleyball; Lou Argitis, Pedro Menendez High School boys’ lacrosse; Collin Drafts, Allen D. Nease High School football; Rob Circelli, Ponte Vedra High School boys’ and girls’ cross country; Shannon Content, St. Augustine High School girls’ lacrosse; Casey O’Linn, St. Joseph Academy boys’ soccer; and Jay Shepherd, Tocoi Creek High School girls’ soccer.

Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 4?
A: The parents advisory group for our ESE students will hold its first virtual parent meeting on Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. The topic will be “Connecting families to community resources” and 14 agencies across St. Johns County will be featured. Contact Avery Greene, ESE Program Specialist at (904) 547-7557 if you would like to participate.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate the following students who were selected as National Merit Semifinalists. From Allen D. Nease High School: Evian Berg, Christy Shao, Sofia Pantano, Tabitha Gottipati, Anika Kapil, Daniel Evans, Parker Stamschror, Ricky Zhang, Rohit Siddi, Aryaman Bansal, Logan Diachun, Miles Moerman, Abbhinav Sriram, Mihir Kumar, Rich Nguyen, Nag Puli, Ethan Bhula and Calkin Garg. From Ponte Vedra High School: Justin Bonn, Michael Bradshaw, Adam Chaker, John Chigounis, John Deutch, Emily Dorairaj, Ian Dowling, Nicolo Fasanelli, Archie Jenkins, Megan Landis, Mackenzie Leverock, Andrew Liu, Mary Reynolds, Chloe Simon, Lucille Sinavsky and Benjamin Wainer.

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.F

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