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New faces and new positions for a new school year

When the first bell rings at the start of school on Monday, August 18, Wakulla County classrooms will be staffed with veteran and novice educators. Our high performing teachers, coaches and staff are eager to kick off the school year in an excellent district. Superintendent Bobby Pearce noted, “Wakulla enjoys the reputation of being a premier school district. It is the quality of work with our students, parents and community that has created this well-deserved reputation. Our team spirit and dedication to Wakulla’s students continue to be our driving force. It is great to be celebrating the new school year and the promise of possibility.”


Chief Human Capital Officer Karen Wells adds, “We continually attract strong qualified applicants. New applicants cite the warm welcoming culture of Wakulla as a main attractor as well as the opportunity to join a great school system. Our way of life coupled with Wakulla’s high performing status and desire to serve continue to entice outstanding applicants.”


Thirty-four new teachers have been hired to date for the 2014-2015 school year as a result of retirements, relocations, and resignations. While most teachers hired are from Florida, nineteen percent of our new hires were out of state transfers. Eighty-one percent of the new hires own a home or land in Wakulla County and 50% have children who will be attending our schools. Beyond the new hires, the district has had multiple instructional volunteer transfers; Pre-K teachers to elementary; elementary to middle school; middle school to high school. Superintendent Pearce adds, “Wakulla teachers are to be commended for their commitment to the system at every level. They master their craft and seek new challenges, so we want to support them by providing opportunities. As teachers transfer to new positions or new schools they bring new energy and strengthen continuity across the entire school system.”


“Changes in the administrative line-up have also occurred this summer,” shared Wells. Wakulla Middle School welcomes Rick Myhre as their new principal and Wakulla High School welcomes Mike Barwick. Laura Kelley has assumed the helm at Wakulla Pre-K as interim principal. Kim Dutton transferred to Medart Elementary School as Principal and is excitedly working with her Assistant Principal Belinda McElroy. Mike Crouch has taken the headship role at the Sopchoppy Education Center while Dod Walker has transferred to the District Office as a Director overseeing Adult Education, Drop-out Prevention and Athletic Programs.


New Deans of Students were selected at Crawfordville Elementary School and Wakulla Middle School. Frankie Harvey has been selected to assume the Dean of Students position at Crawfordville Elementary and Amy Bryan has been selected for Wakulla Middle School. Katherine Spivey has hit the ground running this summer as the new Dean of Instruction at the District Office. Vicki Tillman has also been appointed as the Assistant Principal at Riversink Elementary, replacing Melinda Young who will retire December 2014 and Louis Hernandez has been appointed as the Riversprings Middle School Assistant Principal.


Superintendent Pearce adds, “We have great expectations for our new appointments. Our selections bring experience, leadership training and new energy to the positions.”


The Summer New Educator Boot Camp, facilitated by veteran teacher Catherine Cutchen and IT Director Belinda Fries, helped acclimate and acculturate new Wakulla educators. Topics included Florida’s Educator Accomplished Practices, classroom management, ethics, the first day of school, lesson planning, technology, constructive criticism and instructional strategies.


A quick glimpse at the new teachers by school site follows:


Crawfordville Elementary School

·         Amber Allen (Third grade teacher) Hometown: Crawfordville, FL. Graduate of Flagler College. Enjoys being outdoors, spending time with family and playing softball and volleyball. “I am excited to work with the Cougar team and give back to students the wonderful educational experience I received from Wakulla teachers when I was a student.”

·         Joanne English (Time-limited primary teacher) – Hometown: Akron, Ohio Graduate of University of Akron. Enjoys crafts and reading. “I’m looking forward to meeting the students and working with the staff.”

·         Carrie Riley (Time-limited primary teacher) – Hometown: Tallahassee, FL Graduate of Flagler College. Enjoys camping and antiquing. “Wakulla is the best school district in Florida.”

·         Brittani Williams (Fifth grade teacher) - Hometown: Lakeland, FL. Graduate of Florida Southern College with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Ed/Pre-K Primary. Enjoys shopping, going to the beach and spending time with her husband Brooks and two children, Caden and Madison. “I am most excited about being part of the Cougar family.”

Medart Elementary School

·         Heather Davis (Kindergarten teacher) Hometown: Wakulla County. Graduated FSU with a Master’s degree in elementary education. Enjoys painting, movies, and watching FSU football. “I’m looking forward to teaching kindergarten. I have taught first grade for two years and am ready for a new adventure.”

·         Hayley Klees (Fifth grade teacher) - Hometown: Tallahassee, FL. Graduate of Methodist University with a BS degree in Elementary Education. Enjoys playing volleyball, going to the beach and shopping. “Working in a close-knit community and meeting my students is very exciting.”

Riversink Elementary School                     

·         Lisa Collins (ESE Teacher) Hometown: Hollywood, FL FSU graduate with a BS degree in Early Childhood Education. Enjoys reading, outdoor activities, sports, Friday night movie night and time with my family. “Becoming a part of the Wakulla County Schools family, building and developing relationships, getting ready for my students and setting up my classroom energize my summer.”

·         Ashlee Guess (Fifth grade Teacher) – Hometown: Miami, FL. Received a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Sciences and a Master’s degree in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. “My husband is a teacher and coach at Wakulla High School and we both wanted to be a part of this community.”

·         Charlotte Irons (First grade Teacher) – Hometown: Crete, Nebraska. Received Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Chadron State College in Nebraska. Enjoys reading, SCUBA diving and swimming. Charlotte and her husband, Colin opened the Cave Connections Dive Shop in Crawfordville. “I am looking forward to creating a fun learning environment for my new first grade friends.”

·         Mari Kimbrel (ESE Resource Teacher)Hometown: Tallahassee, FL Graduate of Flagler College with degrees in Elementary Education and ESE. Enjoys swimming and spending time with family and friends. Her husband and two kids just moved into a house they built one mile from the school. “I am eager to make a difference in the lives of students that I come in contact with.”

·         Nicole Lawhon (Primary EBD teacher) - Hometown: Tallahassee, FL. Graduate of Flagler College Enjoys co-ed softball, singing and cheering for FSU football and baseball. “Wakulla is an amazing district and I want to be a part of it.”

·         Laura Taff (Elementary teacher) Hometown: Arran, Florida. Graduate of FSU with a Master’s in Art History. Enjoys reading, camping, hiking, kayaking and spending time with family and friends. “I am most excited about collaborating with a high caliber team of professional educators.

Shadeville Elementary School

·         Carrie Beard (First grade teacher) - Hometown: Crawfordville, FL. Graduate of Flagler College. Enjoys reading, cooking, crafting and spending time with family. “I loved being a part of the Wakulla County School District as a child myself. I couldn’t wait to be a teacher in my community. I am so excited to meet and get to know my first graders.”

·         Pamela Ward (ESE Self-contained) Hometown: Tallahassee, FL. Graduate of Flagler College. “I cannot wait to see my students’ faces as they enter my room for the first time.”

Riversprings Middle School

·         Tyler Jarvis (ESE Teacher) Hometown: Crawfordville, FL. Flagler College graduate. Enjoys football, baseball and Special Olympics. “I am very excited to finally have a classroom that I can call mine and to be a teacher in the best school district in the State.”

·         Zach Klees (Eighth grade Teacher) Hometown: Tallahassee, FL. Graduate of Methodist University with degrees in Health and PE. Enjoys traveling and football. “It is thrilling to be a part of a great community that welcomes everyone. I can’t wait to teaching my students all that I know about US History.”

·         James Rozar [JIMBO] (PE Teacher) – Hometown: Crawfordville. Graduated from the Georgia Military College and Florida A & M. Enjoys hunting, fishing and football. “I am most excited about getting my classroom set up and meeting my new students.”

·         Alane West (ESE Teacher) Hometown: Tallahassee, Graduated from FSU with a BS in Biology and Psychology. Enjoys reading, banking and going to the beach. “I’m excited about working with such a great group of teachers, administrators and staff at Riversprings.”

Wakulla High School

·         Angela Anderson (Foreign Language) Hometown: Albany, GA, Graduate of Valdosta State and Thomas University. Enjoys swimming, yoga and crossfit. “After moving to St. Marks, I decided this is where I wanted to stay and teach. I am excited to meet the students.”

·         Roscoe Grant (Welding) Hometown: Crawfordville, FL Graduated from Tallahassee Community College. Enjoys hunting and fishing and living in the greatest county on Earth. “I’m looking forward to meeting all of my students.”

·         Courtney Flack (Math Teacher) Hometown: Tallahassee, FL Received a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Master’s degree in Math Education. Enjoys FSU football games and flag football. “I am most excited about becoming a part of this community.”

·         Heidi Montgomery (Chemistry Teacher) Hometown: Apalachicola, FL Received a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition form the Colorado State University. Enjoys hiking, biking and reading. “I am most excited about meeting the WHS students.”

·         Jade Ramsey (English) Hometown Lufkin, Texas. Graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University and Bowling Green State with Bachelor and Master degrees. Enjoys poetry, music reading and buying shoes. “I chose Wakulla County because of the great reputation for learning already established here.”

·         Sonja Townsend (ESE Teacher) Hometown: Palm Bay, FL. Received her bachelor’s and master’s degree from FSU in Special Education. Enjoys softball, fishing, and kayaking. “I have heard nothing but positive things about Wakulla School District and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I’m excited about meeting my students and getting started.”

·         Charlie Wilkinson (ESE Coordinator) Hometown: Alligator Point Bachelor and Master degrees in linguistics and exceptional student education. Enjoys writing and playing music. “Excited to join the War Eagle family.”

·         Kate Zurst (Music Teacher) – Hometown: Kearney, Nebraska.  Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from in music education from the University of Texas. Enjoys cooking and church choir. “This is a great opportunity for me to become a part of a successful team. I’m looking forward to meeting the students and faculty and to build a choral program.”


Wakulla Middle School

·         Michael Curtis (7th grade teacher) Hometown: Jacksonville, FL. Graduated from Wayland Baptist University. “I am most excited about meeting the students and taking the steps towards their success in middle school.”

·         Hubert Innis (8th grade science) Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL. Graduated from FAMU. Enjoys sports. “I interned at Riversink and quickly learned to love Wakulla County.”

·         Lesley Jamison (7th grade teacher) Hometown: Carlisle, Kentucky Bachelors of Art degree in English from the Eastern Kentucky University. Enjoys writing, reading, going to the beach and playing tennis. “I have heard awesome things about Wakulla schools and am excited about meeting my new students.”

·         Brandy [Nikki] Lawhon (7th grade teacher) – Hometown: Tallahassee, FL. Graduate of Flagler College. Enjoys hunting, fishing and writing music. “I love Wakulla County and I can’t wait to meet my students.”


·         Bree Lovel (7th grade teacher) Hometown: Tallahassee. An FSU gradate with a BS degree in psychology and child development. Enjoys theatre, cooking, gardening and film. “I choose to work in Wakulla County because the schools are among the best and this is my home.”

·         Tanya Shivers (7th grade teacher) Hometown: Tallahassee, FL Lives on St. George Island. Graduate of FSU with a Master’s degree from the University of West Florida. Enjoys camping, fishing, boating and reading a good book. “I choose Wakulla County because it is an “A” District. I am excited to be working with fellow educators that share my passion for education.”

·         Rachel Vega (Music/Band Teacher) Hometown: Niceville, FL FSU Graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. Enjoys performing on her clarinet for local musicals. . “Academics are a high priority in Wakulla County with plenty of extra-curricular activities for students. I am so excited to meet my students. I have heard wonderful things about them, and I cannot wait to start teaching them music.”