Pinellas school news: District cites improvement on SAT, announces Support Employee of the Year semifinalists

Published Nov. 18, 2015

Pinellas students out-score state, national peers on SAT

Pinellas County students' average SAT scores surpassed the state and national averages in all three subjects of critical reading, math and writing with 508, 499 and 485, respectively, according to 2014-15 data released by the College Board, the nonprofit that administers the SAT and Advanced Placement exams. District officials called attention to the numbers for minority students, whose participation in the SAT also rose, with an increase of 6.7 percent of black test takers and 14.9 percent of Hispanic test takers. Black students in Pinellas averaged a critical reading score of 429, exceeding black student averages statewide and nationally, but fell behind in math. They also outscored their peers across the state in writing. Meanwhile, Hispanic students' average score outpaced Hispanic averages at the state and national level in all three subjects.

Journalism programs win top national honors

The Spartan News Network at Lakewood High School and the JHop Times at John Hopkins Middle School have received Pacemaker Awards from the National Scholastic Press Association, the highest recognition for middle and high school journalism. Each program has won the award before, but this is the first time both have taken the prize in the same year. Both programs, in addition to the journalism program at Melrose Elementary, are supported in part by the Tampa Bay Times in cooperation with Pinellas County Schools.

District honors support employees

The Pinellas County school system has named the semifinalists in its 2015-16 Support Employee of the Year recognition program. The employees were selected from 100 nominees and chosen in six categories as follows:

Classroom Support: Eva Cano-Fernandez, bilingual assistant, Seventy-Fourth Street Elementary; Erik Lucero, teacher assistant, Sandy Lane Elementary; Haydee Marrero-Valdes, ESE associate, Boca Ciega High.

Clerical: Paula Melton, senior data management technician, St. Petersburg High School; Valerie Jones, library media assistant, Jamerson Elementary; Shirley Whiting, secretary, Morgan Fitzgerald Middle.

Food Service: Tammy Endicott, food service assistant, Ridgecrest Elementary; Linda Folts, food service manager, Clearwater Fundamental Middle; Michelle Ondick, food service assistant, Cross Bayou Elementary.

Maintenance/Safety/Health: Caleb Alfred, pool technician, Clearwater High; Gerald Niles, police officer, Sanders Exceptional.

Plant Operations: Cornelia Ali, plant operator, Calvin Hunsinger ESE Center; James Hingley, night foreman, Starkey Elementary; Jeffrey Redett, head plant operator, Ponce de Leon Elementary.

Transportation: Barbara Gieselman, bus driver; Marlene Saari, bus service recorder.

A top winner will be announced in each category today, and those six finalists will be eligible to win the Support Employee of the Year award to be announced Jan. 4.

Times staff