Finalist for Assistant Principal of the Year from Coral Springs School

By: Sharon Aron Baron

Broward County Public Schools have just announced six finalists for the District’s 2016 Assistant Principal of the Year and one of them is from a Coral Springs school.

Forest Glen Middle School Assistant Principal Andre L. Ponder has just been named as one of the six finalists. According to the release, Ponder, who is known for his energy, enthusiasm, and dependability is a team player who leads by example making customer service a priority.

Ponder was selected because he is sensitive to the needs of others, often counseling students – even reaching into his own pocket to pay for a student’s meal or extracurricular activity. He has initiated a variety of programs to enhance student achievement, such as an annual Career Day event, bringing parents and community partners from many backgrounds together with students. He also instituted Mentoring Mondays to inspire underachieving adolescent males, Necktie 2sDays to encourage improved behavior, and the “Caught Being Good” program to reward positive behavior. Ponder goes beyond job requirements to nurture positive relationships and help his students and colleagues.

Being a finalist is no easy task. First, nominations are submitted from schools, staff, students, parents and/or community members for the Assistant Principal of the Year. Next, the nominees are invited to complete application packets. During the final stage, a District screening committee reviews the application packets and interviews the top six candidates. The assistant principal with the highest combined application and interview scores is selected as the Assistant Principal of the Year.

Here are the other five finalists for 2016 Assistant Principal of the Year:

Annette Johnson, Assistant Principal, Sheridan Technical College 

Annette Johnson manages programs for General Education Diplomas (GED), Adult Basic Education, practical nursing, surgical technology, patient care, medical coding and billing, phlebotomy, culinary arts, and more at Sheridan Technical College. She is responsible for monitoring the curriculum for 55 programs serving 3,000 students across three technical college campuses. A highlight of Johnson’s tenure at Sheridan was the opportunity to oversee its transition from a Technical Center to Sheridan Technical College. Reflecting on her works with students from ages 16 to 70, who come from all levels of education and skills, Johnson says she is “humbled and amazed by what people can achieve if we just give them a chance.”

Wendolynn F. Mola, Assistant Principal, West Broward High School

Wendolynn F. Mola became assistant principal at West Broward High School during the school’s inaugural year in 2008. At that time, the challenge was to establish a home/school environment for students and families transitioning to West Broward High, particularly those reluctant about the new school. Mola focused on empowering teachers with the resources needed for project-based and student-centered learning, and encouraging school staff to try new educational strategies. West Broward High is now a community hub for families, and enrollment has grown to nearly 2,700 students. Under Mola’s leadership as senior class administrator, West Broward High’s graduation rate averages 96 percent, with at least a quarter of graduates earning an industry certification, in addition to a high school diploma.

Monica Schlosser, Assistant Principal, Davie Elementary School

Monica Schlosser greets students and parents as they arrive each morning, and talks with students during the day about their academic and social progress. She is thrilled to have come full circle at Davie Elementary School, which she attended as a child and now serves as assistant principal. During her tenure, Schlosser created the Davie Rewards Card Program, an incentive program that rewards parents with participation points redeemable for prizes donated by community partners. Through her leadership, partnerships and parental involvement has doubled. In addition, successful grant proposals have exceeded more than $30,000 for technology and other classroom improvements. Her strengths in curriculum and Exceptional Student Education, as well as her dynamic leadership style, helped Davie Elementary to improve its state letter grade from a “C” to an “A” in 2015.

Jacqueline A. Smith, Assistant Principal, Hollywood Hills High School

As an assistant principal at Hollywood Hills High School, Jacqueline Smith is involved with all aspects of school operations, including instructional leadership, data analysis and professional development. A skilled and empathetic leader, Smith developed school wide reading strategies with Spartan Reads, a program designed to infuse reading into elective and other content areas, and was instrumental in establishing the Spartan Academy to provide extended learning opportunities for students in key academic areas. Her work with the youth advisory board and Hispanic Unity in 2015 led to a $100,000 grant from State Farm to implement an afterschool program to help students prepare for college. Since joining Hollywood Hills High, student achievement has increased in reading, math and science, as well as on Advanced Placement exams.

Nichele Williams, Assistant Principal, Tradewinds Elementary School

Prior to becoming assistant principal at Tradewinds Elementary School, Nichele Williams was assistant principal at Silver Lakes Middle School from 2007 to 2015, where she introduced changes that increased community involvement and developed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum to increase student achievement. In addition, Williams initiated enrichment camps in science and writing, educational programs for parents, and service projects featuring the Glee Club to foster community involvement. In October 2015, Nichele Williams joined Tradewinds Elementary, and implemented a highly successful STEM family night and a week of computer coding activities for all students, including students in pre-kindergarten and the autism cluster. Williams has been commended for the quality of her planning and preparation, as well as for her positive attitude and dedication to her students.

Congratulations to six exceptional school leaders for being named finalists. These leaders are all recognized for providing inspiration to their schools and communities, and for their commitment to helping students succeed. The winner will be announced during the Centennial Caliber Awards recognizing outstanding employees on Friday, April 1, 2016, at 6 p.m., at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

The Centennial Caliber Awards presenting and title sponsor is BrightStar Credit Union. Also supporting the Centennial Caliber Awards are: (Platinum Sponsor) Bank of America; (Gold Sponsor) After School Programs, Inc.; (Silver Sponsors) Pearson and Sunshine Child Care; (Copper Sponsors) Grand Canyon University and JC White; and (Bronze Sponsor) Catapult Learning.

Author Profile

Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron
Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views, and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs and the rest of South Florida.

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