District announces POY and APOY finalists
Posted on 09/26/2020
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Orange County Public Schools is excited to reveal the six school-based leaders who are making a difference in their schools and communities. The winners will be announced in January at a virtual awards ceremony. The finalists are: 

Principal of the Year finalists

Jennifer Bellinger headshotJennifer Bellinger, Oak Ridge High – Ms. Bellinger uses a winner’s attitude to implement change throughout her school. She decreased teacher attrition, increased student achievement and moved the school from a D to B in two years. The implementation of progress monitoring systems, teacher development and leadership development helped the school achieve success in the classroom, athletics and parent engagement. 

Seth Daub headshotSeth Daub, Catalina Elementary – Mr. Daub’s focus on data-driven instruction moved Catalina’s school grade from a D to a C. He strives to consistently and authentically engage with those he serves, including students, teachers, staff members, families and the community. Mr. Daub is the Florida Association of School Administrators’ president for the 2020-21 school year, further proving he has a servant’s mindset.

Aleli Vazquez headshotAleli Vazquez, Meadow Woods Elementary – Ms. Vazquez focuses on building teacher capacity. She models and inspires teachers to try new things, take risks, and be creative and dynamic. She’s provided strategic professional development and equipped staff with strategies to design calm, inviting classrooms. Ms. Vazquez’s investment in human capital and trauma-informed learning increased staff morale and academic performance. 

Assistant Principal of the Year finalists 
Derek Knappins headshotDerek Knappins, Endeavor Elementary - Mr. Knappins is known as a leader for learning. His passion focuses on teacher support and its ability to increase student achievement. He works to assist teachers in fine-tuning their craft with the goal of helping every student find success. He builds relationships and rapport with families, which was instrumental in the academic success of Shingle Creek Elementary School’s students. 
Mr. Knappins was recently promoted to principal at Endeavor Elementary. 

Melanie Simmons headshotMelanie Simmons, Ivey Lane Elementary – Ms. Simmons instituted systems and structures within the areas of daily operations, behavior and academics, and simultaneously, worked to empower and train teachers. Through implementing CHAMPS, a schoolwide discipline program, the school increased attendance and improved behaviors. Coaching faculty members to embrace their craft helped increase learning gains, as well as individual and school pride. 

Rebecca Yedvobnick headshotRebecca Yedvobnick, Ridgewood Park Elementary – Ms. Yedvobnick’s leadership occurs in the trenches with teachers and students. By building capacity within teachers and coaches, and collaboration around coaching cycles, data collection and data displays created conditions for teachers to reflect and make instructional shifts needed for learning gains. The increased learning gains have proven the effectiveness. Ms. Yedvobnick also started a Tiger Pantry to help feed their families on the weekends. 

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