The Sarasota County School Board kicked off 2014 with its first board meeting of the new year Tuesday, taking time to highlight an area elementary school and its principal for their outstanding achievements.
The board honored the recent ranking of Alta Vista Elementary School among the state's top 20 Title I schools, as well as the recent selection of Alta Vista's principal, Dr. Barbara Shirley, as one of the three finalists for the Florida Principal Award for Outstanding Leadership.
Shirley received a standing ovation from a contingent of Alta Vista parents and teachers attending the meeting.
"We never think about honor or recognition when we do our work," Shirley said. "We do it because it is the right thing to do for the children."
Shirley has been principal of Alta Vista Elementary since July 2007 and has worked for the Sarasota County School District since 1993.
Alta Vista Elementary has maintained an “A” rating during Shirley’s tenure as principal. It is designated as a Five-Star School, a distinction that recognizes schools with high levels of family and community involvement.
The East Coast Technical Assistance Center (ECTAC), a network of 36 school districts across Florida, named Alta Vista Elementary School as one of Florida’s top 20 Title I schools (out of 1,243 statewide) based on improving student achievement.
Title I schools have a high percentage of students living in poverty; more than 90% of Alta Vista students receive free or reduced-cost meals. The school was praised for “exceeding expectations on academic indicators when compared to other schools with similar characteristic and populations.”
The Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership was established in 1988 to recognize Florida school leaders for notable contributions to their schools and communities.
Each district is allowed to nominate one principal for the award. John Zoretich, executive director of elementary schools, said it was the first time a principal from Sarasota County had been selected as one of the state’s three finalists. The winner will be announced Feb. 3.
“No matter who wins in February, we already know who the best principal in the state is,” Zoretich said.
Contact Nolan Peterson at [email protected]