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Sarasota County Schools announces Principal of the Year

Brentwood Elementary School's John Weida is the Principal of the Year and Booker High's Merlin Schenk is the Assistant Principal of the Year.

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  • | 4:02 p.m. October 11, 2019
  • Sarasota
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Sarasota County Schools named Brentwood Elementary's John Weida as its 2020 Principal of the Year and Booker High's Merlin Schenk as its 2020 Assistant Principal of the Year Friday. 

Weida has has been an educator for 34 years. Before becoming principal at Brentwood, he was an assistant principal at Booker Middle School and North Port High School where he oversaw curriculum development and training. He also served as an exceptional-student-education liaison, behavior teacher and exceptional-student-education teacher. 

The award came after Brentwood was awarded an A grade. 

“I am humbled and truly honored,” Weida said in a statement. “I have a genuine desire to see all of my students, teachers and staff members succeed. Brentwood Elementary School is a wonderful school community, and I would not be able to help shepherd our talented students without the support of my incredible teachers and staff."  

Schenk has spent his 15-year educational career with Sarasota County Schools. Before assuming his role as assistant principal at Booker High, Merlin served as an assistant principal at Sarasota High School, where he oversaw the school's Cambridge AICE program. He also was a mathematics teacher at Sarasota High, where he received the school’s Teacher of the Year award in 2010.

“I am honored and deeply pleased to receive this award,” Schenk said. “I greatly enjoy my role as a leader at Booker High School, and am thankful to have the support and encouragement from a spectacular team of professionals. We are all passionate about the growth and wellbeing of our students, and that focus is modeled in every facet or our school." 

Weida and Schenk are now in the running for Principal of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year at the state level. 

The Florida Department of Education Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran, will announce three state-level finalists for each award at the Commissioner’s Summit for Principals in the spring. The winner of each award will be revealed in summer 2020 at the FLDOE Celebration For School Leaders.

Sarasota County Schools has received two prior Florida Principal of the Year awards. Alta Vista Elementary’s Barbara Shirley received the award in 2014 and Booker High School’s Rachel Shelley received the award in 2017.


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