Florida Charter School Champion Awards Honor Winners from Across the State

Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) Honors Multiple Champions at State Conference

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) has honored winners of its 2016 Florida Charter School Champion Awards, which were presented at the recent Florida Charter School Conference in Daytona Beach, Fla. For the fifth consecutive year, FCPCS received nominations in several categories, including charter school governing board members, charter school leaders, charter school teachers, charter school pioneers and charter school preferred partners. Winners received their awards following a special performance by “The Spinners” R & B vocal group.

Here are the Champion Charter School Governing Board Member winners:

Betty Gordon, Governing Board Member, Atlantic Montessori Charter School, Pembroke Pines, Fla. (Broward County) -- After serving as a teacher and media specialist from Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Betty Gordon became a volunteer at Atlantic Montessori Charter School, dedicating hours of her time to mentor new teachers and support the school’s administration.

Terri Roberts, Liza Jackson Preparatory School, Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (Okaloosa County) -- Terri Roberts is the one of the founders of the Liza Jackson Preparatory School, a charter school for at-risk students created in 2001 in memory of her great grandmother, Liza Jackson, a pioneer of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Ms. Roberts has been a champion of the school, supporting it in many ways over the years to help it achieve and maintain its A+ status. Ms. Roberts is Chief Operating Officer of The Rader Group and previously served as the Chief Financial Officer of Okaloosa County School District.

Here are the Champion Charter School Leader winners:

Dina Miller, Somerset Academy Davie, Davie, Fla. (Broward County) -- Dina Miller is the founding principal of Somerset Academy Davie, a Title I charter school that serves low income students. Somerset Academy Davie earned the highest state score among elementary charter schools in Broward County and was the fourth highest scoring elementary school among all Florida public schools. Ms. Miller is known for her warm and caring approach to her students and their families, and for setting high expectations of every student.

Sherry Watts, Minneola Charter Elementary, Minneola, Fla. (Lake County) -- Sherry Watts is Principal of Minneola Charter Elementary School, a conversion charter school rated “A” and located in Minneola. Ms. Watts was nominated by her teaching staff as an “exceptional” and “dynamic” leader who “provides opportunities to enrich students through engaging them on multiple levels. Ms. Watts’ dedication to her students and staff has created an optimum learning environment at her school.

Susan Onori, Imagine Schools Chancellor, Boynton Beach, Fla. (Palm Beach County) -- Susan Onori, Principal of Imagine-Chancellor, an “A” rated K-8 charter school in Boynton Beach, is a long-time educator and advocate for charter schools. She served as the first Charter School Liaison for the Broward County Schools in 1998 and has been active in the movement to encourage more collaboration between districts and charter schools. As Principal of Imagine-Chancellor, she has overseen the growth of the school to more than 1,000 students with a waiting list of more than 500.

Here are the Champion Charter School Teacher winners:

Greg Wickstrom, Pinellas Primary Academy, Largo, Fla. (Pinellas County) -- Music teacher Greg Wickstrom is described by his principal as “beyond a doubt the most amazing educator I've ever encountered.” Mr. Wickstrom is an accomplished jazz musician who finds creative ways to introduce children of all ages to music, and to integrate math and reading into his music lessons. In addition to classroom teaching, Mr. Wickstrom leads after school clubs and a jazz band for students in grades 3-8.

Laura Alois, Burns Science & Technology Charter School, New Smyrna Beach, Fla. (Volusia County) -- First grade teacher Laura Alois is known at Burns Science Technology Charter School in New Smyrna Beach as an “organized, creative ‘wonder’ in the classroom.” She is recognized for her caring spirit and ability to inspire her students and peers. Ms. Alois holds a Master’s Degree in Literacy.

Martha Louizeaux, Ocean Studies Charter School, Tavernier, Fla. (Monroe County) -- Martha Louizeaux has helped her school achieve some of the highest state science scores among Florida elementary schools through her innovative teaching methods at Ocean Studies Charter School in Tavernier. Ms. Louizeaux takes her students outdoors for science lessons in the Florida Keys, where they learn to collect and analyze data. She is a recent recipient of a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for creating an edible garden on the school campus.

Sherri Holland, Hope Charter School, Ocoee, Fla. (Orange County) -- Sherri Holland is a kindergarten teacher at Hope Charter School in Ocoee, which serves a high population of ESE students with autism. Nominated as “an astounding example of excellence,” Ms. Holland’s accomplishments include preparing her students to perform math at a second grade level by the end of Kindergarten, and reading and writing on a 1st grade level. She is also known for mentoring new teachers and working successfully with her students’ parents.

Here are the Champion Charter School Pioneers Award winners:

Anne Corcoran, Classical Preparatory School, Land O’Lakes, Fla. (Pasco County) -- Anne Corcoran, an attorney, helped to found Classical Preparatory School, an “A” rated charter school in Land O’Lakes. She has donated thousands of hours of services to establish and support the school, which provides a traditional classical and liberal arts education to students in grades K-10.

Constance Ortiz, Odyssey Charter Junior/Senior High School, Palm Bay, Fla. (Brevard County) -- Ms. Ortiz founded Odyssey Charter School in 1999 as the first green, healthy, and holistic school in the state of Florida. The school grew into a district of schools at three sites, serving almost 1,500 students. Under Ms. Ortiz’s leadership, the Odyssey Charter Schools have won a National Green Ribbon Schools Award, the Florida Green School award, the Golden Carrot Award from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and numerous other accolades.

Richard Moreno, Building Hope – For more than a decade, Richard Moreno has been known in the charter school movement as the “go-to guy” for generously providing technical assistance with facilities development and financing. His business background and expertise and interest in charter schools have led him to serve as CFO of a major charter school company, Resource Specialist for NCB Capital Impact, and Chairman of the Florida School of Excellence Commission. As the Vice President of the Southern Region of Building Hope, Mr. Moreno now provides comprehensive support services to charter schools in the southern states.

Diane McCain, Board of Governors, Florida Department of Education, Tallahassee, Fla. (Leon County) -- Diane McCain is known to many Floridians as an advocate for victim’s rights and an influential leader in education and criminal justice at the state and federal levels. Diane McCain was also instrumental in supporting the Florida charter school movement in its early days. As Director of the Choice Office in the Department of Education, she provided invaluable advice and encouragement to Florida’s first charter schools. She now serves as External Relations Director for the State University System of Florida Board of Governors.

Here are the Champion Charter School Preferred Partner winners:

Karin Hoffman, Sonshine Educational Tours, Coral Springs, Fla. (Broward County) – Karin Hoffman is vice president of Sonshine Educational Tours, a student educational tour company dedicated to custom designing tours for educators and their students to enhance their curricular objectives. The company has been in the educational tourism industry for more than 30 years and has built long-lasting relationships with hotels, restaurants, parks and museums. The relationships ensure that Sonshine can offer the best tours available to its charter school clients.

Sam Chawkat, Dynamic Network Solutions – Sam Chawkat is owner of Dynamic Network Solutions, a Maryland-based technology solutions firm specializing in technology support, consulting and IT management services for clients that include Florida charter schools. The firm provides services that include onsite or remote support, email status notifications, online status lookup and reporting, business critical hardware and software monitoring, bundled antivirus/antispyware/spam blocker, scheduled software updates and loaner machine program. Dynamic Network Solutions promotes the adoption of IT best practices and innovations and is a premier resource for all technology needs.

Surprise Champion Charter School Visionary Award winner:

Robert Haag, Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools & Charter Schools of Excellence™, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Broward County) -- Robert Haag has been a leader and active participant in the Florida charter school movement since 1997. He is a co-founder and Superintendent of the Charter Schools of Excellence™, a charter school district with four campuses in Broward County. Working with other early charter school operators, Mr. Haag spearheaded the creation of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) in 1997. Under Mr. Haag’s stewardship, FCPCS has grown to become the primary membership organization in the state and one of the most influential charter school associations in the country. Mr. Haag’s special award and recognition at the Charter Champions Event was arranged without his knowledge by the Board of Directors of FCPCS, in combination with its staff and consultants.

About the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools

The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) is the leading charter school membership association in the state, with a membership of nearly 75 percent of all operating charter schools. Since its inception in 1999, FCPCS has been dedicated to creating a national model of high quality, accredited public charter schools that are student-centered and performance-driven. FCPCS provides a wide array of technical support, mentoring, training, networking, and purchasing services to its membership, as well as serving as an advocate for all Florida public charter schools.