Nov. 17, 2022 – With tears in their eyes, two outstanding educators learned this week they had been chosen for two of the district’s highest honors: Principal of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year.
Both Principal Tamara Roper (Joseph Stilwell Academy) and Assistant Principal Vontrena Myers (Oceanway Middle) were each surprised with the news at their respective schools on Wednesday by a posse of district and community leaders including Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene.
“I’m only here because of the incredible staff and faculty that surround this room,” Roper told an auditorium full of cheering staff and students. “That’s why I am here. I didn’t do any of this. All of you have brought out the best in me.”
Myers, who is serving her second year at Oceanway Middle, echoed the sentiment.
Tears streamed down her face as she realized what was happening. She later explained that it was the perseverance of the Oceanway school community that was making her emotional.
“The tears are a reflection of the people who go unsung on a daily basis,” said Myers, emphasizing the teachers who covered classes and the parents who stay engaged with their children’s learning despite working multiple jobs. “I am so thankful to be a display of the hard work that so many people do on a daily basis. Our cafeteria team. Our custodial team. Our front office staff. It takes a village, and I am so fortunate to be a part of that.”
Myers is a 17-year educator with Duval County Public School who began her career with the district as a science teacher at Landmark Middle. She has served as a teacher, specialist, and ESE administrator, and was most recently at Joseph Stilwell Military Academy before joining Oceanway Middle. Her colleagues have credited her with helping transform the school’s culture.
“When Ms. Myers came to Oceanway, the school was in chaos,” wrote Elizabeth Stansel, the school’s principal. “In her role at Oceanway Middle School, she has been pivotal in setting change parameters and then leading teacher teams in implementing changes that have improved student behavior and instructional delivery.”
Myers also received high commendations from her former supervisor and fellow honoree, Roper.
“We can all learn from Vontrena Myers, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to collaborate with her for two years,” wrote Roper in her recommendation letter. “Ms. Myers has an incredible ability to manage tough children, staff, faculty, and parents. It is her superpower.”
For her part, Roper is also celebrated by her community for enhancing student achievement and culture at the schools she has served in which include LaVilla School of the Arts, Mandarin High, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, and Twin Lakes Middle. Her work at Twin Lakes Middle was highlighted by School Board Member Lori Hershey.
“Over a three-year period, Ms. Roper led and inspired teachers to move student achievement which resulted in a 74-point gain in 2018 and for the first time in five years, Twin Lakes Academy Middle School moved from a C to a B!” wrote Hershey in her recommendation letter. “She cultivated a culture that fostered student leaders and emphasized the importance of educating the whole child.”
Regional superintendent of middle schools, Dr. Denise Hall, wrote how Roper – who is a veteran – uses her military background to help create a culture of student leadership.
“She applies her West Point training by setting a clear vision for her cadets and instructional cadre and creates a means for them to achieve it,” wrote Hall. “She is conscientious and forthright when dealing with her school community, allowing them to be the best version of themselves as possible.”
With their selection as the district’s Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year, Roper and Myers will both go on to represent Duval at the state level.
Both Roper and Myers were selected among other stellar finalists in their categories. The list is below.
Principal of the Year finalists:
- Kathleen Adkins, Rutledge Pearson Elementary School
- Traci Battest, Edward H. White High School
- Stephanie Brannan, John Stockton Elementary
- Marianne Lee, Chimney Lakes Elementary
Assistant Principal of the Year finalists:
- Elisha Carr, Crown Point Elementary
- Robyn Cooper, Rutledge Pearson Elementary
- Dr. Jerome Mosley, Mattie V. Rutherford
- Shaakera Thomas, Don Brewer Elementary
Each will be recognized at the upcoming regular Board meeting in December.