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Sarasota County Schools Announces 2019 Principal of the Year and 2019 Assistant Principal of the Year

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2019 Principal of the Year2019 Assistant Principal of the Year

SARASOTA COUNTY, November 15, 2018 – Sarasota County Schools is pleased to announce that Booker Middle School’s Dr. LaShawn Frost is the 2019 Principal of the Year, and Riverview High School’s Kathy Wilks is the 2019 Assistant Principal of the Year. Both recipients were surprised with balloons and flowers at their respective campuses by fellow school and district administrators.

“Sarasota County Schools prides itself on having home-grown, strong leadership,” noted Todd Bowden, superintendent of Sarasota County Schools. “LaShawn Frost and Kathy Wilks exemplify the high standards we expect from all our school leaders. Dr. Frost and Mrs. Wilks have each been instrumental to the various schools they have served during their respective tenures within the district. We want our principals and assistant principals to thrive, and inspire their teachers and staff to always pursue professional development. Opportunities are readily available in a variety of growth tracks throughout the district and we continually look to elevate and retain talented educators. This continuity of stellar leadership enhances our students’ learning experiences and further solidifies our district’s reputation as a pacesetter for educational achievement.”

“We are fortunate to have an incredible group of administrators leading our school communities in Sarasota County,” said Dr. Laura Kingsley, assistant superintendent and chief academic officer of Sarasota County Schools. “Both Dr. Frost and Mrs. Wilks personify dedication and commitment to their students, parents and staff. It is rare to find school leaders with their loyalty and drive. Both LaShawn and Kathy have each made great strides this year, championing for their schools and upholding our district’s pledge to provide exemplary academic, emotional and civic growth to every student, every day. I could not be more proud to have them represent Sarasota County Schools.”

“I am honored and filled with gratitude,” commented Frost. “I do not consider what I do a job, I think of it as a calling. I love witnessing student success at Booker Middle School every day, and that is largely due to my fantastic teachers and staff. It is a privilege to lead such a strong team – our students know they are special and valued, and that comes from the example my teachers and staff set. I will always strive to deliver the very best opportunities for our school community. This award comes after a year of much success, including Booker Middle being named a College For Every Student (CFES) Brilliant Pathways School of Distinction. I am excited to see what the year ahead has in store.”

Dr. Frost has been an educator for over 15 years. LaShawn received two Bachelor Degrees from Florida State University, a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Norwich University, a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida and a Doctorate in Counseling and Leadership from Cornerstone University. She is an alumna of the “Art of Leadership” Institute at Harvard University, an immersive educational experience that helped to foster her appreciation for and understanding of the complexities of leading in 21st century schools. Before assuming her role as principal of Booker Middle School, LaShawn served as an assistant principal at both Booker Middle School and Venice High School, where she oversaw curriculum, master scheduling, Small Learning Communities, professional development and other critical aspects of the learning environment. Dr. Frost has notably received the Freedom Education Award from the NAACP, the Outstanding Educator Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Community Leader Award from Rotary Club of Sarasota, the Community Impact Award from The Junior League of Sarasota, the She Knows Where She’s Going Award from Girls Inc. of Sarasota County and the BIZ 941 Women to Follow Award from Sarasota Magazine, among others.

“I am thrilled to receive this award and serve as a representative of Sarasota County Schools,” noted Wilks. “I have been an educator for 29 years and love supporting teachers instructionally, as well as supporting students as they successfully graduate with the ability to pursue their future goals. It has been exciting to see all the gains Riverview High School’s students have made in various fields of study and to have a role in this process. I am focused on pushing curriculum forward to ensure that our students have access to tools and invaluable learning experiences. I am proud of all our amazing teachers that diligently care for the learning needs of our diverse school community. It is a joy to work with such a steadfast team that whole-heartedly embraces the district’s mission to exceed the educational needs of all students.”

Mrs. Wilks received her Bachelor of Education in Secondary Education from Georgia State University and has a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from the University of West Georgia. She has 20 years of educational experience with Sarasota County Schools, 6 years as a math teacher and 14 years as an administrator. Before assuming her role as Assistant Principal of Curriculum at Riverview High School (tenure that included several months as Acting Principal of the school), Kathy served as an assistant principal at North Port High School, where she supervised various departments and oversaw the Advanced Placement and AICE programs, professional development and master scheduling. She also served as the principal of Brookside Middle School, overseeing the implementation and review of the Middle Years IB Program, among other leadership responsibilities. Kathy is an avid learner and has attended many seminars for professional development, including the Visible Learning Conference with Professor John Hattie in San Francisco, and IB conferences and workshops in Princeton, Chicago, and Toronto. Additionally, Mrs. Wilks is currently one of five administrators in the state serving as a Commissioner on the Florida Education Practices Commission, hearing teacher and administrator panels throughout the state.  Mrs. Wilks’ previous awards include Sarasota County High School Teacher of the Year in 2004-2005, North Port High School Teacher of the Year in 2003-2004, and numerous grants as a classroom teacher.

Dr. LaShawn Frost and Mrs. Kathy Wilks are now in the running for Principal of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year, respectively, at the state level. The Florida Department of Education’s (FLDOE) Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership (Principal of the Year) was established in 1988 to recognize Florida principals for their contributions to their schools and communities. FLDOE’s Outstanding Assistant Principal Achievement Award (Assistant Principal of the Year) was established in 1997 to honor assistant principals that have utilized teamwork and leadership to increase student achievement and greatly improved school environments. FLDOE Commissioner of Education, Pam Stewart, will announce three state-level finalists for each award this coming spring at the Commissioner’s Summit for Principals. The finalist for each award will be revealed in the coming summer at the FLDOE Celebration For School Leaders.

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

About Sarasota County Schools

Sarasota County Schools is committed to providing unrivaled academic, emotional and civic growth to every student, every day. As one of the leading employers on the Suncoast, Sarasota County Schools boasts 53 schools that expertly cater to the diverse needs of over 43,000 students. We are one of two Florida school districts to consistently earn an A-grade every year since 2004. Our passionate educators empower students to take charge of their academic and personal success, a practice we believe fosters lifelong growth and achievement. We actively maintain the district’s tradition of excellence and ensure that tradition extends to all students. Our commitment to our students extends beyond graduation to make sure they not only graduate on time, but do so college and career ready. Want to take your student’s education to the next level? Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or visit


Assistant Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Laura Kingsley, Executive Director of Secondary Schools Steve Cantees and Director of Leadership Carol Kay Brown led the charge for surprising Dr. LaShawn Frost (Photo 1) and Kathy Wilks (Photo 2).


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