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BCPS Announces Finalists for Principal of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year

December 17, 2019

Caliber Awards

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) announces three principals and three assistant principals as finalists for the 2020 Caliber Awards Principal of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year. Each year, the award recognizes outstanding school leaders who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students. These top leaders are acknowledged by their peers and school communities for the exemplary contributions they have made to the profession.

The Principal of the Year and the Assistant Principal of the Year will be named at the 2020 Caliber Awards Ceremony, recognizing the District’s outstanding teachers, principals, assistant principals and school-related employees. The ceremony takes place on Thursday, January 16, 2020, at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

Congratulations to BCPS Principal of the Year Finalists:

Melissa Holtz has served as principal for the past eight years at Wilton Manors Elementary School, home to the District’s only International Baccalaureate Primary Years magnet program. Focusing on the growth of the whole child, she believes it’s her job to ensure students in her care are uplifted every day. “Not every child is the same. Some are book smart, some are artistically talented and some struggle every day academically,” said Principal Holtz. “All children, no matter their story, can be changed forever by the words and actions of those around them.”

Director Dr. Mark Strauss has witnessed Principal Holtz’s understanding of the teaching profession and her exceptional leadership skills. “Under Ms. Holtz’s unwavering leadership, Wilton Manors Elementary gained 100 points as measured through the Florida Accountability Program, improving the school’s letter grade from a C to an A.”

Rhonda Parris became principal of Park Lakes Elementary School in 2017 when it was ranked as one of the lowest 300 schools in the state based on state assessment results. Having already served as principal at Sanders Park Elementary School for five years, she knew this would be a great opportunity to continue her passion for developing teachers, building solid academic infrastructure and impacting student learning by closing the achievement gap. In two years, Principal Parris worked to improve the school’s letter grade from a D to a B, which removed it from the list of lowest-performing schools.  

“Ms. Parris has impressed me with her leadership, knowledge and passion for education. She is an exceptional instructional leader who challenges students and staff to be the best they can be,” said Director Angela Fulton.

John Vetter is in his seventh year as principal of Floranada Elementary School, where his philosophy is that people, not programs, teach students. “I believe it’s my responsibility as principal to seek out only the best people to work at our school, regardless of the position,” said Principal Vetter. “I know that children watch everything we do and so each adult on campus is a teacher, whether he or she realizes it or not.”

Director Dr. Mark Strauss notes Principal Vetter is rarely in the office, but rather spends his days in classrooms interacting with students and teachers. “Under his leadership, the school maintains a focus on the arts as well as academics, ensuring well-rounded students. “His upbeat and pleasant presence is a great asset at the school and leads to a high-quality, pleasant learning environment for children and adults alike,” he said.

Congratulations to BCPS Assistant Principal of the Year Finalists: 

Sean Curran has served as assistant principal at Fort Lauderdale High School for the past five years. “I’ve been fortunate to work with and inspire some of the most brilliant students to achieve great things, and to work with and inspire struggling students to reach their fullest potentials,” said Curran. “We need to ensure that we provide a learning community that allows students the freedom to explore their place in the world and instill in them the confidence to pursue their goals.”

Principal Erin Brown said, “I consider myself extremely fortunate to have Mr. Curran as one of my administrators at Fort Lauderdale High School. As a mentor, he has paved the way for aspiring leaders and administrators to follow.”

Cheryl Hodgson-Toeller has spent the last 14 of her 16 years with the District as assistant principal at Blanche Ely High School. “I believe education is the most wonderful and powerful gift we can give to ourselves and others,” Toeller said. “Children are unique and must be exposed to learning in a way that addresses and is cognizant of their individual needs, while being fun, creative and challenging.”

“Ms. Toeller is an exceptional administrator who is committed to ensuring the success of all students,” said Blanche Ely High Principal Dr. Karlton Johnson. “She has created a proactive community of parents, community leaders and business partners to support her efforts. 

Vicky LaPorte is in her seventh year as assistant principal at Atlantic Technical College and Technical High School. In 2002, she became one of eight teachers for the first freshman class enrolled at the new high school. “A rigorous academic program is essential for every student,” said LaPorte. “But it’s also necessary to prepare students for college and careers, and more importantly, life.”

“Vicky is the epitome of a true educational leader, one that possesses all the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude to be recognized as a first-class assistant principal that she has become,” said her Director Robert Crawford. “She has proven herself to be a true leader and visionary in both the academic and the career/technical areas.”

The Caliber Awards presenting sponsor is BrightStar Credit Union. Supporting Caliber Awards sponsors include: Aetna, After School Programs, Inc. (ASP), Bank of America, Broward Principals’ and Assistants’ Association (BPAA), Broward Teacher’s Union (BTU), Dell Financial Services, Grand Canyon University, Herff Jones, JetBlue, Nova Southeastern University – Abraham S. Fischler School of Education, Pearson and Sunshine After School Child Care, Inc.





“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second-largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has nearly 270,000 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 89 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit, follow us on Twitter @browardschools, on Facebook at and download the free BCPS mobile app.