BUNNELL – The choices for 2023’s principal and assistant principal of the year have been announced, Flagler Schools announced in a statement issued Thursday. Belle Terre Elementary School Principal Jessica DeFord has been named Principal of the Year, while Matanzas High School Assistant Principal Sara Novak was named Assistant Principal of the Year.
DeFord became Belle Terre Elementary’s vice principal in 2016, and then principal in 2020. Her background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and Teaching from Saint Leo University in 2001, and a Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of North Florida in 2003. She has also worked in the school systems of Brevard and Putnam counties.
Novak, meanwhile, has been with Matanzas High School since 2005, initially serving as the school’s first ever head softball coach. She was a repeat instance of internal promotion, later becoming a physical education teacher, then a dean, and later assistant principal. Novak has a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and a Master of Science in Health Education with a concentration in Adaptive Physical Education from the State University of New York at Cortland, as well as a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Arkansas State University. Prior to teaching in Flagler County, Novak worked in the Homer Central School District in New York.
“I have known Jessica and Sara for years and have seen them grow professionally,” said Superintendent LaShakia Moore in a statement attached to the release. “They are outstanding representatives of the administrators found at our schools. They know the importance of ensuring a quality education for all the students on their campuses.”