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Pine Trail Elementary School

Pine Trail Elementary School, located just north of Daytona Beach, is consistently a top-rated elementary school. Pine Trail especially emphasizes the arts. Students are encouraged to express themselves, and teachers stress the importance of creating art rather than focusing only on the end result. Additionally, Pine Trail provides a robust after-school program with continued support until 5:45 p.m. every school day. The school also provides an all-day summer program from 7:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Moreover, Pine Trail teachers have participated in lesson study, a Japanese-inspired professional development practice where teachers research an educational topic, compile a lesson, preview it in a classroom, and further customize the lesson to incorporate observations they made during the lesson’s first trial. Eventually, successful lessons are shared with colleagues.

Becky Pittard, who brought lesson study to Pine Trail, is among the school’s high-caliber faculty. In 2008-09, Pittard received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the highest honor for a K-12 mathematics teacher.

Service learning is also a focus at Pine Trail. In 2008, a student-led effort raised over $800 for a dog in need of special care. Similarly, every year, Meri Albert’s second-grade class adopts an endangered right whale. Albert centers this activity within a framework of learning, embedding the project in the teaching of biology, history, math and writing.

In a June letter to the editor in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, a faculty member wrote fondly of recently retired Pine Trail principal Barbara Paranzino: “This is a woman who empowered her staff and students to do their personal best by believing in them.” Despite Paranzino’s retirement, the school’s future is as bright as ever. Incoming principal Susan Persis is an accomplished school veteran. Having served 17 years as a school administrator, she is beginning her eighth year as a principal. She has been with Volusia County Schools since 2003, and though only in her first couple of months at Pine Trail, she has already been named president of the Florida Association of School Administrators.


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