Jessica DeFord, left, and Sara Novak. (Flagler Schools)

Jessica DeFord, left, and Sara Novak. (Flagler Schools)
Jessica DeFord, left, and Sara Novak. (Flagler Schools)

Flagler Schools announced today, in an unusually terse release, that Jessica DeFord is the District Principal of the Year and Sara Novak is the Assistant Principal of the Year.

Jessica DeFord, principal at Belle Terre Elementary School, has been with Flagler Schools since 2013. She was appointed a vice principal at Belle Terre in 2016. Then-Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt appointed her principal in 2020 following a six-month term as interim principal, after her predecessor, Terence Culver, was pushed out.

DeFord received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Teaching from Saint Leo University in 2001. She earned a Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of North Florida in 2003.

Before coming to Flagler County, DeFord taught in Brevard and Putnam Counties. She came to Flagler Schools in 2013 as a teacher and became an assistant principal at Belle Terre in 2016. She is the fourth principal of Belle Terre Elementary.

Sara Novak has worked with Flagler Schools for over 16 years. She came to Matanzas High School in 2005, serving as the school’s very first head softball coach. Novak has steadily risen through the ranks from PE teacher to dean and now Assistant Principal.

Novak earned 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. She also earned a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership at Arkansas State University. Before coming to Flagler County, Novak taught in the Homer Central School District in New York.

“I have known Jessica and Sara for years and have seen them grow professionally,” Superintendent LaShakia Moore was quoted as saying in 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.” The release did not quote the honored administrators.

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