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The School District of Lee County is excited to announce that Neketa Watson has been appointed Principal of High School MMM. Watson will start her new role on August 12th.
“I am honored and excited to accept this appointment,” Neketa Watson said just after the Lee County School Board gave its approval. “This is a dream job for any principal to open a new school and I look forward to engaging and collaborating with the community.”
Watson is a veteran administrator in the Lee County School District, currently serving as Principal at Lehigh Acres Middle School. She started as a teacher at Lehigh Senior High School in 2001 and was promoted to Assistant Principal in 2006. Watson was then an Assistant Principal at East Lee County High School before being named Principal at Lehigh Acres Middle School in 2014.
“Neketa has been an incredible leader at every school she has served,” says Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins. “Her past performance and current experience make her the perfect candidate to lead MMM.”
High School MMM is scheduled to open to students in August of 2021 on Griffin Dr. in the Gateway neighborhood of Lee County. Construction will begin later this year. The first freshman class will start in portables on the campus of Lehigh Senior High School in August of 2020.
As Principal, Watson will now be able to help lead the process of choosing a school name, school colors and school mascot. She will also help oversee school construction, staff hiring and academic programming. Cyber Security, Veterinary Assisting, Medical Assisting and Culinary have previously been announced as the school’s first four academies.
“Starting from the ground up is a challenge, but also an exciting opportunity to make MMM the best high school possible,” Watson says.
The search is now underway to find Watson’s successor at Lehigh Acres Middle School.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
This past June, Toni Washington-Knight received a message from a friend asking her about her plans with the School District of Lee County. This one question led to a later phone conversation and then a meeting with Principal Robert Butz, who offered her the position of Assistant Principal at her alma mater, Fort Myers High School.
This was not Toni’s first administrative role in the district. In 2014, she was appointed as the Assistant Principal at Fort Myers Middle Academy, a position she chose to resign in order to support her husband Harrison Knight, who relocated to Broward County to serve as the Assistant Director of Transportation for Broward Schools.
During her time away, Toni continued to sharpen her leadership skills. Serving as an induction coach for Broward Schools, her primary role was to support year one and year two teachers. She was able to develop 15 new educators, using her previous leadership and classroom experience.
Toni states, “I loved my role as an induction coach. Sharing ideas, planning with teachers and building relationships is what makes this position so unique. When your primary role is to focus only on the new teacher, you are able to pour more knowledge into preparing them for success and longevity in our profession.” She later left this position, to accept an Assistant Principal role with Charter Schools USA.
Returning home to help her daughter who was a new mom, Toni reentered the School District of Lee County, not as a leader, but as a classroom teacher at Edgewood Academy. Once again, she received a message from a friend and college classmate asking to meet and discuss school plans for the upcoming academic year at Franklin Park Elementary. As fate would have it, she was offered and accepted the position of Intervention Support Specialist, a job she previously held with the school district.
Toni calls every student she has taught her babies or her school son or school daughter and they all hold a special place in her heart. “I am an educator who enjoys teaching and learning. Whether I am imparting knowledge on children, teachers or families, I find pleasure in what I do.”
Toni Washington-Knight first entered the classroom in December 1997 as an inclusion teacher and remained for 13 years, receiving numerous accolades and honors as an educator, including National Board Certification.
When asked what her future plans were, Toni responded, “God can open doors that no one can close and can easily close doors that no one can open. My fate is in good hands.”
Congratulations are in order for Veronica Young, who will take the reigns as Lehigh Senior High School's new Assistant Principal in the fall. Reigning from the “Highest of Seven Hills”, Veronica Young is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Business Education.
Upon graduating, Veronica relocated back home to to Fort Myers and began her career in the field of education. Her new beginning emerged at Coronado High School while working with students at risk of not graduating. It was the experience at Coronado that prepped the foundation for transition into middle school. Young explained, while at Coronado, "I learned and adapted a sense of patience and perseverance, that was exuded by the students, as they worked towards their individual education goals."
Taking middle school by storm, while finishing dual masters degrees in Reading and Educational Leadership from Florida Gulf Coast University, Veronica emerged into a highly effective teacher and instructional coach. Throughout her time within the middle school level and under the tutelage of skilled administrative minds, Veronica began her journey into the instructional leader she is today.
Veronica in hopes of being a role model and mentor to students who came from similar backgrounds, took a leap of faith and started a new beginning at Lehigh Senior High School, as the Instructional Leader over the science department. It was under her leadership, the Science Department of Lehigh Senior High, obtained the highest performance gains in the district in relation to the end of course exams. She's also been instrumental in piloting and orchestrating mentorship programs such as 20 Pearls and Beta, which share the focus of increasing student engagement, building relationships, and the promotion of higher education.
As Veronica Young prepares to transition into her new role as Assistant Principal of Lehigh Senior High School, she accredits the accomplishment on her faith and the journey that God has placed on her life. She also recognizes that success comes in phases and that through prayer and understanding of the things God has called us to do, success is inevitable.