San Jose Early College at Cecil will launch in 2022 with Michelle Knapp at the helm as school principal. Mrs. Knapp was principal at San Jose Prep until January 1, at which time she transferred to lead the new Westside campus. Sarah Thurlow was promoted from assistant principal to principal at San Jose Prep.
Mrs. Knapp joined San Jose Schools in 2019. She is popular with students for TikTok videos and her ability to fluently communicate in English and Spanish. She is well loved by school staff members for her enthusiasm, creativity and willingness to dive in to solve even the most difficult of problems. Before coming to San Jose Schools, Mrs. Knapp was an educator in Clay County Schools, and she has opened new charter schools in the same county. Mrs. Knapp has worked as a school administrator in Northeast Florida since 2006. She received the following honors:
- 2013 Finalist for Florida Department of Education Assistant Principal of the Year
- 2012-13 Clay County Assistant Principal of the Year
- Clay County’s first World Languages National Board Certified Teacher, 2002-2012
- In Newsweek, America’s Top High Schools: Orange Park High School made the national list for three years under Ms. Knapp’s leadership; San Jose Prep made the list for the first time while she was principal.
The administrative team for San Jose Early College at Cecil also includes Dawna Taylor, newly hired assistant superintendent who oversees curriculum and teaching practices at San Jose Schools, and Ryan Rewey, superintendent of charter schools since 2020.
“I look forward to engaging with the academic and technical educators as we open this new campus at Cecil Center,” said Ms. Taylor. “I want to keep an open channel of communication between myself and families. I hope to lend experience in curriculum and instruction to our teachers’ outstanding efforts day in and day out at our schools.”
Ms. Taylor has led charter schools in South Florida; she has worked in training, development and leadership in private corporations; and she has reviewed schools for the process for accreditation and continuous improvement.
Mr. Rewey, as superintendent of charter schools, lends his expertise to this endeavor as an educator and public school administrator. Mr. Rewey is particularly well known for developing and leading effective career and technical education programs in multiple states. Mr. Rewey explains that success is imminent when a school builds strong partnerships: “San Jose Schools’ new campus at Cecil Center leans on resources made available by the National Career Academy Coalition, College Board, local businesses, government leaders and FSCJ [Florida State College of Jacksonville]. We are grateful for the strength that comes from such a network.”