S.T.A.R. Awards – Staff That Are Remarkable
Congratulations to our 2021-2022 S.T.A.R. Award Winners
Pasco County Teacher of the Year – Ryan David Bintz
Longleaf Elementary School, Theatre and Music
“Teaching is what I was born to do. I don’t have a job. It
is not work for me. I get to create and inspire the arts in
students, each and every day. All at Longleaf have worked
together to make our school stand out in this county.”
Ryan Bintz has been teaching for 19 years and teaches
Theatre, Drama, and Music at Longleaf Elementary. Mr.
Bintz graduated from Clearwater Christian College with a degree in Music. He
developed a theatre curriculum for grades K-5 and was an integral part of
Longleaf Elementary being awarded the prestigious status of a Florida Arts
Model Achieve School. His students perform multiple full-scale musicals each
year, including coffee houses and holiday shows.
Mr. Bintz states that, “When I see my students perform, I shed a tear because of
what we have accomplished together.” Students are also tasked with writing
plays and researching historical events that they then “bring to life” through their
scriptwriting and acting. As an Achieve school for the Arts, Mr. Bintz feels
strongly that the immersion of his students in the performing arts has positively
affected both the culture of his school and the Longleaf community.
Mr. Bintz serves as a member of the Board of Directors at Richey Suncoast
Theatre and teaches at Innovative Studios in Trinity. He has performed
professionally throughout the Tampa Bay area and has worked for Carnival Cruise
Lines and Busch Gardens Entertainment. Mr. Bintz continues to be inspired every
day by his colleagues and students.
Pasco County School-Related Personnel of the Year – Joann Ortiz Ramos
Cypress Creek Middle School, Discipline IA
Joann started her career with Pasco County Schools five
years ago and has been in her current role as Discipline
Assistant for three. Her primary responsibilities include
but are not limited to assisting the teachers,
administrators, and students with discipline. Through
that role she takes control of the after-school detention
on Tuesdays and Thursdays while also running the
Saturday school program every weekend. She will assist where needed from subbing
to cleaning tables in the cafeteria.
Within a short amount of time, she has become an asset to her Cypress Creek family.
At the high school she has coached tennis and at the middle school Joann has
become a volunteer champion. Her dedication to this has brought the school the
honor of the Silver Volunteer Certificate.
Her dedication to helping others goes as far back as her career, of 19 years, when
she began working in the Puerto Rican education system. Joann has worked 1:1
with students to help them read and learn the English language (something she
continued in her role as ESOL IA – Cypress HS). Joann has also been an integral
part of FEMA placing herself in harm’s way to make sure people are getting what
Joann continues to help families through the ABC program. She has not limited
herself to clothing or just one food drive per year. She provides food for families
throughout the year and ensures some kids have something to take home prior to
the weekend. She will not hesitate to assist a family at a moment’s notice whether
they need food, clothes, or an advocate in translating. As the school’s volunteer
coordinator, she also supervises the schools Coyote Den and the Pack Shack as part
of their PBIS program.
Her passion to assist comes from her own background which enabled her to
understand the struggles that some of our family’s face. Joann is well thought of at
her school and is referred to as helpful, creative, and enthusiastic.
Pasco County Principal of the Year – Danielle “Dee Dee” Johnson
Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation Principal
Mrs. DeeDee Johnson began her career in Pasco
County Schools in 2004 as a math teacher and soccer
coach at Centennial Middle School. After two years at
the middle school, she went to Zephyrhills High School.
While at Zephyrhills High School, she was a math
teacher, SSAP teacher, and coached the girls and boys
soccer teams. In 2011, she became an assistant
principal at Wesley Chapel High School.
In 2017, she accepted the principal position at Wesley Chapel High School and
remained there until being asked to lead change at Pasco Middle School in
2018. Under her leadership Pasco Middle School became the first of two
Cambridge International School Demonstration Centers in the US for middle
schools. At the beginning of this school year, she was named the first ever
principal of Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation where she is excited to take
all she has learned and build a great school where students and staff are
innovative, and students will truly leave college, career, and life ready as they
graduate high school.
She is married to Michael Johnson, who is also an educator with the district. She
has one daughter, Cali, and a son, Jordy, who both attend Quail Hollow
Elementary School. Having young children in the district drives her to be her
absolute best, in addition to her natural strength of competition. She is
dedicated to always doing what is best for kids.
Pasco County Assistant Principal of the Year – Melissa Caruso
Bayonet Point Middle School
Melissa Caruso began her career in 2005 as a
kindergarten teacher at Deer Park Elementary School
and has served all levels during her 16 years in Pasco
County Schools. Melissa spent four years as a
Technology Specialist and Instructional Coach at
Hudson High School, and then three years on the
Northwest Regional Team supporting teachers and
coaches at elementary, middle, and high schools. In 2017, Melissa became
assistant principal at Bayonet Point Middle School where she utilized her
strengths in systems thinking and instructional coaching to develop teacher
leaders and coaches. Most recently, Melissa has returned to the district office in
the role of Program Coordinator for Secondary Academics where she will help
enhance programs and connect systems for secondary schools. She is also
finishing her doctorate this spring and hopes to lead a school as principal in the
future. Melissa has two smart and beautiful daughters, Madison and Rylee, that
are very supportive of her educational and career goals. They enjoy their 2 dogs
and family trips to Disney together.
Pasco County Administrator of the Year – Melissa Musselwhite
Office for Student Support Programs and Services (SSPS), Director
Ms. Melissa Musselwhite is currently the Director of
Student Support Programs and Services (SSPS) and has
been employed in Pasco County for 25 years serving in
various positions. Ms. Musselwhite began her career as a
Teacher of Specific Learning Disabilities at Richey
Elementary School in 1996. After several years as a Teacher of Pre-Kindergarten
Autism, she served as a school-based and district-wide behavior specialist. In July
of 2003, Mrs. Musselwhite was promoted to the Supervisor of Exceptional Student
Education at the District Office where she supported programs for students with
autism spectrum disorders.
In 2011, Mrs. Musselwhite was recognized for her skills in organization and
management with a promotion to Director of Human Resources (HR). In 2012, she
was again recognized for her knowledge and expertise by an appointment to the
Director of Exceptional Student Education.
Mrs. Musselwhite is grateful to be part of the unwavering commitment to
excellence, strong work ethic and a fervent passion for educating all students in
As a mother of two children that attend Pasco County Schools for, she feels
fortunate to be part of the school improvement efforts to fulfill the promise of
college, career and life readiness for each student. Mrs. Musselwhite is grateful to
her family for their support and to the staff in the Office for Student Support
Programs and Services team for their leadership and dedication to this work.
Pasco County Non-Instructional Non-Bargaining Employee of the Year – Aimee Starkey
Food and Nutrition Services, FNS Specialist
Mrs. Aimee Starkey was born and raised in Southern
Ohio where she went on to raise her own family and live
for many years. Growing up she always enjoyed
working in customer service roles. From working at
Kroger in High School, to owning and operating a
Marathon Gas Station her path has shown she has
always had a great passion for serving others and making them smile.
After relocating to Florida in 2013 with her husband Greg, Mrs. Starkey began
her Pasco County Schools career at J.W. Mitchell High School as a Food and
Nutrition Assistant before she continued on to a Senior Associate and Specialist
with the District. Not only is she “Momma” to the office, she spends time in the
community at summer feeding events, volunteers at job fairs, and volunteered
at hurricane shelters during Hurricane Irma. Mrs. Starkey also received the
Customer Service Award for Pasco County Schools in 2017.
She has 3 sons, including twin boys in college: Braden at Florida State University
and Brock at the University of Florida. Her oldest son Trey still resides in Ohio
with her four grandchildren. She also has two stepdaughters and a stepson. With
most of the family still living in her hometown she and her husband visit often
during the holidays.