SJR State presents 2021 faculty, staff excellence awards

Emily Schafer
Terry Thomas
Michelle Mancil
Eric Mellies

St. Johns River State College (SJR State) recently presented its annual faculty and staff excellence awards during the College’s Annual Professional Development Day.

The 2021 Faculty Excellence Award was presented to Florida School of the Arts costume design instructor Emily Schafer and business education instructor Terry Thomas.

Recipients of the 2021 Staff Excellence Award was Michelle Mancil, Orange Park campus Academic Support Center coordinator, and Eric Mellies, environmental systems coordinator.

According to Vice President for Development and External Affairs Caroline Tingle, "The Employee Excellence Awards program is designed to pay tribute to faculty and staff members who continuously demonstrate a commitment to our unique mission as our ‘community’s’ college. Our College’s faculty and staff are core to the success of our students and programs, and these award recognitions provide us an opportunity to acknowledge and thank exceptional employees for their contributions, dedication and commitment to the SJR State community."

The criteria for evaluating the Faculty Excellence Award includes instructional excellence, contributions to department/discipline, and service above and beyond.

Schafer, who began her career at SJR State in 2010, was nominated by FloArts stage management and acting instructor Patricia Crotty. "I cannot speak highly enough of Emily’s work ethic, integrity and excellence. She also has a heart as big as the world. She is passionate about her work, her students, and the mission of the School," Crotty said. "She is always focused on what is best for the students, and advocates strongly for them in all situations. She is also a great colleague and friend."

Thomas, who began her SJR State career in 2015, has been an instrumental mentor to new accounting instructor Douglas Mikutel, who said, "Terry strives to bring even more opportunity to the College, as she is currently working to develop possible internships for business students in order to assist with the tax preparation assistance for selected populations within Putnam County. It is this work that really distinguishes her in our department, as she seeks to provide opportunities for SJR students coupled with seeking to help those in need within Putnam County."

The criteria for evaluating the Staff Excellence Award nominees includes staff members exceeding expectations in their positions, contributions to the College/department, and service and leadership.

Mancil began her career at SJR State in 2013. Mathematics instructor Thomas Flanagan, who nominated Mancil, said, "Michelle is well known to our students as a person to go to if you are struggling," adding that Mancil is also known for her ‘Mancil Methods,’ which are "tips and tricks she has developed to help students get through difficult algebraic topics." Working closely with the Orange Park campus mathematics faculty each semester, Mancil also helps to identify and assist at-risk students. "Most recently, she spearheaded reviews for our students, which she calls ‘Crash Courses," Flanagan said.

Mellies, who began his SJR State career in 2010, is admired and appreciated for his attention to detail and problem-solving skills. According to FloArts costume shop manager and costume faculty member Tiffany Jordan, "Our Fall 2020 dance show was a film project, and we needed to set up a power source for some lighting instruments to be used outside. Eric promptly came over to the costume shop to talk us through the outdoor power setup, and how to achieve the look we wanted for the show. Even with everything being so disrupted because of the current situation with COVID-19, Eric has remained consistently dependable and helpful in any way he can. When Eric finishes a job, he always makes sure to talk to my students, including myself, about what he’s done so we can understand how he fixed it," said Jordan.

The awards were sponsored by the SJR State Foundation, whose mission is to support the growth and development of SJR State in the various ways that are beneficial to its students, faculty, staff and campus facilities, located in Orange Park, Palatka and St. Augustine. For over 60 years, SJR State has built a solid reputation as a full-service college dedicated to meeting the educational and workforce training needs of its Northeast Florida district. For more information, visit the website at

Faculty awards: The SJR State 2021 Faculty Excellence Award was presented to Florida School of the Arts costume design instructor Emily Schafer, and business and accounting instructor Terry Thomas.
Staff awards: The Staff Excellence Award was presented to Michelle Mancil, Orange Park campus Academic Support Center coordinator, and Eric Mellies, environmental systems coordinator.



Susan Kessler
Director of Public Relations and Publications
(386) 312-4020