One of Us: Michael Hannon


When Michael Hannon first became involved as a parent volunteer in local education in the 1970s, Ponte Vedra had one school. Today, he finds himself once again at the helm of the public education foundation he led back then, and he remains committed to ensuring that Ponte Vedra schools are the best in the state.

How did you come to be involved initially with the Ponte Vedra Public Education Foundation?

In the late 1970s I was a single head of household with both a 2nd and 4th grade child enrolled at PVPV Elementary and occasionally I received a request for a meeting with one of my children’s teachers. The teachers were very impressive, dedicated individuals, but the facilities left a great deal to be desired. After serving a year as president of the PTO, I felt there was a greater need for support for the quality of public education in our community.  


What was the state of public education when you first moved to Ponte Vedra?

In the late 1970s, we had one school in Ponte Vedra. The facility was very outdated. We were fortunate to have a great group of teachers, but the administration felt things were good enough. They were not.

What sort of programs and activities did the foundation support over the years?

The Public Education Foundation defined a focus on cultural enrichment through elevated programming in performing arts, teacher support and facility enhancement. The sponsors provided over $150,000 the first three years. It was a very exciting experience for the students, teachers and our supporters. We were humbled as we read the students’ observations of the performing arts programs provided by the teachers. We received several visits from state Secretary of Education Betty Castor and one visit from the governor. The school district informed us they received $1.5 million to be used for facility enhancement. That was big.

What brought you back to serve as president of the foundation once again?

Several years after forming the Public Education Foundation, I was transferred to Atlanta, Georgia, then Aspen, Colorado and eventually Northern Virginia. My passion for enriching public education remained and I was fortunate to be in a position to form The Carbondale, Colorado Public Education Foundation and The Spotsylvania, Virginia Education Foundation. When I retired, we moved back to St Johns County and I contacted Marilyn Hoener, president of the Ponte Vedra Education Foundation, letting her know I would like to help. At my first meeting I was asked to again assume the role as president. 

Today, the St. Johns County schools are considered the best in the state. How do you see the foundation assisting local schools today?

Nothing remains the same. It remains important to let St. Johns County government know we want to continue to enrich the public education experience in Ponte Vedra. The Ponte Vedra Public Education Foundation continues to hold our original focus of cultural enrichment through elevated programming in performing arts, teacher support and facility enhancement. We would like to expand community financial support as a way of putting our money where our hearts are – for government awareness.

What is your favorite part about living in Ponte Vedra?

Ponte Vedra is beautiful and vibrant, with a rich history of a caring population. I have lived in some very interesting and beautiful places around the globe that provide standards with which to compare against Ponte Vedra. With that in mind, I feel Ponte Vedra is a very special, rare and beautiful place to live. Lush, green vegetation year round, plentiful wild life and the beach attract a permanent population who share those interests—birds of a feather, so to speak.