PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Monday is the first day of school in Palm Beach County, and the superintendent is laying out his plans and goals.
Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy, along with School Police Chief Frank Kitzerow and Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, will all visit Jupiter Elementary School on the first day. The school raised its letter grade from a "C" to an "A."
Fennoy says school safety is the No. 1 priority.
He says, “obviously everything happening in our country and everything we’ve experienced here in South Florida, that has been our priority all summer. (We are) really pushing to make sure our schools are safe -- both things that people can physically see and those they can’t see.”
Fennoy said while we navigate school in this post-Parkland era, he also wants students to have a positive school experience.
“I also want as much as possible for our students to have a normal experience. So many of the things we are dealing with are adult issues, so I just want as much as possible for our kids to enjoy school, continue the great work our teachers and staff have done for our kids,” he says.
This year, every school campus will have a mental health professional.
“Important is an understatement,” Fennoy says. “It’s required in this day and age. I think whatever we can do as a school system, as a community, to have caring adults for every child in our district is something we want to make sure happens.”
Fennoy says it is just as important to support staff and students in this new reality.
He also says there is a new emphasis and push on post-secondary education starting earlier. He says, “exposing children and families to different career options early. We want our kids to experiment in IT if they are interested in that, or culinary or drone operations. You know the workforce is changing and so we’re trying to be nimble working with our partners at FAU and Palm Beach State, Palm Beach Atlantic and all these different universities, but also trying to make sure our kids are aware of the different types of job opportunities that are available to them. We as a community realize the ultimate goal of education is for our children to go on and join the workforce and be great citizens.”
Fennoy also has some basic hopes and goals for the year.
“I hope our kids make new friends. I hope our kids begin to model for us adults what society should look like and how people should interact with one another. (I want to) encourage our kids to be more inclusive, to listen to one another, to learn about one another in a way they haven’t before but more importantly even learn about themselves, I think that’s a great start too. That's what I’m hoping for our kids, is to be better than us, and that’s what I’m really excited about.”
He also says it is important for parents to keep their contact information up to date with their child’s school and monitor their social media.
“The more we as parents can do to assist our kids in protecting them from themselves I am strongly encouraging parents to do that,” said Fennoy.
WATCH BELOW: Palm Beach County Superintendent Donald Fennoy, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and School Police Chief Frank Kitzerow discuss the first day of school in Palm Beach County: