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Retiring Palm Beach County principal reflects on career, COVID-19 pandemic

Published: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:01 AM EDT
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Palm Beach County students and teachers have finally made it. Friday, June 18 marks the last day of school for what has been a challenging and unprecedented 2020/21 academic year.

But at Park Vista Community High School in west Boynton Beach, Principal Reggie Myers may not be ready for the final bell.

Myers is retiring after 40 years with the School District of Palm Beach County.

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Looking back at his first Park Vista Community High School yearbook from 13 years ago, Myers couldn't help but reflect on his longstanding career in Palm Beach County schools.

"I've had 40 good years in my career," Myers said. "I don't think there's ever been a day, in fact, I know there’s never been a day in my career that I did not want to get up and go to work."

But retiring after a school year drastically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, distance learning, and missed milestones is something Myers could never have predicted.

"I can tell you I grew so much," Myers said. "I always thought I was efficient in my job. But I can tell you I was even more efficient these past 16 months because I had to do things differently to continue to serve our kids."

The longtime school leader said the pandemic has forced teachers to find creative ways to educate children.

"I actually think that’s some of the positives that’s coming out of this," Myers said. "That teachers and administrators are going to take those skills and use them to inspire, to motivate, and to teach our students. And I think we are going to be better because of this experience."

Myers said it's bittersweet to be walking away as things are starting to return to normal.

"I'm so excited about next year and I'm not even going to be here," Myers said. "I just might get up and get dressed and have no place to go!"

Myers started his career with the School District of Palm Beach County as a physical education teacher at Pine Grove Elementary School.

From there, he went to Coral Sunset Elementary School as the assistant principal in 1988, followed by Del Prado Elementary School.

Myers' first principal job came in 1994 at Sandpiper Shores Elementary School in Boca Raton, where he stayed until 2000.

His next stop took him to the Middle School of Choice Alternative School, where he served as principal from 2000 to 2003, followed by principal of John I. Leonard High School from 2003 to 2006, principal of Christa McAuliffe Middle School from 2006 to 2008, and finally his current role as principal of Park Vista Community High School since 2008.

"Why do we do what we do? We do it for the kids. And knowing that we're going to be able to reengage and bring them back in the fall, I'm going to miss it," Myers said.

The impact of his 40-year career can be measured by the countless lives Myers has touched, and the memories that will last a lifetime.

"I think the craziest one was probably I had the little tutu on and doing some kind of Hawaiian dance in front of 2,500 kids," Myers said. "And it's like, seriously? I'm doing this right now? But that's what it's all about."

Myers, a 2020 Principal of the Year nominee, said he's been flooded with emotions these past few weeks, presiding over his last graduation and other moments along the way.

"I'm going to miss the academic side of it, the athletic side of it, the performing arts," Myers said. "My journey has been a blessing because of the people I met along the way."

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Myers hopes his legacy is one all about what's best for the kids.

"I hope that I have been a good worker," Myers said. "I hope that I have modeled what I talked about each and every day, the importance of treating individuals the way you want to be treated. And I hope I've represented the community that I've served, that I've done the work that they’ve expected of me."

Myers said he's staying in town and plans to do volunteer work in the community and will continue to advocate for Palm Beach County children.

Myers is one of about a dozen principals in the School District of Palm Beach County who are retiring this year. The others are:

  • Ariel Alejo, Pierce Hammock Elementary School
  • Timothy Abrams, Alternative Education Center Support Services
  • Gayle Harper, Northboro Elementary School
  • Jo Rogers, Grove Park Elementary School
  • Susan Atherley, Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts
  • Sandra Jinks, Palm Springs Middle School
  • Judith Garrard, Seminole Trails Elementary School
  • Marilu Garcia, Allamanda Elementary School
  • Maureen Werner, Marsh Pointe Elementary School
  • Peter Slack, Boca Raton Middle School
  • Jeffrey Eassa, Jerry Thomas Elementary School

School districts in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee counties are already out of school for the summer.

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