What brought you to education and what makes you stay?
After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in finance, I came across a classified ad for a budget analyst position in Broward County Public Schools. I was fortunate enough to land the job and quickly became interested in a career. It’s very rewarding to work for a good cause and I do not believe anything is more important than public education. My Mom had a career in the Federal government and always stressed the importance of public service. If I ever need a reminder as to why to continue, all it takes is a school visit and some interaction with our students. There is no better source of inspiration, and it always lifts my spirits. This is a great job and I’m honored to serve in this role.
What do you most want to accomplish during your superintendency? What obstacles stand in your way and how do you plan to overcome them?
I want our district operated public schools to outperform all other education choice options including charter schools, private schools, virtual, and home education. While academic performance is paramount, I am also stressing the importance of a complete educational experience that includes athletics, music, clubs and extracurricular activities. Ideally, every student will forge a connection with their school campus beyond the classroom through a team sport, the band, or a club. There are always obstacles, but we are very fortunate in Palm Beach County to have a community that strongly supports our schools. We enjoy many great business and community partnerships, as well as two local referendums that enhance funding for both operating and capital expenditures.
What is your main area of focus for this year?
For this school year, I’m focused on Improving student performance outcomes and providing more opportunities for community experiences outside of the classroom. As part of our strategic plan, every fifth, seventh, and tenth grade student will go on a field trip this school year. These cultural, science, and local history venues will reinforce classroom learning and open student minds to new experiences across Palm Beach County. Raising our standard of customer service expectations throughout all levels of the school district is also a priority in this extremely competitive environment with universal vouchers.
How are you recruiting and retaining staff?
Palm Beach is providing a very competitive compensation package to employees and working to ensure all members of Team Palm Beach feel valued and supported in their work. I also shadow an employee each month to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the job they do. My job shadow experiences are filmed as part of an ongoing series called “Burke at Work”. This has been a fun way to get to know my colleagues better throughout the district.
What do you think is the most important skill for a superintendent to develop?
Communications skills are incredibly important as superintendent, along with decision making and problem solving.
What do you most want students to remember from their time in school?
I want students to remember all of the teachers, counselors, coaches, school administrators and support staff that contributed to their success and hopefully helped them have fun along the way.
Last but not least – please share something your colleagues probably don’t know about you
I skateboard with my dog Harper who is half Siberian Husky and loves to run. My neighbors tease me that we are training for the Iditarod. I grew up surfing and skateboarding, but people are surprised to see me still skateboarding at my age.