New Education Initiative in Palm Beach County
West Palm Beach, FL (April 9, 2014) –The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County hosted an Education Breakfast at the West Palm Beach Marriott featuring a panel of distinguished education leaders including Wayne Gent, Superintendent, Palm Beach County School District; Bill Fleming, President, Palm Beach Atlantic University; Dr. Dennis Gallon, President, Palm Beach State College; Dr. Jennifer Anderson, VP, Nova Southeastern University; Dr. Tom Duncan, President, Northwood University; Kimberly Lea, President, Kaiser University; and Dr. Gary Perry, Interim President and Chief Academic Officer, FAU.
More than 300 community leaders listened to the panel discus changes to the ways they align their curriculum with jobs in the industry sectors that are currently in Palm Beach County, and those the Business Development Board actively recruits. They also reviewed new tools either recently launched or in development to help showcase their institutions’ points of pride to potential new employers.
A highlight of the event was the unveiling of a new website – www.pbcedu.org – that provides a comprehensive overview of K-20 education in the county. The site was praised by Governor Scott as a model for every county in Florida, and beyond. It is thought to be the first of its kind in the nation. The School District introduced a new video touting the quality of K-20 education options available in Palm Beach County; and guests were able to learn more about various K-20 private and public schools that participated in a mini-expo to showcase their institutions.
Kelly Smallridge, BDB president and CEO, kicked-off the program by explaining the impetus for the new Palm Beach County education website and introduced a task force of approximately 40 education and business leaders who worked in collaboration to bring the website to completion; and who will continue work together to actively participate to improve the county’s economic competitiveness. “A strong educational system is critical to economic development, and our new initiative brings public, private, charter and faith-based schools together with our colleges and universities to provide a comprehensive picture of our region,” said Smallridge.
She continued to explain that the website is just the beginning of the task force’s effort to market and advocate the quality educational opportunities that exist in the county. The BDB formed the task force a little more than a year ago to exemplify the strengths and positive attributes of K – 20 educational opportunities in the county because quality education is such an important factor for site selection and economic growth and development.
In response to a question from moderator Carey O’Donnell, President, O’Donnell Agency, and task force co-chair, panelists highlighted a number of new programs designed to meet the region’s evolving workforce requirements. “We are piloting a new cyber security program for high school students,” said Wayne Gent, superintendent Palm Beach County School District. “We already offer more than 250 magnet and choice programs.”
Among the many new college and university level programs are an MBA with a concentration in health management, a bachelor’s degree program in logistics and transportation, and a doctoral program in nursing.