Dr. Colleen Iannitti, Jupiter High School’s Principal, oversees a student body of over 3,000, a faculty of over 150 and a staff of over 50, during a pandemic, with poise, graciousness and experience.
Iannitti has been working in education for 30 years but has had a passion for schooling for most of her life. Inspired by her own teachers, she decided education was her future calling in seventh grade.
“I grew up as the oldest of five kids, and I was always around them. So, I felt like it was my calling. I had great teachers and a great education, so I just wanted to share with kids what my teachers shared with me,” Iannitti said.
Unlike previous school years, this one has been more challenging for Iannitti because of COVID-19, so her main focus is to make sure students and staff are safe but still able to have a memorable high school experience.
“Because so much of the high school experience is the social experience, like the sports, the clubs, the activities, I think you have to try to find a balance to have those fun activities so you have a senior year that you remember, but to also make sure everyone remains safe,” Iannitti said.
Iannitti included she really cares about her staff and appreciates seeing her students every day because they create a loving environment on campus.
“I think that I have the best students, and I truly believe that, and right now we have more students attending our school than any school in Palm Beach County, I think kids feel safe here, they want to be here, and they have great teachers,” Iannitti said. “The adults really care about the kids here, we’re here for kids, everybody is here for kids, so when you’re here it just makes it better for us.”
Iannitti’s ultimate goal is to make sure every student graduates. Her hope is to have a 100 percent graduation rate, giving every Jupiter High student the ability to thrive with a high school diploma.
“[They] can go off to college, military, or some type of a trade school. Making sure that everybody graduates is the most important thing,” Iannitti said.
Iannitti’s advice to students is to do what they want to succeed in life and to follow their calling.
“You only get one life, and it’s your responsibility to make the best of it. People are so driven by money, but really, you want to do what makes you happy and follow those dreams,” Iannitti said. “Set the goals that you want, don’t let other people talk you in or out of something, decide what you want.”
One of Iannitti’s favorite parts of her job is seeing students every day and knowing they reflect what Jupiter is all about, the “One Tribe” mentality that unites the school. She said she loves seeing students be their best selves.
“Their excitement and the things that they do make me happy, like award-winning-yearbooks and teams that work really hard. When they win, and even if they don’t win, they still are so proud, and that’s what I get excited about,” Iannitti said. “I’ve lived here for 25 years, so I think it’s how Jupiter is as a community, the parents, and the things that we stand for as a community.”
Although she works well over 50 hours a week, in her free time, Iannitti enjoys being outside and spending time with her family.
“I love to paddleboard and work out…I work a lot, but I try to go outside, and I like to be on the water,” Iannitti said. “I have grandkids, so I like being with them.”
When she’s not running a busy schedule, Iannitti enjoys traveling, and she tries to gain new experiences by learning about people and the way they live.
“Wherever I go, it becomes my favorite. I like to be with the people in different places so you can see what their life is like and experience different cultures and local places,” Iannitti said.
Iannitti’s parents have played a huge role in her life by inspiring her to teach and give back to the community. She credits them as role models for her job as principal.
”My dad was a fireman, so he was a civil servant,” Iannitti said. “My mom was a stay-at-home mom until she raised five kids, then she went to work, and it was always about giving back and teaching.”
Assistant Principal Joe Lang has been working at Jupiter High for 27 years and has nothing but praise for Iannitti.
“She’s the best principal I have worked for, and I’ve worked for 11 different principals,” Lang said.
Assistant Principal Amber Saunders also works under Iannitti and is appreciative of Iannitti’s empathetic leadership style and how Iannitti is supportive of the staff’s mental health and personal life.
“She is probably the best principal with regards to how she handles and treats her staff. I appreciate that every year one of her main focuses is destressing, and to ‘ground’ the staff,” Saunders said.
Saunders mentioned Iannitti reminds her that taking care of students and staff is the forefront of what an educational leader should be doing.
“The conversation is always about what is best for kids, and I think she really cares about the staff feeling secure too,” Saunders said.
Jupiter High senior Kaysa Flemk-Joli admires Iannitti as her principal and feels Iannitti builds positive connections and bonds with her students.
“Whenever she sees me in the halls, she always finds time to wave or at least talk to me, so she inspires me to smile or wave at people because it can affect someone’s day so positively,” Flemk-Joli said.
Flemk-Joli is thankful for Iannitti’s friendly approach to her and her peers.
“Before I graduate, I’d thank her for creating a bond with me and for being so kind,” Flemk-Joli said.