MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The new superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools officially took the helm of the nation's fourth largest school district on Monday.
Jose Dotres, who was appointed by the school board on Jan. 25, mostly recently served as the deputy superintendent in Collier County.
Dotres told CBS4's Peter D'Oench that he spent his first day returning to two schools that he had worked at before. Those schools were Hialeah Gardens Elementary, where he had been a principal, and the Milam K-8 Center, where he had been an assistant principal.
"I just wanted to say I am grateful to so many people at those sites. I also wanted to take this day to honor those at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School," he said.
Dotres said it was also vital to deal with mental health issues in the school system.
"We want to make sure we reach out to counselors who know the best ways to help students with those issues," he said.
The 59-year-old veteran educator started his education career in Miami-Dade County Public Schools in 1988 as a teacher and principal before moving into Miami-Dade's district office.
He previously told CBS4 News one of the biggest challenges he's facing in his new role is combatting learning loss and the need to accelerate learning for kids to help get them to where they need to be academically, all while balancing social, economic and mental health factors.
"I don't think it can get any more complex," Dotres said of the challenges ahead. "In Miami-Dade, the challenge is a great one. It is great because of the many different pockets. The complexity of the city, of the community. And then where some schools lie in the additional resources that are needed."
WEB EXTRA: Dr. Dotres Gives Press Conference About His First Day As Superintendent
"The big, big challenge is making sure that we are on top of and very diligent and making sure we are providing the appropriate instructional strategies and the appropriate instructional supports for students to not only grow academically but in many areas catch up in the learning that they've lost," Dotres said. "The greatest challenges involve addressing the learning loss that has occurred as a result of the Pandemic. A key area is mathematics. We need to support teachers so we can equip them with opportunities to accelerate learning. That is critical."
Last week, he reached a two-year agreement with the school district and will be paid $370,000 annually.
He is replacing Alberto Carvalho, who is heading to California to lead the Los Angeles Unified School District.
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