JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Duval County's new school superintendent, has only been on the job a couple of weeks. But he's not wasting any time trying to figure out the biggest problems the district faces. And he wants to hear it from the horse's mouth.
Monday night at Terry Parker High School, he hosted his first town hall meeting, where he took questions from parents and teachers.
Parent Donna Hicks-Bowden said, "I really just want to hear where he's coming from."
Teacher James Moser said, "Without that communication, without that open door policy, we're not going fix the problems that need to be fixed."
Those problems included everything from budget issues to a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching. "It feels like teachers on an assembly line," said Moser.
Dr. Vitti responded, "I think that there's a lot of angst and concern regarding over testing, too much emphasis on FCAT."
He answered every question thrown his way, offering an availability that parents and teachers say they haven't seen in the past. "I think every event allows for more personalized interaction," he said.
Parents say that personalized interaction made them feel like their concerns were heard. And they say that gives them a reason to be optimistic about Duval County's future. Mom Melissa Kicklighter said, "If he can do that in multiple locations, people will see how approachable he is, they're gonna want to get to know him."
Monday was the first of seven town hall meetings Dr. Vitti will host. The next one is Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Fletcher High School.