Cheryl Alligood, chief academic officer of the School District of Palm Beach County, retired this month after a 35-year career, including 18 years with Palm Beach County schools.
“It has been a great experience,” Alligood said. “I’m ready to move on and spend time as a grandmother now.”
Alligood, who grew up outside Philadelphia, started her career as a special needs teacher with Volusia County schools. “I just loved what I was doing since the day I started,” Alligood said.
Eventually, the superintendent in Volusia asked her to take a position training other teachers. In 1996, then-Palm Beach County School Superintendent Joan Kowal convinced Alligood to help turn around seven failing schools. All seven improved the next year.
Alligood later found what she said has been her favorite job, being a high school principal. She served five years as Wellington High School’s principal, and then another five years as principal at Jupiter High School.
“You really feel like you can impact students as a principal,” Alligood said.
Alligood was at Jupiter High School in 2013 when Superintendent Wayne Gent asked her to take over as the chief academic officer.
Alligood said that she is proudest of the professional development web site she helped develop during her tenure that helps principals with the transition when they take over a new school.
“It’s very hard to run a school, but having the opportunity to serve as a mentor for other leaders has been such a rewarding experience,” Alligood said.
Another former high school principal, Keith Oswald, will take over as the interim chief academic officer. Alligood plans to take at least six months to figure out what she wants to do in her retirement. “I’m going to do a safari or something like that,” Alligood said.
ABOVE: Cheryl Alligood