Meet the Team: Danté Jennings
Danté Jennings serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund
Tell us a little bit about you and how you came to JPEF?
As a product of Duval County Public Schools, I went on to be a first-generation college student. I graduated from Florida International University in 2010. After teaching mathematics for several years, I was recognized as Teacher of the Year in 2017. It was during this time I saw the need for increased accountability and advocacy in school leadership and in 2019, supported as a fellow under the Quality Education For All Fund, I pursued my Master's from Columbia University in New York. I value environments where intellectual flexibility and creativity are encouraged and I have found that at JPEF.
Why does public education matter to you personally?
Public education means a commitment to humanity, to the belief that every person is endowed with a unique essence that can only be cultivated through exploration and curiosity. This means that public education is the vanguard of our democracy, securing that no one is deprived of resources to pursue the best version of themselves and access to the tools that make a prosperous life attainable.
Why are you excited to lead JPEF’s strategic initiatives?
It is an area where innovative thinking and execution can significantly transform the educational landscape in a community I hold near and dear. This work provides an opportunity for JPEF to be a beacon of hope, a paragon of what community looks like when we commit to educating all students.
Tell us about a teacher who made an impact on your life.
Unequivocally, Dr. Kathy Garland saved my life. She asked me close to graduation day what school I planned on attending. I responded, “I’m graduating high school, that should be enough." That was not enough! She called my mother and told her I was staying after school to complete applications. Without that challenge, the trajectory of my life would’ve surely collided with the statistics that plague many young Black boys growing up in low socioeconomic areas.