School District POY and APOY

School District’s Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year Announced
Posted on 01/29/2021

Rachel Capitano, Principal of the Year, and Justin Arnone, Assistant Principal of the Year standing with Dr. Fennoy

Rachel Capitano, principal of Don Estridge High Tech Middle School, and Justin Arnone, assistant principal of Palm Beach Central High School were the big winners at the School District of Palm Beach County Principal of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year awards ceremony on January 28.

Capitano received the honor out of a field of talented nominees who included Phillip D’Amico from Watson B. Duncan Middle School, Derrick Hibler from K.E. Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary School, and Adrienne Howard from U.B.Kinsey/Palmview Elementary School. Capitano is now a candidate for Principal of the Year for the state of Florida. 

To watch the Principal and Asst. Principal of the Year Ceremony, click here.

She helped open Don Estridge Middle School in 2004 as a language arts teacher. She has also served as an assistant principal and program planner for the District before becoming principal at Sandpiper Shores Elementary and later Del Prado Elementary. She has been the principal of Don Estridge Middle since 2017. The school has maintained an A-rating for several years.

Capitano was named the 2019-2020 Florida Council of Instructional Technology Innovative Principal of the Year, the 2019-2020 Palm Beach County P.T.S.A. Principal of the Year, and led the District in assisting all schools with the transition to distance learning. 

“Everyone has talked about the challenge this year has been,” Capitano said through tears. “But you know what? We won’t stop until our kids get exactly what they need, and that’s what drives us every single day.”

Justin Arnone was selected as the District’s first-ever Assistant Principal of the Year, the winner in a group of exceptional administrators, the other nominees being Altoria Henley from K.E. Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary School, Jeannie Placil from Banyan Creek Elementary School, and Andrea Walker from Lincoln Elementary School. Arnone is now the District’s nominee for the state’s Assistant Principal of the Year. 

Arnone has been an assistant principal at Palm Beach Central High since 2017. He also serves as the Student Activities Administrator and Graduation Coordinator, English Language Arts (ELA) Department Administrator, as well as the administrator for Performing and Fine Arts, Testing, Cambridge/AICE, and Educational Technology.

In a previous role as the Science Department Administrator, he oversaw a 12% increase in the Biology End of Course (EOC) scores. Additionally, through his efforts as the English for Students of Other Languages (ESOL) Program Administrator, the graduation rates for English Language Learner (ELL) students increased by 15%.

“This award is not about me,” said Arnone. “It’s about teams. It’s about our stakeholders coming together in a time of need and giving our kids what they need to be successful. And not just in the face of a global pandemic, but every single day.”

“The leadership role of a principal or an assistant principal is challenging enough in the best of times, but the men and women who we are celebrating this evening also continue to make remarkable progress amid this global pandemic,” said Superintendent Donald E. Fennoy II. “This year has been exceptionally challenging, and our District leaders have had to lean in, make decisions, and step up like never before. They have all accomplished this with dedication, grace, and resolve.”

The Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year celebration is presented through a collaboration between the School District of Palm Beach County and the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County with the support of presenting sponsor Comcast, along with other event sponsors and community partners: 

• Coca-Cola Beverages Florida

• Red Apple Supplies

• Dell Technologies

• Skanska

• HBK CPAs & Consultants

• Song and Associates

• JFK Medical Center

• TD Bank

• JPMorgan Chase & Co.

• The Breakers

• Keiser University

• The Weitz Company

• Miami Dolphins

• Tickets at Work

• Moss Foundation

• UnitedHealthcare

• Office Depot

• U.S. Sugar

• PNC Bank

• Verdex Construction