KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Monday was the first official day on the job for the new Knox County Schools superintendent, Dr. Jon Rysewyk.
He spent his day visiting schools during their summer sessions, chatting with teachers and students.
“In a place where teachers are teaching and students are learning and engaged in the summer, I couldn't think of a better way to start today,” Rysewyk said.
Rysewyk has been working in Knox County Schools for more than 20 years. His last job in the district was as the assistant superintendent.
As he begins his journey, he says he has a lot on his to-do list, but his biggest concern at the moment is protecting his students. Amid the tragedy of a school shooting in Uvalde, he said safety and security are a top concern.
Rysewyk said he's working with community organizations to make sure kids are safe while trying to learn.
"I do appreciate our partnership with the Knox County Sheriff's Department and the Knoxville Police Department. So anything we can do to continue to learn to be better, we'll continue to do that I have a lot of confidence in what we're doing already,” he said.
Knox County’s School board already has its monthly agenda for upcoming meetings. They plan to discuss improvements to school security including the possibility of new body cameras for school resource officers.
Rysewyk also understands that students' mental health impacts how they perform academically. He said he believes more collaborative efforts with teachers are key.
"So it's not just all on the counselor," he said. "It's on that as on our whole staff to learn to be able to do that relate to students."