Andy Jenks joined Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools this month as its new chief communications officer.
Jenks formerly served as the chief of communications and community engagement for Henrico County Public Schools in Virginia and has a history as a television news anchor, reporter and producer.
As CHCCS's new chief of communications, Jenks serves as the official spokesperson for the school district and is responsible for establishing public understanding of the district’s mission and vision.
“It's never enough just to write an email, to put out a press release or tweet out a link," Jenks said. "You have to spend an enormous amount of time being sure that your messages are clear, understandable and reaching the audiences the way that those audiences want to be reached. And so, the more time I spend in this position, I think, the more understanding I’ll have of our various audiences and do everything I can to reach those audiences the way they want to be reached.”
One of the factors that brought Jenks to Chapel Hill was his prior work relationship with CHCCS Superintendent Nyah Hamlett. The two worked together in Henrico County.
“Andy is an experienced school district professional who is well-suited for leading our communications and public relations work," Hamlett said. "His energy, creativity and passion for public education make him a great addition to our school district and our community.”
Jenks said he plans to incorporate more visual storytelling and social media into communications, as many families in the district receive information on cell phones, and email might not always be the best way to communicate.
“We had a great deal of success in Virginia about bringing personality to our communication platforms and methods," Jenks said. "And we don't want to be viewed as just some central office off in the distance and nobody knows who these people are."
Henrico County Public Schools Superintendent Amy Cashwell reflected on Jenks' time as the division's chief of communications and community engagement. Jenks was the one to deliver snow day news to families.
“There’s no doubt Andy Jenks will long be fondly remembered in the Henrico Schools community," Cashwell said. "His snow day calls and videos were the center of much fun and joy as Andy creatively delivered news of a much-anticipated day off of school to our students. Andy’s infamous snow day persona and trademark raised eyebrow were known to all in the Henrico community. We are wishing him well on his new endeavor in North Carolina.”
In the new role, Jenks said he aims to emphasize the importance of trust between school communications and families.
“It’s so much more than being a spokesman or a press secretary," Jenks said. "You really have to appreciate how parents, families and students desire information about and from their school system."
Jenks said he is looking forward to starting a new chapter both personally and professionally. He said he is excited to live in the Triangle and to be surrounded by major universities and all they have to offer.
“I want to learn as much as I can," Jenks said. "And in doing so, I think we’ll be able to work together to achieve the goals of the school system, which are the goals of our community as well.”