Exclusive one-on-one interview with DSUSD’s new superintendent

On Tuesday, the Desert Sands Unified School District’s board of education voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Kelly May-Vollmar to serve as the next superintendent.

After the vote came, a loud round of applause rang throughout the board chambers.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled. I have literally grown up in Desert Sands, and it’s an amazing community, and I feel so honored,” May-Vollmar said.

May-Vollmar has worked at the district for 18 years, most recently as the assistant superintendent of educational and technology services.

“My entire journey has been here in Desert Sands. I started as a parent and was actually a volunteer art teacher in my student’s class and from there I got my teaching credential, became a teacher, later a principal at Ben Franklin which was an outstanding experience, then I came over and took over technology in the district as the director of technology,” May Vollmar said.

May-Vollmar will be taking over for Scott Bailey when he retires in June.

In her first interview since being appointed superintendent, News Channel 3’s Peter Daut met with May-Vollmar at district headquarters. He asked her what her goals are for the district.

“Well, I think we have some really unique opportunities coming out of the pandemic. It certainly was challenging for everyone. Desert Sands has been known for being a very innovative district, and so we certainly have to continue in that direction to make sure our students have the very best opportunities,” May-Vollmar said. “But we also have a lot of work to do, as it pertains to students who may have fallen behind or are struggling during the pandemic. We’re focused on really launching a ‘read by third grade’ campaign that I think will be great for all of our students. And in addition to that, I think that the pandemic caused people to be isolated a little bit, so a really great opportunity to get back to inclusion and make sure that everyone has a voice. All our educational partners, and that we’re centered around a shared vision of what’s best for our students.”

“From your perspective, how has education changed, especially during the pandemic,” Peter asked May-Vollmar.

She answered, “Well since I started it’s changed a lot. Right, I used floppy disks… Of course I would never want a pandemic, right, but what’s really been the silver lining in it is that we are constantly trying to build capacity in all our employees to use technology in a way that really enhances student outcomes. But technology can be scary. And it can be intimidating. What the pandemic did for us was it was a must-do. It wasn’t an option for anyone. And so people really stepped up, and I’m so proud of our staff for embracing technology the way that we did. Because we were really able to do some amazing things for students in a very very difficult time. And technology helps to do that.”

“You know it’s really interesting that you have that technology background now becoming the superintendent, you know how it works,” Peter said.

May-Vollmar said, “Absolutely, absolutely. And I know how to really lead the district in a way that we’re leveraging it for our students. Not just buying shiny new things or buying technology for the sake of technology, but really using it in a way that changes the outcomes for our students.”

“What do you anticipate will be some of your biggest challenges as superintendent,” Peter asked.

May-Vollmar responded, “I do think, and I mentioned this earlier, we do have the challenge of having been in a pandemic and having been in a remote learning environment. So we have catch-up to do with our students. We have students that have fallen behind, and we’ve got to fill those gaps. I think another thing we need to look at is just how connected people feel because we lost some of that connectedness during the pandemic. And that’s so important that students feel like they’re connected to their schools, it’s a place they want to be, it’s a place they want to learn, there are adults there who care about them, so we have to make sure we build that back.” 

May-Vollmar’s first day as superintendent will be on July 1, 2022. Her contract will run until 2025.

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