The Roswell Independent School District School Board hired Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy as superintendent for the 2018-2019 school year during a special meeting Monday evening.
McIlroy is the superintendent at Loving Municipal Schools and received a phone call around 11:30 a.m. on Monday congratulating her on her new position.
“I want this to be a district where our kids are flocking to and not running away from,” McIlroy said. “Every single face, every single name, every single little soul matters and they count — and we are going to be counting on them because when you start them in pre-k and 14 years later we want to see them in cap and gown and getting a diploma and ready to take on the world, and just set the world on fire. Until we get one hundred percent of those kids doing that, our job is not done. That’s my commitment, is we are really going to work on making every single face, name and soul that they all count.”
McIlroy thanked members of the community for giving their time and said they could trust the quality of the superintendent interviews and selection process — which she called grueling, taxing and intense. She said she felt she went through the gauntlet on Saturday, but it has been a learning experience to reflect on her professional background and accomplishment.
“This is the best profession ever,” McIlroy said. “I firmly believe that and so I think there ought to be great joy in what we do every single day. You ought to be able to laugh every single day and just really, really have fun learning and teaching — because teaching is learning.”
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McIlroy was one of the six finalists along with Susan Sanchez, RISD interim superintendent; Dr. Porter Cutrell, director of alternative education at University High School and Roswell Early College High School; Anthony Sorola, assistant superintendent of administrative services at Lufkin Independent School District in east Texas; Suchint Sarangarm from Hobbs; and Ricky Williams from Hagerman.
“Madam president, members of the board, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to serve you as interim superintendent,” Sanchez said. “I am committed to this district to complete my contract until June 30 of 2018 and I’ll be more than happy to continue to work with Dr. McIlroy in the transition so we have a smooth transition. Thank you.”
Cutrell has accepted the superintendent position in Cloudcroft and withdrew his candidacy for the Roswell position. Cutrell said both interviews were scheduled at the same time and he had to make a decision. He will attend the board meeting in the evening today and will potentially start in June.
“I’m just happy for both places,” Cutrell said. “It was just unfortunate those were both on the same day, but I am excited to be able to go up and see what’s up for the next adventure.”
McIlroy said it is very bittersweet leaving behind her position as superintendent at Loving Municipal Schools, a district she adores, amazing teachers she loves that have challenged her to grow, and a remarkable board. She hopes to bring the attitude of ‘Loving learning’ to Roswell.
When asked about RISD’s strength and weakness, McIlroy said she has noticed from an outside perspective RISD’s instructional infrastructure, curriculum, interim assessments, and data analysis systems, along with “amazing teachers and phenomenal administrators.” An immediate weakness she noticed that needs immediate addressing is the graduation rate. She added she is looking forward to dreaming bigger with a larger district and the first thing she is going to do is go on a listening tour to hear concerns and what the community thinks RISD’s strengths and weaknesses are.
McIlroy said she is a people person and wants to build relationships with people who trust her. She wants people to know they can contact her and get a response.
Dr. Gloria Rendon and Theresa Sias, with a consulting group associated with the New Mexico School Board Association of Santa Fe, worked with the RISD School Board and committee after September of last year to hire a new superintendent.
The superintendent search began following the resignation of Tom Burris, who stepped down after five years, citing his eligibility for retirement and his desire to spend more time with his children. Susan Sanchez was named interim superintendent in February 2017 after Burris’ recognition.
The applicant process was advertised at the beginning of January and the deadline for applications was Feb. 16. School board president Mona Kirk said there were 15 completed applications received and six were selected from that pool.
The finalists interviewed formally on Saturday at a special board meeting at Goddard High School. Another special board meeting at 9 a.m. Monday allowed the board to review the candidates again.
McIlroy has more than 30 years of experience in education with her Bachelor’s of Education and minors in counseling, human development, and sociology, and endorsement in English. Additionally, she has her Masters in Counseling and Human Development and earned her doctorate in educational management and leadership.
She said because psychology and counseling was her passion she was unsure that she would go back into the classroom, but being a substitute in Houston hooked her because of the energy and excitement unique to an educational setting.
Born in Farmington and raised Hobbs and Odessa because of her father’s occupation in the oilfield, McIlroy said she and her husband Marty have a deep and thorough understanding and love for New Mexico because they are products of the southeast. She graduated from Hobbs High School and met her husband in college at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. She and Marty have been together for 34 years and have three sons, two daughters-in-law and five grandchildren.
“My yardstick has always been if it is not good enough for my kid, it is not good enough for anybody else’s,” McIlroy said. “That is always the measure that I use and if a practice or a program, if a situation that occurs in a school, is not good enough for my babies — it is not good enough for your babies either, and so you have that commitment from me. I am just so blessed, fortunate and grateful that you are giving us this opportunity.”
City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at email@example.com.