05/15/18 — Dunsmore among top three candidates for Duval County superintendent

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Dunsmore among top three candidates for Duval County superintendent

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on May 15, 2018 10:56 AM

Wayne County Public Schools Superintendent Michael Dunsmore is one step closer to a new job, after the Duval County School Board in Florida named him in their top three choices to lead the school system there Monday.

Dunsmore joins Manatee County Superintendent Diana Greene and Houston Independent School District Superintendent Erick Pruitt in the top three. The decision came after Dunsmore traveled to Florida Friday to take part in a public interview and focus group session with members of the board and Duval County residents. 

During his interview, Dunsmore said that he had not initially been looking for a new job -- he declined to apply for the Superintendent position in Wake County -- but simply saw the opportunity for what he called his "dream job" in a place where he and his wife could settle down for the rest of their lives.

"I think I'm blessed and fortunate that I have the option to pick and choose where we want to go," he said. "People ask me, particularly some of my colleagues, Wake County, which is the largest school system in North Carolina, they're finishing up their superintendent search. They say 'Dunsmore, why didn't you apply for that?' And I said I didn't want it. I wasn't looking for a job. But when the right fit comes along, I chose to go after that, and I'm blessed and honored to be here."

Dunsmore cited programs like the recent WCPS partnership with AP Exhaust and the Restart program at Goldsboro High as major accomplishments in his tenure in Wayne County. He said that at low-performing schools like Goldsboro High, a policy of listening to and valuing student experiences has begun to pay dividends.

During his interview, Dunsmore lauded the Wayne County community for stepping up to help students feel welcome at school.

"This year the first day of school, we had out community mentors in support. We had about 40 people show up for the first day of school. It was raining, it was absolutely miserable, but they were there with umbrellas to greet the kids, and it was the neatest thing I ever saw. In my entire career, I never saw that," he said. "These kids we see a slow turnaround with that because they have such challenges at home. They come to school because they want a safe environment and they want to learn."

The Duval County board will interview the three finalists each day from Wednesday through Friday, and is expected to choose their preferred candidate by 4 p.m. Friday.