DeSoto ISD is Soaring Ahead

DeSoto ISD is Soaring Ahead: Hires New Superintendent, Welcomes New Trustee
Posted on 05/24/2022
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In a special called meeting on Monday, May 16, DeSoto ISD School Board trustees unanimously approved Dr. Usamah Rodgers as the new DeSoto ISD Superintendent and welcomed reelected trustee Cynthia Watson Banks (Place 1) and newly elected trustee Chasiti McKissic (Place 2) who replaced retiring longtime educator Trustee Kathy Goad.

Following the certification of the May 2022 election results before the community, the district expressed its appreciation for the diligent work of long-time education advocate Trustee Kathy Goad who served on the board of trustees for the last six years after retiring as a teacher from the district.

Clutching her crystal eagle appreciation award as she approached the podium, Trustee Goad in a flood of tears gave a tearful thank you to the community. “It has been my pleasure to serve the community. It has been 37 years since I began educating and serving children.”

In addition to her six years of service on the school board, Goad is a well-known active member of the DeSoto community who also worked as a DeSoto ISD teacher and mentor for 28 years. She also held the roles of WINGS – Where I Now Gain Success – dropout recovery program supervisor, the head of the Home Economics department, and the PALS program sponsor.

Trustees Banks and McKissic were sworn in by Dallas County Judge Valencia Nash (Precinct 1, JP Court 2). Trustee Watson-Banks is entering her second term on the DeSoto board and is excited about the opportunity to continue her service to the board. 

“I love children. I am a soldier for children and my tasks were not completed after the first term. The fight is not over until I see the success of our children, and the turnaround in our school and our community,” said Trustee Watson-Banks. “I am an elected leader but I believe that leadership comes from all of us.” 

The standing-room-only crowd began to cheer as newly elected trustee Chasiti McKissic was welcome to assume her seat on the dais by Board President Fleming.

Looking over the room, McKissic thanked her family and community and shared some additional sentiments as she begins her journey of advocacy started by former Trustee Goad.

“I have lived for this moment. Even as I was working here as an employee, I wanted to come back and work with our superintendent and our community. I am here, ready to serve and partner with our DeSoto ISD to walk this walk to restore our beloved DeSoto ISD to new and greater heights, ” said Trustee McKissic.

While she is new to the school board, McKissic has been deeply connected to DeSoto ISD for many years. She is a proud graduate, former parent and employee of the district serving in several leadership roles including Project-Based Learning Coordinator, Director of Investing in Innovation, Director of Schools, Exec. Director of Core Curriculum, Grants & Professional Development.

In addition to adding a new trustee to the board, the school community packed the district board room for hours to learn about the trustees' decision regarding the official hiring of the district’s new superintendent. 

Dr. Usamah Rodgers was previously selected as the Lone Finalist in April 2022 for the role of superintendent. 

On May 16, amid a standing-room-only crowd of anticipatory people from the school and DFW community, Board President DeAndrea Fleming announced the results of the vote as passing 7-0. 

Pausing to scan the room as it erupted with a myriad of cheers and sustained rounds of applause in support of the official hiring of Dr. Rodgers, Board President Fleming shared her sentiments. 

“What a journey for DeSoto ISD! Today is the day that we can move forward from the past. Too many times we hold on to the things of the past as if they are still happening in the future, and today we have just made history in moving forward,” she began. “I think that we have found the best leader that we can possibly find for DeSoto ISD.”  

DeSoto ISD launched its superintendent profile development meetings in December 2021 and hired Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry D. Lewis to lead the district through the conclusion of the 2021-22 academic school year. In January 2022, the listening sessions concluded initiating the application and interview process and then narrowed the field of 27 applicants down to five before reviewing two finalists before the Wednesday, April 20, 2022, special called meeting.

To the incoming Superintendent Dr. Usamah Rodgers, Board President Fleming extended her gratitude and the commitment of the trustees.

“Know that you have the support of this board to make things happen for children. They have been waiting, wanting, and have been watching and it is time to get to work,” said Board President Fleming. “We welcome Dr. Rogers to the cities of DeSoto and Glenn Heights as we serve students who attend school in DeSoto ISD.”

Taking in this announcement as she sat with her family, Dr. Rodgers came to the podium to address the board and community.

“Thank you for this opportunity to serve. I am delighted and excited to begin this journey. I do not take this responsibility lightly. I often say that this is heart work because you have to do it with your full heart and passion for the children that we serve. Ultimately, it is about them and their future and the difference that we will make for them collectively. I am excited to roll up my sleeves and work with everyone including parents and children,” began Superintendent Rodgers. 

During her remarks, Dr. Rodgers spoke about the rigorous hiring process, but more importantly about the heart of the board and the community to restore hope and possibility in the school system.

“We are standing on principles or precipice of possibility we will work together collectively in service and support of our students. Victory is in the classroom. Each day we are going to provide excellent opportunities for our students,” said Superintendent Dr. Rodgers. “We have to get it right for our students and my commitment is to serve our students. I am humbled, honored, and elated to serve my community.”

DeSoto ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodgers comes to the district as a noted, experienced and long-serving educator and leader. 

Dr. Rodgers’ ascension through the educational ranks began with her work as a teacher before becoming dean of instruction, assistant principal, and campus principal. Rodgers later transitioned to executive leadership roles as an executive director and, most recently, as the Deputy Chief of Strategic Initiatives in Dallas ISD, the 14th largest school system in the United States serving more than 150,000 students.

She holds a bachelor of science degree in Education from Missouri State University and a master’s and doctorate of education in educational leadership and administration from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Dr. Rodger’s impact on educational leadership is evidenced by several professional awards and achievements including but not limited to:

  • 2021 Future School Leaders Network (FSLN) Legacy Leadership Award     
  • 2020 Edvocate Best K-12 Leader Award     
  • 2017 Dallas NAACP Juanita Craft Education Award     
  • 2017 Ken Manous Alpha Honors     
  • 2014 Excellence in Education Award – Negro Business and Professional Women’s Garland Club 
  • The University of Texas at Austin – Cooperative Superintendency Fellow     
  • 2008-2009 - Cedar Hill ISD - Principal of the Year     
  • PTA Life Membership Award     
  • 2009 - Raise Your Hand Texas     
  • 2009 - Harvard Principals Institute - Participant

She will officially begin her superintendency role in the district on June 1.