Reposted from October 21st, 2022 FADSS newsletter.
Florida Association of District School Superintendents
Volusia County Schools Superintendent
Dr. Carmen Balgobin
You boast an impressive 23-year career in public education with an extensive background in both instructional and operational leadership having started as a foreign language teacher at Evans High School in Orange County Public Schools (your alma mater), then advancing to several district-level jobs in multi-lingual education, curriculum and instruction, and exceptional student education; moving on to school transformation work at as an assistant principal, principal and a master principal; before being put in charge of all 18 transformation schools in Orange County Public Schools. You then served served two years at Osceola County Schools overseeing all 32 of its charter schools, home education, and Osceola virtual, before taking the job as Deputy Superintendent in Volusia County Schools in January 2020.
Of all the positions you have held in public education which has been the most rewarding and why?
The most rewarding position I have held is that of being building principal. As a principal, I was able to create a culture that focused on transformational leadership and positive culture that impacted the lives of the students, staff, and the entire community. Being able to see firsthand how my vision as a leader influenced how transforming a school impacts a community, has truly been life changing as an educator.
You officially took the helm as Superintendent for Volusia County Schools (VCS) on July 1, 2022; however, you served as interim superintendent from July 2020 until February 2021, leading VCS through the COVID pandemic.
How did the experience of serving as Interim Superintendent influence your approach to the superintendency?
As an Interim Superintendent, leading a district through a global pandemic, I had to work closely and efficiently with all stakeholders to meet the needs of our community. This gave me an opportunity to truly experience the heart of Volusia County. This experience afforded me the background knowledge needed to officially take the helm as Superintendent of Volusia County Schools.
You have shared about your experience as an ESOL student, after your family moved to the United States from Venezuela when you were 16. How did that experience shape your experience as an educational leader?
As an ESOL student, I learned about determination and persistence. At a young age, my parents instilled in me that education is the great equalizer. Because of this, I believe that every student regardless of their ethnicity, socio-economic background, and/ or pre-disposed barriers, should be afforded the opportunity to be truly successful. Personally, using an individualized approach for assessing student’s strengths and opportunities for growth, ensuring that wrap-around services meet these needs, and monitoring at the school and district-based levels are key in helping improve outcomes for all students.
What is an innovative/impactful initiative in your school district that you are most proud of during your tenure as a superintendent?
As Superintendent, I am most proud of how my team is creating College and Career Technical pathways beginning at the middle school level. For the first time, Volusia County Schools have opened the first Dual Language Program where students develop bilingualism and biliteracy in both English and Spanish. Next year, this program will be expanded and we will be opening Foreign Language French Academies at select elementary schools. In addition, we have formed strategic business partnerships to offer our students internship opportunities that aligns with their program of studies.
According to the Florida Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents you are the state’s first Hispanic female superintendent. What does this incredible milestone mean to you?
As Volusia County’s first Hispanic Superintendent of Schools I want to be an inspiration for anyone that has immigrated to the states. With hard work, determination, and commitment, any person regardless of where they come from can succeed.
What do you feel is the most challenging barrier at this time in meeting the educational needs of students in your district?
I feel that the most challenging barrier at this time to meet the needs of my students in Volusia County Schools is mitigating the learning gap. Having a support system in place and being very intentional about students that have experienced an instructional gap is just as important as providing for students who need to be accelerated. As a result of Covid 19, unfortunately, we see so many more students who have been affected by this learning gap.
What do you feel is the most pressing issue facing public education as a whole?
The most pressing issue facing public education as a whole is the challenge of finding qualified individuals with a vested interest to serve in public education.
Outside of being a superintendent, what is something that your colleagues may not know about you that you would like to share.
I enjoy traveling and experiencing different cultures, foods, and traditions.
Individual you admire most for their positive impact on public education:
The individual I admire the most for their positive impact on public education is Mary Jane McLeod Bethune. She devoted her life to ensure the right to education and freedom from discrimination. A true trailblazer in education.
If you had to choose an animal that you feel is most representative of you, what animal would that be and why?
If I had to choose an animal that best represents me, I would have to say a Bear because they are known for their strength, courage, protection, nobility, and patience.
Any additional comments & thoughts you would like to share?
As a part of FADSS, I am grateful of the support and the level of camaraderie that exists among the members and organization.
“A sign of a good leader is not how many followers you have, but how many leaders you create.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Book you are currently or recently finished reading:
Connecting the Dots by Shannon K. Buerk
Visiting with students and teachers is not only a priority for Dr. Balgobin, she will tell you it is one of the highlights of being a Superintendent!
Community Information Services
Volusia County Schools
(386) 734-7190 ext. 20230