May leaves behind a long legacy in county schools

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 13, 2005

Outgoing Dallas County Schools Superintendent Wayne May said education is in his blood.

His great-uncle, Dr. Robert Earl Tidwell, was an elected State Superintendent. His grandmother and mother were both elementary school teachers.

Soon, May’s daughter will be continuing on with the family legacy.

Email newsletter signup

“She graduates next spring with a degree in education from Judson College,” May said.

It is this family history, combined with a love for children, that brought May into the field of education and kept him there for 32 years.

May will be leaving the schools behind next month to place more focus on his health, life and family.

May said he is looking forward to his retirement, primarily because he knows he is leaving the school system in capable hands.

In April the school board hired Dr. Fannie Major-McKenzie, a former administrator in the system, to take May’s place.

Major-McKenzie said so far the transition between the two superintendents has been seamless.

“I couldn’t have wished for a smoother transition,” Major-McKenzie said. “Mr. May made sure I met the appropriate people at the state department and had all the various documents in place.”

After working with a staff that offered him so much support and help over the years, May said, providing an easy transition was the least he could do.

When he took over the role of superintendent four years ago, May and his administrative staff inherited a $17 million debt.

“We were one of the poorest school systems in the state,” May said. “The system had a history of sound fiscal management, but unfortunately we inherited this large debt.”

Over time, May and his administrative team worked together to reduce spending by over $2 million a year.

“We did this by cutting back teacher units and consolidating our debt,” May said. “I’m proud to say we are moving forward to more sound fiscal management.”

Another achievement May accomplished during his term as superintendent was in the area of technology.

“Technology was nonexistent in the beginning of my administration,” May said. “Now we have a technology team that is second to none.”

Every school in the system has its own web page, which are linked to the system’s home web page.

Around 1,000 members of the system’s faculty and staff have received technology-related professional development, and each school is provided with a technology facilitator.

“The outstanding leadership in technology will be (May’s) legacy,” Major-McKenzie said.

May said he was also most proud of the system’s reading programs.

He added that most of the accolades for the system’s successes belong to the teachers, principals and other administration staff, who showed dedication despite the massive financial crisis.

“Even though we faced the severe cuts, moral was always up,” May said. “And we still maintained our Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation during that time for all schools.”

Susan Taylor, the system’s chief financial officer, described working for May as “a pleasure.”

“He has always been fair and has always been supportive,” she said.

Administrative Assistants Freeman Waller and Don Willingham both talked of how they worked with May as a team when making important decisions about the school system.

“He valued our input and sought our input,” Waller said “He allowed us to open the computer labs for parents at night and the parent classes at the Resource Learning Center.”

Willingham said the three-man team complimented each other, and worked off each other’s strength’s and weaknesses.

“We walked into a tough situation, and we managed to make those tough situations better,” he said.

May, who grew up in Greensboro, began his education career as a fifth-grade teacher at Valley Grande Elementary School.

He later moved up the ranks to become an assistant principal in both the elementary and high school level before becoming an administrative assistant.

May served the system as a administrative assistant for 20 years before being hired as superintendent.

The school system held a retirement reception for May on Thursday, May 12, to recognize the former superintendent’s accomplishments and bid their farewells.