Dr. Sandra Doran never saw herself working as a superintendent overseeing 32 schools, much less working with schools at all. In fact, she never even saw herself living in Florida.
After receiving her master’s degree in communication, Doran and her husband adopted their first child and challenges began. She felt like “the worst mother in the world because ADHD hadn’t been invented yet.” She wrote an article for parents in similar situations called, “Hard-Earned Advice for Parents at Wit’s End,” then began to research. As soon as she discovered attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), she wrote a second article for the same magazine. Later on, Focus on the Family re-printed the article and Doran started to receive mail from desperate parents worldwide.
After receiving bushels of mail, Doran returned to school for her doctorate in order to become a well-educated public speaker. She got on a train, went to Boston University, got in to see the head of the Education Department, and asked, “how do I get a degree?” He asked, “what do you want to become?” to which she replied, “that’s not the point – it’s what I want to know.”
Doran learned that her son had not just ADHD but dyslexia as well, which provided insight she could use to help not only her own son, but hundreds of other children as well. She completed her dissertation on brothers and sisters of children with ADHD and how they might be affected, then traveled across the country and the world speaking about her studies. However, this part of her career didn’t last long; her reputation caught the attention of a Christian school in need of assistance, and she was asked to serve as its interim principal for three weeks. She stayed for three years.
“At the end of the three years, I said, ‘A week shall be unto you a year, I have fulfilled my prophetic mission – I’m done!’ ” But no sooner had her three years ended than she was asked to take on a similar role at a struggling school where the last principal had left under high stress. “I opened the [principal’s] drawer and found two things: chewed off fingernails and aspirin. I knew I was in trouble,” said Doran.
It just so happened that it was time for the school’s evaluation while she was there. The evaluation team included a gentleman from Florida; specifically, a gentleman from the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. And he remembered her. So when an opening came up a few months later, she received a call asking her to interview for the associate superintendent position.
“I thought he was calling because he knew I needed to replace myself at the end of this year to get back into doing speaking gigs – which was my whole intention when I got the doctorate,” said Doran. “So I said, ‘You’re calling because you want the principal position?’ and he said, ‘No, I’m calling because I want you for the associate superintendent position!’ ” Her initial response was a hard and fast no, but curiosity got the better of her, and the more she learned, the more interested she became. After much prayer with her husband and a few “unmistakable signs” from God, the Dorans moved to Florida, where Dr. Sandra worked as the associate superintendent for the next 15 years.
The entire time she was there, she thought of what she learned at Boston University: about helping a child with ADHD, and how her younger son now had his own challenges. All of that was in her heart. And she continued learning. The associate superintendent position provided her with many invaluable opportunities to continue adding to her knowledge and experience. Through it all, she dreamed of “finding one place to pour all of her life lessons into,” one place where parents would know that their child was valued – ”whether that child was struggling with attentional issues, whether that child was gifted, [or] whether that child, like my younger son, was so artistic – exquisitely artistic – but was never offered the opportunity to shine in an academic setting.”
Enter: North Tampa Christian Academy. A grace-filled, Christian environment where students are treated as unique individuals and encouraged to pursue work with excellence and integrity, learning about compassion, critical thinking, and the importance of using education to solve solutions and bring beauty to the world.
As Head of School, Dr. Sandra Doran brings not only her head, but her heart to the table.
At North Tampa Christian Academy, a Christian school in Tampa, FL, the faculty, staff, and families work as a team. Our service-oriented approach builds Christian leaders who think deeply, choose wisely, create beauty, and use their dreams to solve problems. Want to learn more about what makes us different? Contact us today.