BISMARCK, N.D., Sept. 12, 2022 – North Dakota State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced Monday that she has hired Donna Sorensen as the new superintendent of North Dakota’s School for the Deaf/Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Sorensen began work at the Devils Lake school earlier this month. She has been an administrator at schools serving the deaf in Montana, Washington, Alabama, and Mississippi, including eight years as outreach director and superintendent for the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind in Great Falls, from 2012 to 2020.
“We are delighted, and fortunate, to have a person of Donna’s background and expertise as the new superintendent of the School and Resource Center for the deaf,” Baesler said. “She brings a fresh perspective and outlook to providing services for North Dakotans who are deaf or hard of hearing.”
“I am excited to be joining the amazing team here,” Sorensen said. “I am impressed with the work that’s happening at the North Dakota School for the Deaf/Resource Center, and I look forward to being a small part of it.”
The school provides a comprehensive academic program for deaf or hard of hearing students from preschool through grade 8. Students in grades 9-12 attend Devils Lake High School with support from interpreters and teachers of the deaf.
The school’s outreach program also provides infant screening, sign language instruction, a referral service for sign language interpreters, workshops, consultation, and assessments for students in North Dakota’s public schools, and an adult outreach program that helps to determine the individual’s need for services.
Sorensen grew up in Alabama. She holds a bachelor’s degree in deaf education from the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Alabama, and earned a master’s degree at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., a private school that serves the deaf and hard of hearing.
Aside from her experience in Montana, Sorensen has been director of the Birmingham regional center for the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, superintendent of the Mississippi Schools for the Deaf and Blind in Jackson, and assistant principal and distance learning coordinator for the Washington School for the Deaf in Vancouver. For two years, Sorensen was a deaf education instructor in the Peace Corps in Kenya.
In addition to the Department of Public Instruction, Baesler oversees the School for the Deaf/Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Devils Lake, North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind in Grand Forks, and the State Library in Bismarck. She hires and supervises the top administrators at the three facilities.
Sorensen succeeds Dr. Connie Hovendick as superintendent. Hovendick served in the position for almost eight years before retiring in June 2022.