Superintendent Interview Series

Ensuring Student Success: A Conversation with Superintendent Dr. Robert Sormani, Manor ISD


Daybreak Health CEO Alex Alvarado talks to Superintendents from across the country to discuss topics and trends affecting their school communities like chronic absenteeism, student mental health, academic outcomes, and more. These Superintendents represent districts from urban to rural, large to small, and range in their minority enrollment and number of students who are economically disadvantaged. Our goal is to capture different voices and perspectives on the challenges facing our schools today.

Ensuring Student Success: A Conversation with Superintendent Dr. Robert Sormani, Manor ISD

In our ongoing superintendent interview series, we had the privilege of sitting down with Superintendent Dr. Robert Sormani from Manor ISD in Texas to discuss and reflect on the achievements and priorities of the district halfway through the ‘23-’24 school year. Sormani, who is now well into his first year as the new superintendent, shared insights into the district's accomplishments and outlined the district's priorities for the future.


Among the significant accomplishments highlighted by Sormani was the district's remarkable growth, with a notable 5.6% increase in enrollment. This surge, equivalent to the addition of an entire elementary school's worth of students, reflects the community's growing confidence in the district. 

Sormani attributed this success to the dedicated efforts of the district's staff in building strong relationships and fostering an environment conducive to learning. He shared, “I always tell the staff that's all because of the work they're doing. Because these parents have a choice in our community and they're choosing us.” It starts with district leadership, the board of trustees and the superintendent, but when everybody who works at the district comes together, students feel that wraparound support.

As a fast growing district, a lot of people who aren’t originally from the area are moving in. Sometimes, schools are the first connection that they have to the community. Dr. Sormani and his team make sure to greet families, accept them, and welcome them into the community with different events. He shared, “You can’t miss the community building that happens when you laugh together.”


A key theme throughout the conversation was the importance of addressing student mental health as a precursor to academic success. Dr. Sormani emphasized the correlation between mental health and learning outcomes, stressing the need to provide comprehensive support services to students facing various challenges.

“When adults are feeling stressed, unsafe, worried, and concerned, they struggle to function and we have more coping skills than children do. So think about a child whose parents are fighting, maybe they are worried about being homeless," shared Dr. Sormani. "They're going to struggle to learn because they have less coping skills than adults do. We need to address these issues because they are a precursor to the ability to learn.”

Manor ISD has created a robust system of support so that there’s equitable access to school-based services. Dr. Sormani talked about how they are removing barriers that students may face to ensure they can be successful.

One of the ways Manor ISD is doing this is by providing access to Daybreak’s teletherapy services which allows students to meet with their therapists from school or at home at a time that is most convenient for them. These online sessions make it easier for families so that they don’t have to take time away from work and provide transportation for their child to access mental health support.  

Dr. Sormani shared that “kids come to school and expect to be safe.” He pushed district leaders to continue to advocate for funding at the legislative level for school-based mental health support for students. “These mental health supports are a part of our school systems and they’re going to be for now and for good,” he said.


Superintendent Sormani emphasized the importance of student voice in shaping district policies and programs. He started a student advisory committee where he meets with students regularly to empower them to advocate for change and actively participate in decision-making processes.

You must listen to students to “really get a pulse” on what is going on at every campus. They are so engaged and interested in improving things and helping their fellow students. There are things you “didn’t realize the kids were thinking and it really makes you a better leader.” He shares that Manor ISD is lucky to have such an amazing group of students who want to make a difference. 

In closing, Sormani offered advice to fellow superintendents, emphasizing the evolving nature of education and the importance of adapting to meet the changing needs of students and communities. By prioritizing relationships, equity, and student well-being, districts can create environments where all students can thrive.

Reflecting on our conversation with Superintendent Sormani, it's clear that Manor ISD is not only focused on academic excellence but also on nurturing the holistic development of every student to ensure that they succeed in school and in life. 

Downloadable Content

The State of Youth Mental Health & Our Schools

How schools are responding to the rising demand for student mental health services.