Monday, December 9, 2013

New special ed director thoroughly examines his new department - By Elizabeth Richards

Phillip Potenziano is new to his position as director of student services for RSU14, stepping into the role after long time director Linda Powell retired in June. Potenziano is no stranger to special services, however. He has been in the field for 13 years, most recently serving as the co-director of special services for SAD6.
Potenziano is originally from Maine, and attended public schools in the state. He received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine at Farmington, and then continued his education at the University of New Mexico where he earned a Masters degree in special education. He has also received a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern Maine, and is currently pursuing a doctorate degree at Boston College. 

Potenziano began at RSU14 on July 1st, with what he called an extensive entry and learning plan. He met with approximately 80 people, including staff and the special services parent organization, to ask questions and gather data on the district. Currently, he is reviewing the data gathered and hopes to identify some priorities in January. At the same time, the Maine Department of Education is conducting a special services review. Potenziano said it was great timing for the review, because it will serve as another data point in his learning process. The district does a self review first, and will submit approximately 100 student files to the state. The DOE will then conduct an onsite review in March.

His role in the district includes instructional support, special education services and 504 support for K to 12, and supporting health services programming, he said. He also works collaboratively with the director of the Sebago Educational Alliance day treatment program. 

Potenziano said a few things attracted him to the position at RSU14. He had known Powell through the Alliance board, and thought highly of her, so he knew that the program was in great shape. “Windham special services is thought of very well in the southern Maine region,” he said. 

 “I was also excited to work with Sandy Prince,” he added. “One of the things I’ve heard him talk about over the years is educational entrepreneurism, and getting people in the right places to do the right thing for kids.” 

Potenziano also said he wanted to get back to a K to 12 perspective. His role in SAD6 was as co-director. As such, they split the position differently in different years, alternating between elementary and middle/high school services. “This allows me the opportunity to look at that K to 12 programming which is nice,” he said. “It allows you to see the students the whole way through, and how the programs interface with one another. I was pretty excited about that.”

Potenziano is pleased by the forward thinking that he’s found in the district. This includes things like having a behavior consultant on staff, and interacting with the special services parent group to provide support and training. In January, a psychologist and a special education site coordinator will present for that group, and he hopes to keep providing the group with different aspects of training and support.

Other goals include looking at what services are needed for grades 9 to 12. A high school “think tank” made up of staff will incorporate data from parent questionnaires and take a look at 9 to 12 programming. Social/emotional behavioral supports and alignment of the programming from K to 12 are other areas that Potenziano would like to look at.

Potenziano has started an instructional services blog on the RSU14 district website, and is trying to get information out that way. The website contact information has also been updated so people know who to contact for support.

With 475 students receiving special education services, there is still a lot for Potenziano to learn. So far, his transition into RSU14 has been very smooth, which he credits to staff and parents in the district. “When I met with staff, everybody was really positive,” he said. “People are really excited about the programs that are being offered, and that’s nice.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.