Get to know the DOE Team: Meet Erin Frazier

Maine DOE team member Erin Frazier is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to know the DOE team campaign. Learn a little more about Erin in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the State Director of Special Services Birth to 20. In this role I oversee services provided to students in special education. In the Special Services Department we work with all stakeholders to make sure students with disabilities are supported in their schools and in early learning centers.

What do you like best about your job?

I work with an incredible team of dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to support schools, teachers, students and parents of children with disabilities in Maine.  They make going to work every day exciting and fun. This job provides me with an opportunity to work with government agencies to support and advocate for children.

How or why did you decide on this career?

Before coming to the DOE, I worked in special education in a variety of roles throughout the state. I have always wanted to work at the Department to support students in Maine in a larger context.

What do you like to do outside of work for fun?

I recently moved, and I love walking with my dog on the countless trails near my  home and exploring a part of the state that’s new to me.  I also used to be a professional artist and still maintain close ties to the art community. I collect artwork made by local artists.

Get to know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Deqa Dhalac

Maine DOE Team member Deqa Dhalac is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to know the Maine DOE Team campaign. Learn a little more about Deqa in the brief question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Family Engagement and Cultural Responsiveness Specialist.

Studies show that family engagement in schools improves student achievement, social skills, reduces absenteeism, and restores parent trust in their schools.

What do you like best about your job?

I like the team that I work with. They are a group of people who cares about education and educators in way that is based on professionalism and integrity. I am lucky to be part of this team.

How or why did you decide on this career?

Previously I worked for the City of Portland’s Social Services Division, Refugees Services Program as a Human Services Councilor. Prior to that I worked for the City of Portland Public Health Division Minority Health Program as a community health outreach worker, The Center for Grieving Children as the Intercultural Program Manager, and The Opportunity Alliance as a South Portland Schools Community Builder. All of these jobs were based on education. I value and LOVE education, so when I saw this job I immediately applied knowing that I can bring to the table the passion and the experience that I have for education and I was lucky enough to be chosen.

What do you like to do outside of work for fun?

For the limited time availability that I have, I love to give back to the community by volunteering as much as can, I also love to cook and spend time with my family and friends.

Get to know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Tammy Ranger

Maine DOE team member Tamara (Tammy) Ranger is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Tammy in this brief question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Educator Excellence Team Coordinator in the Office of Higher Education and Educator Support Services. My work, along with other members of our team and MDOE staff, includes elevating and celebrating the teaching profession through educator recognition programs, such as the Maine Teacher of the Year/County Teacher of the Year program, National Board Certification, the #LoveTeaching Campaign, Teacher Appreciation week, and much more! In order to highlight, support, and leverage the heroic work happening daily in Maine’s public schools, we are exploring additional educator recognition programs and new opportunities for teacher leadership. Closely connected to these efforts is another major aspect of our work: Educator Recruitment and Retention. Stay tuned for more information about the #TeachMaine campaign and the work of the Educator Talent Committee!

How or why did you decide on this career?

Prior to coming to the MDOE last year, I taught middle school (literacy) in Skowhegan for nearly 20 years! I absolutely loved teaching—designing relevant and engaging lessons, building relationships with students (kids are the most amazing humans!), creating caring and respectful classrooms, learning and laughing alongside my students, challenging them, supporting them, and celebrating with them as they reached new goals, and yes, sometimes crying with them when life threw unexpected curveballs their way. A love for my kids, craft, and content fueled my passion for teaching and my desire to continue growing as an educator. I was fortunate to work in MSAD 54: a district that recognizes and supports teacher voice, autonomy, creativity, and leadership. During my time in MSAD 54, I earned my master’s degree, National Board Certification, was named the 2016 Somerset County Teacher of the Year, and the 2017 Maine Teacher of the Year. As the 2017 MTOY, my platform was “ensuring every student is taught by an accomplished educator.”  The work I’m doing here builds on that platform, which ultimately supports equitable, strong learning opportunities and outcomes for kids, and fosters continued growth, innovation, and excitement in Maine’s educator workforce!

What do you like to do outside of work for fun?

I thrive on a healthy lifestyle! Favorite outdoor activities include hiking, kayaking, and snowshoeing (yay for living in a beautiful state like Maine!). When inside, I enjoy yoga, weight-lifting, and time on my elliptical trainer (especially if I have an awesome playlist going!)  Cooking is fun–I like experimenting with plant-based recipes, and a daily meditation practice keeps me centered. Reading remains a favorite, and best of all is time with friends and family!

Get to know the DOE Team: Meet Gayle Erdheim

Maine DOE Team member Gayle Erdheim is being highlighted this week as part of the get to know the DOE Team campaign. Learn a little bit about Gayle in the brief question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Integrated Student Supports Team Leader in the DOE’s new Office of School and Student Supports.  My own work on that team includes serving as Maine’s coordinator for homeless education, truancy and dropout prevention, alternative education, bullying prevention, and restraints and seclusion monitoring.  Other members of my team coordinate initiatives in migrant foster care education, family engagement, social emotional learning, restorative practices, and cultural responsiveness.

What do you like best about your job?

I am fortunate to be in a role where I hear every day from schools, parents, human service providers, and concerned community members who are trying to find solutions to complex challenges that impact student success and well-being.  That keeps me connected to the reality of how our work plays out on the ground where it really matters.  I like being a partner in that kind of problem solving and appreciate the perspective it provides.

How or why did you decide on this career?

Hard to say.  After teaching math and science for many years, I fell into a position helping to create a university extension program in a maximum security prison.  That experience rocked my understanding of what I was supposed to be doing as an educator, and my current work here seems like a natural extension of the path I’ve been traveling ever since.

What do you like to do outside of work for fun?

I moved to Maine 3 years ago because it is the most beautiful place in the world! So I spend as much time as possible out of doors, hiking, gardening, canoeing, and keeping my dumb ducks out of trouble.

Get to know the DOE Team: Meet Karen Bergeron

Maine DOE team member Karen Bergeron is being highlighted this week as the part of a Get to know the DOE Team campaign! Learn a little more about Karen in the brief question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I work on the Early Learning Team and direct the Preschool Development Grant.  This grant, a collaboration with DHHS, is allowing the state to study it’s Birth-5 mixed delivery system to learn about strengths and needs in early childhood care and education as well as family supports and services.  The Needs Assessment was recently completed and the current focus is on completing a strategic plan to help plan for the future of the system.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy working with people across the B-5 sector and learning more about the great programs and organizations across the state. Additionally, as I come from early childhood education and social services, working with children up to 5, I am also enjoying learning more about the DOE and PK-12 education.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I become really interested in child development when I was in college.  For several years after, I worked in a variety of child care settings before returning to school for a Master’s in Child Development.  I then went on to work in Early Intervention and Home Visiting, enjoying the work of supporting the family as well as the child.  When the opportunity to work on this grant, it felt like a great fit, so here am I.

What do you like to do outside of work for fun?

I feel most of my outside time is spent keeping up with my teenage children (14 and 18) and attending all their sporting, music, and school events.  When there is true down time, I like to hike, alpine ski, hang out at our camp and getting together with friends and family.