Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Robert Palmer

Maine DOE team member Robert Palmer is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Robert in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am Management Analyst II for the EANS (Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools) team. I make up the fiscal and procurement section of the EANS Team.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy assisting the Non Public Schools to better enable the children to learn more effectively in safe/secure environment.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I decided to work with the EANS team because I enjoy challenging myself. Working with Non-Public Schools and the ever changing funding sources provides a challenge that is always evolving. Being able to adapt and overcome each challenge while helping the schools is very rewarding.

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

I enjoy spending as much time outside as possible. Most of the time is spent hiking, hunting and fishing. If I am not outside, I can be found renovating my rental properties. I enjoy learning how to do things for myself and as any home owner knows, something always needs to be done.

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Titus O’Rourke

Maine DOE Team member Titus O’Rourke is being highlighted as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Titus in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Extended Eligibility and Transition Specialist with the Office of Special Services. I am in the process of creating, developing, and promoting effective transition initiatives that are student-centered and student-driven.

What do you like best about your job? 

First and foremost, I love my team members! They are the most kind yet passionate advocates who carve out pathways to securing IDEA requirements while being responsive to evolving learning research and exemplary educational practices. Yep, my team members are very kind and super intelligent. I am genuinely humbled to have been selected to work with this team of visionaries. And the cross-agency collaborative nature of my position not only improves outcomes for our Maine scholars with diverse needs but also allows me to meet highly-motivated, passionate LEA and SEA leads and leaders. 

How or why did you decide on this career?

As a former special education teacher, I found that the value of quality of transition planning as it ties to post-secondary success directly correlates to our graduation and dropout rates. Moreover, when our scholars successfully engage in quality and comprehensive transition support, it helps them realize their potential in life after high school. And who would not want a job that helps our kiddos realize their dreams?

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

  • Checking out what my community events have to offer,
  • Pull out the board games…and WIN!
  • Work in my garden, battling the weeds. Unfortunately, the weeds always win.
  • Go on a nature hike, and FISH! I love fishing!
  • Read a book or go to the library – for something other than reading.

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Jim Harford

Maine DOE team member Jim Harford is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Jim in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am a Maine Registered Architect working in the School Facilities and Transportation Department.  My title is School Construction Coordinator.  I am involved in the planning and construction of State funded school projects.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy working with my co-workers, and it is very satisfying after the years of effort it takes to design and build a school building to see it come to fruition and experiencing the excitement expressed when staff and students move into the new school and start the school year in a brand new facility.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I’ve always been interested in building things and architecture was always my first choice.  I’m not sure what I would have done if getting into an architecture school did not work out.  Besides working in architectural offices, in my younger years I also worked doing residential and commercial construction.

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

I always have home improvement and woodworking projects going.  I also enjoy gardening, playing golf, taking the dogs for a walk, watching the tides change, and reading.

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Jennifer Gleason

Maine DOE team member Jennifer Gleason is being highlighted as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Campaign. Learn a little more about Jennifer in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

Our team monitors and supports each public school district for compliance with IDEA and MUSER.  We love to provide technical assistance and professional development to special education teachers and administrators.  The team travels to every public school district, charter school, regional program, and CDS site over a four-year period.

What do you like best about your job?

The team is second to none and I get to see every part of Maine.  This picture of me and Saturn is from a recent trip to Presque Isle, where they have a scale-model of the solar system over 40 miles.  I also love visiting schools because I get to help put people at ease when we are coming to do an “audit.” By the time we leave, they understand that we are there to support them and it is a positive experience.  Basically, I love everything about my job.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I went through the process as a teacher and it was such a great learning experience that I wanted to be part of the team.

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

I love to hike with my pup, spend time with my 2 adult children, garden, read, and float in the pool.

Get to Know the Maine DOE Team: Meet Karen Barnes

Maine DOE Team member Karen Barnes is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the Maine DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Karen in the question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Behavioral Threat Assessment/Mental Health Coordinator for the Maine School Safety Center.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy feeling that we are making a difference in the lives of Maine children by working with school staff to identify students who may be at risk of committing acts of violence and providing interventions to support them and take them off the path of violence.  Maine educators work extremely hard to keep their school communities safe and it is truly an honor to work with them and support their efforts.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I was a school social worker for 25 years prior to coming to the MSSC and I chose this career because it is so fulfilling to support students and their families by connecting them with services.  To see students overcome obstacles and improve their quality of life is very gratifying.  Although my role at the MSSC is more of a macro level position, it continues to be rewarding as we support school staff who then support students and families.

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

I think a work/life balance is extremely important for our mental health.  When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my 3 grandsons and attending their sporting events, spending time with my children, camping, hiking, gardening and hunting with my husband.  My four sisters and I spend as much time with our dad as possible, and have yet to beat him at cornhole! I prioritize family time when I am not working.