Get to Know the DOE Team – Meet Barbara McGowen

Maine DOE Fiscal Coordinator Barbara McGowen is being highlighted this week as the part of a Get to know the DOE Team campaign! Learn a little more about Barbara in the brief question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Fiscal Coordinator for the Office of Special Services.  My team provides oversight of fiscal activities for the OSS teams, including, the State Agency Client Program, Due Process, Special Projects, IDEA and the Office of Special Services Grants and Contracts Program.  My team provides technical assistance and support to Maine administrators, working collaboratively with them to achieve federal and state fiscal compliance.

What do you like best about your job?

I love being able to play even a small role in supporting the education of Maine’s children.  My team works hard in tandem with SAUs to strengthen understanding of federal programs to create an environment of certainty and comfort.  I am blessed to be working with an incredible group of dedicated people who work tirelessly to make a difference in education.

How or why did you decide on this career?

My education and training background is in financial management.  I began my career in banking, eventually transitioning to work for a non-profit organization focused on creating opportunities for disenfranchised peoples.  I enjoyed the mission of the non-profit and the people I worked with.  When a position opened at the Department of Education it was at that moment in time when I was ready to let go of the endless search for funding and work to future retirement.  I am incredibly pleased to say that I have found a new mission supporting Maine’s educators, administrators and students.

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

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with family.  Family get-togethers, picnics, celebrations, traveling, camping, you name it and I am there.

Employee of the Week: Rhonda Casey

Business Manager in the Unorganized Territory , Rhonda Casey is being highlighted this week as the Maine DOE’s Employee of the Week! Learn a little more about Rhonda in this brief question and answer:

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Business Manager in the Unorganized Territory. My role within the DOE is to support education services for all residents of the unorganized territory, its students, staff who are employed by the UT, the UT schools, monitoring education expenses, establishing sufficient a budget, reporting yearly education expenses to the Department of Audit for reimbursement, monitoring federal grants and expenses.

What do you like best about your job?

I like the variety of my position, the people I work for and with. In my position, there is always something new or different to challenge me. I began employment with the state 1988 as a Clerk Typist I working for the Controller’s Office part-time. A few short months later a full-time position was offered to me filing tax certificates – not something that I enjoyed, but a full-time job none the less. Then in April of that same year, I began employment with what was known as Management Information Systems(MIS) within the Department of Education. Today, MIS is School Finance and Operations. I quickly found that I enjoyed the fast pace work of this agency as well as the variety of the position.

How or why did you decide on this career?

In high school I took the business track career path and began working as a secretary when I was very young. My parents taught me to work hard, do my best, keep an open mind, and to continue to learn and grow. In state government advancement opportunities were available, I worked hard and took advantages of opportunities when these opportunities presented themselves. My state career path has taken me from full-time filing to traveling from Kittery to Presque Isle to Vinalhaven, working with special education students to CEO’s, as well as teachers and parents.

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

This is an easy one! Outside of work I spend time with my husband of 27 years, our parents, two dogs, four children, their spouses, and five grandchildren. My husband and I like to disc golf, garden, go camping, fly fish, ice fish, ride our motorcycles, snowmobile, and snow shoe. I enjoy the four seasons Maine offers and we spend as much time outside as we can.

Employee of the Week: Leora Byras

Education Specialist Leora Byras is being highlighted this week as the Maine DOE’s Employee of the Week! Learn a little more about Leora in this brief question and answer:

What are your roles with DOE?

My position at the DOE is on the Public School Monitoring Team within the Special Services Department.  We work with public schools, regional programs and charter schools to ensure that children with disabilities have access to FAPE and the best programming possible to not only meet their needs, but to grow and thrive.  This includes professional development with the administration and teachers, and helping to oversee compliance to federal indicators.

What do you like best about your job?

I love to go out to the districts and meet the teachers, conduct professional development with them, and meet the children they teach.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I entered the field of special education over 25 years ago to help children who were not having positive experiences in school.  I was blessed to work alongside amazing people over the years who shared my vision of building a positive, welcoming classroom environment where children who had trauma backgrounds, or autism, for example,  would be welcomed and supported through their academic and emotional growth.

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

I recently joined a roller derby league (Go Androscoggin Fallen Angels!) and am having so much fun learning the sport!  I also love to read and do crafty things.

Employee of the Week: Trevor Burns

Student Data Coordinator, Trevor Burns is being highlighted this week as the Maine DOE’s Employee of the Week! Learn a little more about Trevor in this brief question and answer:

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Student Data Coordinator. I maintain student enrollment information to make sure there are no data anomalies within the system as well as to ensure all is accurate and correct. I also handle some reports done by the field throughout the year. Some of those reports include Graduation reporting, Quarterly Attendance reporting, October EPS reporting and Adult Education EF-M-39.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy seeing and learning more about the school system I grew up in myself. I am learning lots of things about schools and districts that I had only heard about growing up through my district of RSU 57. I actually didn’t know where most districts were even located in the state prior to starting at the MDOE.

How or why did you decide on this career?

I had just graduated from the University of Farmington with a degree in Actuarial Science. Looking for an internship; I had signed up for the Margaret Chase Smith Internship program, where they had selected me for a Data Analyst role. After spending some time in the internship, I had learned that I really enjoyed working with Data. Actuaries are known to work with and around data similar to data analysts, but the data analyst role focuses more primarily on the things I like; Data.

 

Employee of the Week: Eric Buckhalter

Assessment Team Office Associate, Eric Buckhulter is being highlighted this week as the Maine DOE’s Employee of the Week! Learn a little more about Eric in this brief question and answer:

What are your roles with DOE?

I am the Office Manager, Management Analyst, and Web Content Editor for the Assessment team. I perform admin duties, process contracts, and manage the content available on the assessment team’s web pages.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy assisting teachers and superintendents when I’m given the opportunity. Anything I can do to make their day run a little smoother has the potential to have a positive impact on students, and that’s who we’re all here to serve.

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

Spending time with my family and friends, singing, travelling, acting, cooking, drawing, and looking for any unique opportunities to socialize.