Surviving the Beginning Years as Director of Pupil Personnel Services/Special Education

October 18, 2018

An inviting carpet in the center of the meeting room set the tone for Surviving the Beginning Years as Director of Pupil Personnel Services/Special Education, a new program of Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES’s Center for Educational Leadership.
Participants from districts in Rockland, Westchester, and Dutchess Counties sat in a circle, joined by facilitators Dr. Lynn Allen, assistant superintendent of Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES; Selena Fischer, recently retired director of special education at Brewster Central School District; and MaryEllen Herzog, the about-to-retire assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services at Lakeland Central School District.
“We want you to be successful, effective, and prepared to advance—if that is what you wish,” said Dr. Allen. She noted that she had been Director of Pupil Personnel Services in the Adirondacks region and at Blind Brook-Rye Union Free School District. “We hope to be a resource for you.”
 “It can be a lonely position,” said Fischer. “Many of you are one-person departments. You will need colleagues inside and outside of your district. It’s this network of people that got me through thirty-five years!”
 “I’m the new Director of Special Education for the Dover School District,” said Jackie Carpel. “This is a whole new role for me. The word ‘surviving’ in the title of the program brought me here!”
 “I came from the classroom into this position,” said Dr. Letitia Payne, supervisor of secondary education at the Rye City School District. “I have a strong foundation, but I feel like I crossed into a different world.”
The three half-day workshop series will give new directors a network of colleagues to celebrate the successes and navigate the challenges related to their complex leadership positions. Participants will also gain knowledge of tasks including New York State reporting, budget development, staffing, and evaluations.  
“You’re starting in a system with many regulations,” said Herzog. “There’s a lot to share and offer each other so you can meet the needs of students.”