An experienced educator and leader with a passion for special education and students with special needs, Nadine Harris has been named Director of Special Services for Northville Public Schools. The Northville Board of Education unanimously approved Harris’s appointment at its Tuesday, August 13, 2013 meeting. She succeeds William Brown, who is joining the Lenawee County Intermediate School District, where he will serve as Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Strategic Initiatives.
Harris, who will assume her new post on Monday, August 19, 2013, comes to Northville Public Schools from the North Service Unit in Muskegon County, Michigan, where she has served as the Director of Special Education for 14 years. In that role, she has been responsible for the planning and coordination of all special education services for five local school districts, working closely with the superintendents, district administrators, teachers and ancillary staff in each of the districts, as well as intermediate school district administration and staff.
As Director of Special Services for Northville Public Schools, Harris will be responsible for the school district’s preschool and K-12 special education programs, working in partnership with the district’s special education teachers, learning consultants, building principals and the Office of Instructional Services. She also will oversee the district’s special education center program at Cooke School. Financed through the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency and staffed by Northville educators, the center program serves severely cognitively and multiply impaired students from school districts across western Wayne County.
While at the North Service Unit, Harris oversaw $9.2 million in special education budgets; was responsible for writing and administering Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grants of $1.9 million; co-chaired the county-wide vocational redesign team; collaboratively developed a preschool screening model between special education, the Michigan Department of Education Great Start Readiness Program and Head Start; designed professional development opportunities for itinerant and instructional staff; and supported a Response to Intervention and Multi-tiered System of Support framework throughout the five districts.
Harris also served as a Supervisor of Special Education for the North Service Unit for 10 years before being promoted to director. Prior to joining the North Service Unit, Harris held a variety of positions in the field of special education, including a number of years as an early childhood special education teacher.
“Nadine comes to us with great depth of knowledge and experience as a leader, a special education director and an educator,” said Northville Superintendent Mary Kay Gallagher. “We are fortunate to have Nadine leading our special education programs and continuing to deepen our work in intervention and support for all students. Her experience, great enthusiasm for her work, and insight will enable us to build on these already strong programs.”
“Nadine’s skill set, collaborative nature and reflective approach to examining issues also will complement the district’s Central Office Leadership Team in its work to serve the needs of students across the educational continuum.”
Harris has a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Disabilities from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. She has her Director Approval from Grand Valley State University and is a member of the Michigan Association of Administrators of Special Education.
“I am looking forward to joining the Northville educational team and supporting Northville students and families,” Harris said. “The school district is known for its high standards and high student achievement and has been a pioneer in Response to Intervention as a way to help struggling students and support best practices for all students district-wide. The fact that the district’s special education population is consistently below state averages is a testament to the commitment of all stakeholders to support struggling students prior to looking at special education services or programs.”
“My philosophy in education is to focus on the student, teach relentlessly, coach for success, and acknowledge the gifts and talents possessed by each individual student,” Harris added.
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Harris also lived in Florida before settling in Michigan. Her daughter, Rachel, 22, is in her first year of medical school in West Virginia.