PhD in Public Policy

Diane R. Nadeau ’19, ’03, ’92

Career

Current position: Principal, Scarborough Middle School 

Diane has served in a number of roles during her educational career.  Beginning in Old Orchard Beach in 1992, Diane served first as a fourth-grade teacher, later as a literacy specialist, and finally as Assistant Principal. In 2006, she began working in the Bonny Eagle School District, wherein she obtained her first principal position, overseeing both Hollis Elementary School and the Eliza Libby School. During the eleven years she worked at Bonny Eagle, she went on to serve as principal of Buxton Center Elementary School and later of Bonny Eagle Middle School.   In 2017, Diane transitioned to the Scarborough Schools to work as principal of Scarborough Middle School. 

Degrees & Certifications:

  • PhD in Public Policy with a concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy, University of Southern Maine, 2019
  • Post Master’s Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Leadership, University of Southern Maine
  • MS in Literacy Education, University of Southern Maine, 2003
  • BS in Elementary Education, University of Southern Maine, 1992

Dissertation

Title: Addressing Critical Shortages: An Examination of Supports for Early Career Special Educators in Maine

Abstract: Alarming percentages of early career special educators, as many as 50%, leave education within five years (Edgar & Pair, 2005; Menlove, Garnes, & Salzberg, 2004; Plash & Piotrowski, 2006).  These statistics are cause for grave concern. The purpose of this survey research study was to discover early career special educators' perceptions of the induction support they received.

The findings of this research study suggest: (a) the majority of early career special educators report a gap in key knowledge areas; (b) most participants perceive the induction components/activities provided as no more than somewhat effective; (c) only half of participants had the benefit of a special education mentor; (d) support provided by mentors, administrators, and staff were perceived as no more than somewhat effective; (e) emotional support was rated higher than instructional support; (f) mentor and administrator support was not correlated to teachers’ intent to remain in special education; (g) inordinate amounts of time are expended to meet demands of increasingly complex roles; and (h) one-third of participants are undecided about their long-term commitment.

Given these findings, active steps need to be taken early to ensure that novice teachers have strong foundational knowledge. Attention must be given to increase equity of supports offered across districts.  Critical accountability measures to monitor policy implementation have been absent, much like the “lack of rigorous evaluation” nationally (Smith, 2007). Increased training of mentors and administrators would provide greater support for early career teachers. Consideration must be given to include guaranteed planning time, financial acknowledgment for time worked, and novel approaches to case management responsibilities.  Finally,  other next steps include differentiated salary structures and early financial incentives, such as restructuring loan forgiveness.

The ever-present shortage of special education teachers crosses all demographics and regions of Maine. Policy re-writes that address the unique needs of special educators and regionalizing efforts to support their growth offer great promise.  Although mandates are not popular in our locally-controlled state, a review of induction supports is sorely needed.