New director of school for deaf has big plans for the future

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FALMOUTH — The Gov. Baxter School for the Deaf on Mackworth Island hopes to grow and expand its scope over the next few years under a new director.

Owen J. Logue was hired this summer to lead the school.

The school is a key component of the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and is responsible for educating both pre-schoolers, as well as integrating older students into the Portland Public Schools.

Logue was born deaf and began his career in education teaching deaf students at Bangor High School.

He has a master’s degree in special education from the University of Maine and a doctorate in higher education leadership from Vanderbilt University.

Prior to accepting the executive director position at the Gov. Baxter School, Logue was also the associate dean of academics at the University of Maine.

He said he applied for the leadership post at the school for the deaf because “I sensed that this was the right time for me to lead this organization” and because of the “the incredible staff and School Board members.”

“I am working with such enthusiastic, knowledgeable and dedicated staff who give their all each and every day for the children and families they serve,” Logue said.

He credits his own family for providing him with all of the support and resources he needed to succeed, including the chance to compete in the Deaflympics for track and field in the early 1980s.

Logue is still an avid runner and is founder and president of the Acadian Running Camp, which supports 120 high school runners each summer. Many of the participants are from Portland-area schools.

He describes the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as “a complex organization that has several components.”

One of those is the nationally recognized pre-school program that teaches students to communicate both in spoken language and American Sign Language, Logue said.

The pre-school operates on Mackworth Island, while the center for the deaf also provides outreach services to over 500 deaf and hard of hearing students statewide.

Logue said the pre-school serves about 30 students and the Gov. Baxter School also directly supports about 30 more students in kindergarten through 12th grade, who attend mainstream programs at Portland’s East End Community School, Lyman Moore Middle School, Portland High School and Portland Arts and Technology High School, Logue said.

His responsibilities, he said, are “much like what is expected of any superintendent of school or director of special education. My responsibilities cover Mackworth Island, the Portland schools and outreach services for the state.”

As an organization, Logue said the Gov. Baxter School is “currently setting the national trend for our forward thinking in the way we are introducing both spoken language and American Sign Language in the classrooms.”

And, he said, “Our K-12 program is now embedded within the Portland Schools with great enthusiasm and success.”

The overall vision for the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Gov. Baxter School “is to expand and continually improve educational opportunities, programs and services for all children who are deaf and hard of hearing statewide,” the organization’s website states.

“I have many goals for the school,” Logue added. “I wish to transform the use of the existing facility on Mackworth Island (and) I also wish to showcase some of our exemplar programs.”

Logue is also proud of the work being done by the relatively new Percival Baxter Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children.

He said the foundation provides financial support for families to attend various special events and programs specifically designed for children who are deaf.

In addition, he said, the foundation will also now support professional development for staff, along with scholarships for graduating seniors.”

John Shattuck, president of the School Board at the Baxter School, said Logue was hired because of his background and experience, particularly in terms of his own educational attainments, as well as his abilities as an educator.

He said Logue has a history of “remarkable achievements, especially in special education and he had a good vision” for the school.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Owen J. Logue is the new director of the Gov. Baxter School for the Deaf on Mackworth Island. His hope is that the school can expand its services and programs to reach all deaf students statewide.

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