Portland hires new director for West Day Treatment Program

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PORTLAND — The School Department has hired special education teacher Susan Joakim to head the West Day Treatment Program.

Joakim joined the school system in 2012. Previously, she worked for 15 years in special education at other Maine school districts, including Biddeford and Kennebunk.

“Susan Joakim is an energetic and creative leader who will help us reinvigorate the West program,” Sharon Pray, the district’s director of student support services, said in a press release.

Joakim holds bachelor’s degrees in speech communications and education and a master’s in special education. She is enrolled in a doctorate program for special education leadership.

Previously, the program did not have a director. The role was filled by Erin Frazier, who worked as a teacher-leader, but did not have the authority to supervise and evaluate staff, Pray said.

Frazier left the school district this year to become Rockland’s director of special education.

Last week, the School Department signed a $75,000, 10-month lease to house the West program in the former Sampson D. Plummer Elementary School, 192 Middle Road in Falmouth. Other buildings on the property are currently being renovated to house medical offices and an Alzheimer’s and dementia care facility.

The West program, which serves about 40 students with emotional disabilities and mental health diagnoses, was previously housed in the West School on Douglass Street, but was forced to leave after the building became uninhabitable.

Most recently, it has been operating out the former Portland Catholic Diocese’s Kavanagh School, which will now be occupied by Portland Adult Education.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.

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