Portland school hires take cues from business

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PORTLAND — With the start of the school year at hand, the Portland Public Schools has new faces in the administration.

Michael Derry was hired as the School Department’s technology services director, replacing Trey Bachner, who resigned this year to go into the private sector. Barbara Stoddard was hired as talent development strategy coordinator, which is a new position.

Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk said Derry’s role is to ensure there is operational, functional and user-friendly technology for faculty and students. He said a long-term goal with the technology department is to grow in instructional technology. He said part of this is ensuring teachers know how to use technology, and enhancing student learning and engagement.

“So we looked at all the technology in the classroom, making sure that everyone is skilled enough to use it to its maximum,” Caulk said.

Derry, a retired Navy chief, was the city’s deputy IT director. He was Aetna Insurance Co.’s IT security manager in Hartford, Connecticut, for seven years before coming to Portland in 2003. He graduated from Scarborough High School and Old Dominion University in Virginia.

Caulk said Stoddard’s job is to focus on investing in the staff, and keeping the turnover rate low. 

“We know that if we’re going to increase student outcome for all learners and create a great school district for a great city, it’s going to be with our staff and ways the we attract, recruit, develop and retain talented employees,” he said.

Stoddard will be recruiting, developing and retaining talented staff, as well as overseeing professional development and employee evaluations. Caulk compared it to development resources in the private sector.

“That particular position is so important because we’ve never had it in the organization,” he said.  

Stoddard has worked for the district for a year and a half as project manager for educator evaluation. She is also helping to design and implement a new evaluation system for teachers. She has worked in the municipal sector in finance, public policy, project management, training and development and program evaluation, and is a graduate of Cornell University.

Caulk said Stoddard’s position was “re-purposed” from human resources. While Derry’s position in IT was in previous fiscal years, Stoddard’s was formerly the assistant HR director to bring together professional development for both instructional and non-instructional employees.

He also said Stoddard’s position can’t be found in any other school district in Maine, but can be found in many businesses. He said that is because businesses understand the importance for talent acquisition and development.

“We want to be extremely competitive in terms of investing and growing our employees, in terms of the recruitment, development, and retention of talent,” Caulk said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.