Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Interview With Mary-Ann Tucker, SDC Administrator, Special Education

1. Description of job and responsibilities:

I am responsible for placement of all full time special education students. Many of the decisions for placement are made through the referral system in Manager's Meetings, but ultimately they are my responsibility. I do the Administrative Placements, hire teaching staff, hire and monitor special education assistants, health assistants, AHI, and LVN's and make sure that there is adequate staffing to cover all special education classrooms and medical needs. I monitor budgets for the programs and contracts for providers. I am also responsible for transportation for all full time students, including Non Public and County Schools for our students. Ultimately it is my responsibility to make sure that the approximately 1,400 full time special educations students have what they need to be successful in the education process.

2. What inspired you to enter this profession?

My original vocation was nursing. I began my career as an RN working the pediatric ward at Kaiser in Oakland. I worked in nursing for 13 years, but it wasn't until I worked closely with my oldest daughter when she was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. I realized the different ways in which people learn. I went back to school to become a teacher. I taught in San Ramon for 12 years and was one of the first full inclusion teachers. It was a rich experience for me and prepared me for working with my youngest who was a full time special education student for five years. I bring medical background, parenting, and teaching experience to my profession.

3. What is your professional goal?

My ultimate goal is to assure that students have what they need to be successful. It is not about recognition, it is about seeing the gleam in their eye when they have the right answer, they are able to communicate, or they make a new friend.

4. What do you like best about your job?

I love my job because it is never dull. I have the opportunity to be out on sites, getting to know the students and the staff and to make sure that what these students need, they are able to have. I also love working with the parents. I have walked in their shoes and understand the challenges they and their student face every day. I love that I can learn something new every day.

5. If you could change anything about your job/services you provide, what would it be?

If I could change anything right now, it would probably be the budget issues that we are facing. We can and will do our best to serve our students, but if the federal government provided full funding for special education, there would be so much more we could do. I do want to continue to build continuums on school sites where students can go through their entire elementary school years on one campus without having to move to another site. This allows families to become an integral part of the school community and students to build relationships with their peers.
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