For Immediate Release: April 18, 2014
State Board Names Veteran Educator New Director of Special Education
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Board of Education voted today to hire a 20-year veteran special education teacher, advocate and administrator as the new director for special education.
Clinton resident Gretchen Cagle will assume the role April 21. She said she is excited to work with all stakeholders to improve the outcomes for students with disabilities in the state.
“I look forward to working towards our State Board goals as they relate to students receiving special education services. Literacy and professional development are two issues I’m passionate about because I feel teachers are our students’ most valuable resource. Providing teachers with more strategies to use in the classroom, particularly where reading instruction is concerned, will be one of the most effective ways to improve student outcomes,” she said.
Dr. Kim Benton, chief academic officer at the Mississippi Department of Education, said Cagle’s background in teaching, advocacy and district and state level administration gives her a unique perspective that will serve students with disabilities and their families well.
“Gretchen brings a wealth of experience to the director’s role, having previously served in positions that allow her to view special education from multiple advantage points. She has the knowledge, disposition and passion to move Mississippi’s special education forward in a positive manner. I am confident that under her leadership, outcomes and services for all of our students with disabilities will improve,” she said.
Cagle began her career teaching students with significant disabilities at Hudspeth Regional Center in Whitfield. She attended the acclaimed Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in Nashville where she worked as a graduate assistant and research assistant on a Peer Buddy research project and was published as a result of her contributions to the project.
Upon completion of her master's degree in special education for students with severe disabilities, she worked in the field of assistive technology and augmentative communication as the regional representative for the Prentke Romich company and as the Assistive Technology Unit (ATU) Facilitator at Hudspeth Regional Center. She left Hudspeth's ATU to become the director of training for Parent Partners, a non-profit organization that oversaw the parent training and information center grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs. There she worked with parents of students with disabilities, training on the principles of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and advocacy techniques to use in working with school districts.
During this time she completed coursework to obtain a license in psychometry and worked for the Rankin County School District as assistant director of special education. Her duties included working with the statewide assessment system, running the extended school year program, conflict resolution, and a variety of other administrative functions.
After eight years with Rankin County, she was selected as an Educator in Residence in the Office of Student Assessment at MDE. In this role, she has led Mississippi's transition to the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Alternate Assessment System and has represented Mississippi on the national level in the DLM consortium, the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Assessing Special Education Students work group, and the PARCC Accommodation, Accessibility, and Fairness work group.
This summer she will present at the National Conference on Student Assessment. Cagle is continuing her education and is a doctoral candidate at Delta State University.
# # #