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Educator takes post with state

Martha Roulette, who has been student services director for Washington County Public Schools, will begin her temporary job with

Martha Roulette, who has been student services director for Washington County Public Schools, will begin her temporary job with

January 13, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Special education has always been Martha Roulette's specialty, but now she's taking it to heart.

After 29 years with the Washington County Board of Education, Roulette, Washington County Public Schools' student services director, is moving temporarily to the Maryland State Department of Education, where she'll have the opportunity to share her specialty with the state's 24 school systems.

"I feel good about what I've accomplished here," she said. "It's really exciting."

She said the MSDE position, which will take effect March 1, has no time limit on it.

"It could be a long-term option, but I haven't planned anything yet," she said.

Roulette will be working as a special education specialist in the compliance department and will travel to different school systems to observe how they interact with their students.

"I won't be a complaint investigator, but I'll be figuring out ways to resolve problems," she said.

In her current role with the county school system, Roulette oversees pupil services, student placement and enrollment, and special education services.

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During her tenure she has helped establish a school nursing program, early intervention services and community services.

The school nursing program brings health workers from the Washington County Health Department into schools to help with sick children, Roulette said.

Early intervention is a service provided by the School Board to help some children, identified late with a disability, to work through their problems before they reach school age, she said.

Community services pulls in partnerships with members of the business community like the Mental Health Agency, which helps hold health programs after school for elementary and middle school students, she said.

"I'm proud of these things," she said.

She also was part of the school system that pushed for special education students to be included in public education.

"I developed a strong belief that most of the time the best education can be provided for a child if they can go to their neighborhood school," she said.

Roulette was principal of Marshall Street School, a specialized school with a range of services, in the early 1990s. Before she was recruited by the School Board, she worked with mentally retarded adults at the Association for Retarded Citizens.

She said one of the toughest parts of working in special education is resolving conflicts and the accompanying workload.

"If you're responsible for people, sometimes you worry about them," she said.

She said the school system is very fortunate to maintain and attract special education teachers to work with students.

County special education teachers work with about 2,900 students with a range of special needs, from speech and language problems to more rare severe emotional disturbances and autism, she said.

School Board President Bernadette M. Wagner said, "We know that the state looks for excellent educators to assist them with their mission."

She said the school system will miss Roulette's contributions.

"I'm actually close to being eligible to retire, but I'm not ready to not work," she said.

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