HARVARD -- Michael Meyer is in a unique situation -- He said he understands the budgetary crisis many of the school districts across the state are going through because his job has been cut.
"My position of assistant administrator of special education was cut because of budget cuts in Weymouth," Meyer explained during a May 13 public hearing held to help find a new special education director for the Harvard public schools. "It put me on the job search again, and that's how I ended up here."
Meyer noted that identifying a child with special needs in middle and high schools can be a bit more difficult because the teachers don't have "ownership" of the students like they do in the elementary level.
"If we look at the elementary school models, you have one teacher responsible for a child for the entire day," said Meyer. "It's much more difficult in middle and high schools because the kids see different teachers throughout the day."
Meyer said he implemented a program of mentoring with various faculty and staff members in his old position
"We had 15 kids, and out of those 15, all but three are doing well," said Meyer. "We would meet with them weekly. The student I was mentoring, I would give him weekly goals, and if he met his goals I would buy him lunch."
When asked if he ever used a peer mentoring program as opposed to administration, Meyer said, "We use school adjustment counselors. We provide the training so kids are talking to kids. The school adjustment counselors are not actually counseling the kids, but they are there for them to talk to and get them the help they do need."
Meyer was also asked what he felt would be most challenging if he became special education director for Harvard public schools.
"I think you have to come in with an open mind," he said. "Some things work well, so you can't come in and break things up. You have to evaluate the programs and see what works and doesn't work before making changes.
"You need to have an ongoing view of the programs," he added. "You may have to collapse some of the programs because they are not needed any longer and move the people over to use the resources in other areas."
When asked what the advantages and disadvantages would be moving from a large school district to a smaller one, Meyer said, "I can get to know the staff and students real well. I have 1,400 special education students right now, so an advantage is I can get real up close and personal with the staff, kids, parents and all the players.
"A disadvantage is problem-solving has to be more unique here," he said. "I wouldn't have the depth of staff to help solve the problems."
Meyer is certified in elementary education, special education, and as a supervisor, director and administrator of special education.