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New leaders at Central Office, DHS

Deering High School has a new new assistant principal: Halima Noor. In addition, the Portland Public Schools has filled two key leadership positions at Central Office: Dr. Angela Atkinson Duina is executive director of elementary schools and Matthew Powers is the director of data and analytics. 

At its Aug. 1 meeting, the Board of Public Education approved Noor's appointment and was also introduced to Duina and Powers.

“We’re excited to add these strong leaders to our team for the 2023-2024 school year,” said Superintendent Ryan Scallon. “They all have the knowledge, skills, and experience to work to advance the achievement, whole student, people and equity goals of the Portland Promise, our strategic plan, and ensure that all Portland Public Schools students have an optimal learning experience.”

The appointment of Duina, who most recently was an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Southern Maine and who formerly served in an administrative capacity for the district, completes a restructuring of top district leadership that was set in motion during the FY24 budget process this past spring. Aaron Townsend, formerly assistant superintendent for school management and then interim co-superintendent for six months starting this past January, is now deputy superintendent. Dr. Abdullahi Ahmed, formerly interim assistant superintendent, is the executive director of secondary schools, and now Duina is stepping into the role of executive director of elementary schools.

Powers has extensive experience in data and assessment, most recently as a quality and data supervisor at Greater Portland Health. As the Portland Public Schools’ director of data and analytics, he will lead the district’s use of its data to understand and solve challenges.

Noor, who has been interim assistant principal at Deering since January, will join Principal Jake Giessman and Assistant Principal Alyson Dame as assistant principal at that school.

More information on the newly appointed administrators is below:

Dr. Angela Atkinson Duina, Executive Director of Elementary Schools: Angela returns to the Portland Public Schools from the University of Southern Maine, where she was assistant professor of educational leadership, while also coaching principals and leadership teams in a midcoast district. Prior to that, she worked in urban and rural settings in a variety of capacities: teacher (ESL, Spanish, language arts and science), middle school vice principal, summer program director, high school dean of faculty, and researcher/program evaluator. She previously worked for the Portland Public Schools from 2015 to 2018, where she served as Title I school improvement coordinator and then director of research, assessment and data. She was a 2017 John T. Gorman Fellow, focused on making measurable improvements in the lives of homeless youth.

Angela holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Boston University, a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, and a bachelor of arts in Spanish and psychology from Boston College.

For fun, Angela hangs out with her family and friends at home and in different parts of the world.  She is inspired by the lead role that elementary schools play in the district’s mission to ensure a challenging, relevant and joyful education that empowers every learner to make a difference in the world – while building relationships among families, educators and the community to promote healthy development and academic achievement.

Halima Noor, Assistant Principal, Deering High School: Halima is an immigrant to this country and followed an interesting path to get here. She is from Somalia but spent her early childhood in Russia – in Moscow. In 2004, she and her family immigrated to the United States. She lived in Lewiston until 2009 before moving to Portland and attending Lyman Moore Middle School. She graduated from Deering High School and completed  her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern Maine, majoring in history with a grade 7-12 educational pathway, and with a minor in race and ethnic studies. She is in her final year of studying for a master’s degree in educational leadership at USM.

Deering helped shape Halima into the person she is today. She began her teaching career in 2019 at Deering, and created and implemented the first AP for ALL students class in the district, teaching AP human geography to all ninth-graders at Deering. AP human geography was chosen because it's the most universal AP course in terms of connection to students’ culture, real world application and is rigorous for grade 9. The curriculum was built to ensure the vigor of the course while delivering proper supports, differentiation and scaffolds for all students to access the material.

Halima also was an advisor to many clubs, such as the Black Student Union, the Muslim Student Association and the Anime Club!

This past January, Halima was appointed to be Deering’s interim assistant principal while also continuing to teach. She is fluent in Somali and truly believes in the power of setting and holding students to high expectations. When the bar is set high and students are given the proper supports and scaffolds, then ALL students can achieve.

Halima believes in empowering students to be agents of change in their school and community, advocates of diversity and inclusivity in their classrooms, and community. She also believes in ensuring students are empowered to excel at the highest levels, while also giving them the tools to be empathic individuals, focused on fostering a kind, helpful and supportive school community.

Matthew Powers, Director of Data and Analytics: Matthew is joining the Portland Public Schools from Greater Portland Health, where he served as the quality and data supervisor for the healthcare system. Previously, he worked with public health consulting firms Hornby Zeller, Inc. and the Public Consulting Group, where he utilized a history of program evaluation and consulting experience, as well as a research background in data interpretation and statistics, to develop analytic and organizational capacity using change management practices and agency-wide data process education. His previous experience includes technical leadership on Maine DHHS, Office of Child and Family Services and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services as well as MECDC program evaluations. In his new role with the Portland Public Schools, Matthew looks forward to using his experience working with data to expand reporting capacity and continue to develop visual dashboards focused on improving student outcomes. He holds a master's degree in biological anthropology from the University of Cincinnati and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Wheaton College.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 49.8 percent of the district’s students are white and 50.2 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.