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New Directors for Special Ed and BREATHE

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New Directors for Special Ed and BREATHE
Posted on 09/01/2020
Jesse Applegate

The Portland Public Schools has added two new administrators: Jesse Applegate, Director of Student Support Services; and Christopher McCarthy, Director of the BREATHE Clinical & Behavioral Supports Program. They are filling positions left vacant due to retirements or staff moving on to other jobs.

Superintendent Xavier Botana highlighted the appointments at the Portland Board of Public Education’s Sept. 1 meeting.

“We welcome both of these leaders to our district’s exceptional leadership team,” Botana said. “They will be leading teams working with some of our most vulnerable students as we enter a ‘new normal’ in our hybrid return to school this fall. I’m confident Jesse’s and Chris’ knowledge, skills, and experiences will be key to ensuring that our students have optimal learning experiences while staying healthy and safe.”

More information on the recently appointed administrators is below:

Jesse Applegate, Director of Student Support Services: Jesse Applegate firmly believes that all students can achieve academic success as fully engaged members of their school communities. He was most recently at the New York City Department of Education, where he served as the Director of Special Education Academic Policy and Strategic Planning. Prior to that, Jesse worked with public correctional systems across the country to develop education programs for incarcerated students, and he has also been a special education teacher in New York City’s public schools. He holds master’s degrees in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and in special education from Brooklyn College. Jesse is thrilled to be coming to Maine with his family and joining the Portland Public Schools.

Christopher McCarthy, Director of the BREATHE Clinical & Behavioral Supports Program: Christopher McCarthy is joining the Portland Public Schools from the Brunswick School Department, where he was principal/director of the REAL (Relevant Experiential Authentic Learning) School, a day treatment school, since 2018. He brings a diverse background of program management and therapeutic administration, including 15 years with Eckerd Youth Alternatives, three years with the Maine Quality Forum and seven years in Integrated Health Services with Bath Iron Works. He’s also a past member of the Brunswick School Board and has coached lacrosse, football and basketball with the Brunswick schools. McCarthy holds a master’s degree in community psychology from Michigan State University and his bachelor’s degree is in special education and psychology from Lyndon State University. He has studied education law at the University of Southern Maine and special education law at the University of Vermont.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,750 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students – 35 percent – come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 60 languages. About 53 percent of the district’s students are white and 47 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced school lunch.
PHOTOS: (Above: Jesse Applegate, Director of Student Support Services. Below: Christopher McCarthy, Director of BREATHE Program.
Christopher McCarthy