by Julia Lee & Sarah Wei, News Editor, Managing Editor
photo courtesy of Regulus
On July 1, special education department head Melissa Gamble will leave South to become Newton Public Schools’ Director of Secondary Special Education. In this new role, she will oversee the special education programs at both high schools and all four middle schools.
During her nine years at South and five as department head, Gamble instituted major developments within the special education department.
Gamble said some of her proudest accomplishments include streamlining the department’s evaluation process, creating the South school store and improving existing programs while implementing new ones.
Special education assistant department head Kimberly Borgida said that Gamble’s work expanding supportive programs has been influential.
“Melissa has had a profound impact in the special education department. She worked hard on the expansion of clinical staff and therapeutic support within South’s special education therapeutic programs,” she said. “She was also instrumental in creating a program catered towards students with language-based learning disabilities.”
Team specialist Carie Carnahan said that under Gamble’s leadership, the department has diversified its programs and extracurricular opportunities for students with disabilities.
Gamble’s work helped students set short-term goals in high school to support a long-term vision, special education department secretaries Laurie Callahan and Catherine Leone wrote in a joint June 6 email.
Transition specialist John Curley said that Gamble’s focus on creativity and connection has helped improve support and representation for students.
“Melissa always preaches ‘outside the box’ thinking, and I feel that has allowed the staff to come up with creative ways to support students over the past few years,” he said. “Melissa also values partnering with different departments within the school, different community members within Newton and agencies throughout the state. This has led to increased visibility, inclusion and opportunities for all students.”
Gamble’s passion for her work contributes greatly to her effective leadership, Borgida said.
“Melissa is a strong leader. She expels genuinity when supporting others in their professional and personal success,” she said. “I will miss the inspiring passion she had for supporting students with special needs.”
Gamble said that she is excited to implement the lessons she has learned and experiences she has gained into her new position.
“I have learned so much, especially from the teachers in my department. I have learned the importance of communicating clearly and honestly. I have also learned the importance of making decisions that are student-centered,” she said.
Carnahan said that Gamble’s experience will prepare her perfectly to lead at the district-level.
“I will miss her passion for supporting students at South, but am thrilled that she will bring that passion to supporting students across the district’s middle schools and high schools in her new role,” she said. “Her background in both teaching and special education law give her a unique skill set and perspective.”
Borgida said that she will miss Gamble’s dedication to her students and coworkers.
“Melissa has curated a fantastic working environment for our special education faculty. She is amazing at thinking outside the box for new ways to support students with special needs,” she said. “She has an incredibly impressive work ethic, and I, along with the rest of the department, will be forever grateful for her drive to create a safe, inclusive and equitable space for our students.”