Special Education

Tammy Holmes - Special Education Director



Tammy Holmes brings a career of over 25 years working directly with students with behavioral, emotional, and mental health needs and special education at all levels K-12. Tammy worked at the Maine Department of Education as a consultant in the Special Services Department and was part of initiatives focused on post-secondary transition, results-based accountability, and positive behavior support systems. She was an integral member of the monitoring team that reviews special education practices around the state. Prior to this she served as a special education teacher and consultant and was key in starting and expanding a day treatment program model in her district.

Tammy serves as a special education director at Baxter Academy. She holds Maine certification in teaching English and special education, as well as a special education director, special education consultant, assistant principal, and principal. She earned her Master's Degree from Capella University in Education Leadership. She prides herself on her patience and compassion in working with students and their families and helping everyone to work together. She believes highly in the Baxter mission and vision.

Tammy has 3 children. Her oldest, Zachary, will graduate with two bachelor degrees from UMO; one in vocal performance and one in music education. Her middle child, Sabrina, will be attending UMO as a freshman next year to also major in vocal performance and music education. Her youngest child, Gabriella, is very excited to be attending Baxter.

 Fun Facts: Tammy directs local community theatre. She is currently directing Maine's premiere of Matilda with a cast well over 100 members ages 5-75! She is a huge Harry Potter fan, has 3 cats and 2 dogs, and never misses an opportunity to take pictures or videos of her life. When not immersed in her work or theater, you can find her making memories with her family and friends and that almost always includes cooking, her other passion!

Shannon Fowler - Speech & Language Pathologist



Shannon C. Fowler is a Speech Language Pathologist from Mark R. Hammond Associates
Speech and Hearing Center (MRHA) in Portland.  She has worked for MRHA for 18 years
and is currently the Director of Clinical Services for Speech Language Pathology; this role
requires supervision of a number of clinicians and implementation of office policies and
procedures. Shannon provides direct and consultative services to students at Baxter as
well as preschool to young adult clients in the office setting.

Shannon attended the University of Maine at Farmington earning a Bachelors in
Communication Disorders and a Masters from Ithaca College in Speech Pathology.
 Shannon has experience in working with individuals and their educational and/or medical
teams to address needs related to speech-language development, augmentative
communication, social cognition, and executive functioning.  

Shannon has been married for nearly 18 years and is a mother of two children ages 16 and
13.  Within her community, she has volunteered as a Girl Scout leader, a coach for Girls on
The Run, a nationwide organization that serves to empower girls in grades 3-5 and as a
liaison for Heart and Soul-the sister organization that serves girls in grades 6-8.
Fun Facts:  Shannon loves home improvement projects, science fiction including Harry
Potter and Lord of the Rings, and is obsessed with the original NCIS television series.

Debra Gagne - Social Worker



With a background in case management, crisis intervention, therapeutic behavior interventions, trauma informed care and addiction there probably isn’t a story Deb hasn’t heard.  Working in special education has been very rewarding and an eye-opening experience.  “Watching students learn about their strengths and challenges, and overcoming any obstacles is very rewarding work.”  Deb is always there to lend an ear or help a student work out a problem.  She feels that the students teach her just as much as she teaches them.  Deb has attended multiple conferences on topics such as autism spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders and supporting lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.  

Deb received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern Maine and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor.  Prior to becoming a social worker Deb worked in the business field and was a stay-home mom for many years.  She is forever grateful for having the ability to stay home when her children were little. 

Deb is a proud parent of two teenagers, Sydney and Noah, who attend Biddeford High School. Deb has been married to her patient husband Mike for 25 years.  They are getting ready to send Noah off to college and like many other parents try to “keep it together” when discussing this topic.  Deb admits to being a “helicopter” parent and says “it’s just who I am.”  

Fun Facts: Deb loves gardening, the New England Patriots #TB12, Harry Potter, and fishing with her family.  She tends to get a little competitive when fishing, but says she often wins.  She also loves barbecuing in the summer and watching sunsets.  She encourages everyone to stop by her office anytime for a cup of tea!

Rachael Morrow - Special Education Teacher



Previous to joining Baxter, Ms. Morrow was with the Children’s Dyslexia Center, where she taught reading for 5 years.  She supports students at Baxter with reading, writing, and organization.  She loves working one on one with kids and believes that an essential part of supporting them is getting to know the students and their challenges.  She believes helping students to understand how they learn and how to advocate for what they need is one of the most important things educators can teach them.

Ms. Morrow has a BA in psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, along with a smattering of graduate work in special education.   She holds a targeted need certification in Special Education and is working toward full certification. 

Ms. Morrow loves to sew and has created costumes for a small army of fairy tale creatures, princesses, and pirates.  She can often be found at the beach – walking, reading or kayaking, and is the proud mama of two Baxter students.  Her favorite treat is chocolate (dark chocolate, sea salt caramels to be specific).

Brian Olson - Special Education Teacher



Brian Olson has been at Baxter Academy since we opened our doors and offers a wide experience with alternative learning programs. From the classrooms of California's juvenile justice system to the APEX environment of RSU 14, Mr. Olson has been committed to helping create communities of learners. He has coached in Freeport, worked in social justice schools in Brooklyn, and volunteered for non-profit initiatives around after-school learning. He has taught in the Caribbean, Thailand, and Central America.

Mr. Olson says, "I actively seek chances to impact the lives of our youth. I search out opportunities to serve as a catalyst for students pursuing their passions."

At Baxter, Brian assists the special education department, co-guides the student senate, teaches a cultural geography class, and facilitates music, art and gaming clubs. He draws on his background in print media, athletic organization, community activism, holistic wellness, martial arts, fiction writing, and outdoor education to build on the enrichment ideas of the community. He spearheads arts and athletic outreach.

He holds a degree in writing from Western Washington University, a Global Literacy teaching certificate from the New College of California, and an Educational Leadership CAS from USM. Brian has founded ten athletic teams, coaching five different sports for over 15 years.

Mr. Olson lives with his wife and two children in Portland.

Fun facts about Mr. Olson: He likes juicing and children's books, beat-boxing and kites. He can pull off a no-look pass. He is currently planning his Viking repatriation and perfecting his recipe for breakfast Dutch babies. He has more freckles than passport stamps, but just barely.

Molly Sullivan - Special Education Teacher



Molly has over 12 years of experience in special education.  Prior to 2014, she had worked primarily in early intervention, but she recently decided the challenge of teaching adolescents was appealing enough to make the move to high school.  Molly has studied autism spectrum disorder as it relates to gender, neurodevelopment and social thinking at the graduate level. Molly considers herself a passionate advocate for all students and cites her ability to create meaningful relationships with her students as the key component to her philosophy as an educator.  Molly is also certified as a behavioral health professional which allows her to continue her work with younger children on the autism spectrum.  

 In her spare time, Molly plays for Maine Roller Derby's all-star team The Port Authorities where she goes by the name Bea Nimble.  If Molly wasn’t a teacher, she would be an interior designer so she could spend all her time at flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales finding homes for discarded antiques.  Molly graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  She lives in South Portland with her beloved dog Lala.

Fun Facts about Molly:  She worked in reality television, is obsessed with true crime, has been a vegetarian for 20 years, can read tarot cards, talk astrology, and is wicked good on roller skates.