Special Education Faculty
Tammy Holmes - Assistant 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 and 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 lives with her husband Scott in Gray. They have four children and one grandchild. Their oldest daughter, Taylor, blessed them with their first granddaughter, Lucy, who is 1 1/2. Their son, Zachary, attends the University of Maine where he is in his junior year double majoring in music education and music performance with a vocal concentration in each. Their two youngest daughters are Gabriella, age 11, and Sabrina, age 16, who attend school in Gray where they both are active participants in school and community vocal and theater activities.
Fun Facts: Tammy directs musical theater in both Gray and Brunswick. One of her last plays, Beauty and the Beast, had over 100 cast members ages 4-74! She is a huge Harry Potter fan, has 4 cats and 1 dog, 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!
Tia Wilson -Special Education Services Coordinator
Tia joins us from the Yarmouth School Department, where she worked for ten years as the Special Education Assistant in their central office. Before working in Yarmouth, Tia spent five years as an administrative assistant at a fabrication mill in Lisbon Falls working on environmental protection and safety procedures. She brings with her a wealth of experience in business and technology. She graduated from Beal College in Bangor with an AS degree in Travel and Tourism & Business Management.
“My favorite part about Baxter is the community feel. On my very first day here, I actually felt like I had found my place… This is one of the most fascinating journeys I have ever been on, and I am loving every single second of it!”
Fun facts: Tia is a taphophile* (definition: someone who takes interest in cemeteries, tombstones, graves, funerals, or memories of past lives). In her free time she works as a Paranormal Investigator and has been interviewed by Downeast Magazine for an article on her cemetery restoration work with the town of Durham. She also enjoys being an Urban Explorer and photographing abandoned locations. Her work has been featured in several online publications. She is a member of her local Historical Society and Cemetery Committee and is the Durham Town Historian specializing in genealogy. She is also obsessed with chickens and owns 42 of them!
Shannon Fowler - Speech & Language Pathologist
Shannon Fowler is a Speech Language Pathologist from Mark R. Hammond Associates Speech and Hearing Center (HRHA) in Portland. She has worked for MRHA for 17 years and is the senior clinician offering both direct services to office clients and Baxter Students, and supervision to other clinicians in the practice. 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 17 years and is a mother of two middle school children. 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 - School Social Worker
Deb brings a passion for working with teenagers to Baxter. With a background in case management, crisis intervention, therapeutic behavior interventions, trauma informed care and addiction there probably isn’t a story she 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!
Daniele Gray - Special Education Teacher
Daniele received her undergraduate degree in 2000 from the University of Maine in Communication Sciences and Disorders. After graduation, she moved to Connecticut and worked as a special education tutor for two years at North Haven Middle School. This experience prompted her to go back to school to earn a Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Southern Maine in 2004.
Since then, she has been working as a special education teacher beginning at South Portland High School. There she taught for two years at an alternative, Off Campus Program, for boys living at a group home, Reardon’s Place. This group home was a short term (21 days or less) placement for these boys until a more permanent situation became available. From there, she worked as a special education teacher at Long Creek Youth Development Center in the Detention Unit. She had over 2000 students in her 8 years teaching there! Prior to Baxter Academy, she worked at Child Development Services for a year and a half which serves children ages Birth to 5 with special education needs.
She lives in Portland with her fiancé, 5 cats and 1 dog. She is excited to be getting married this summer!
Dustin LeVasseur - Regular & Special Education Ed Tech
Dustin LeVasseur is a music educator and musician who grew up in Northern Maine. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance from the University of Southern Maine, Dustin stayed in the southern Maine area as a working musician. After a short while, Dustin moved to New York City where he became fascinated with music and creativity as it relates to education and lifelong learning. While in NYC he received a Masters in Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. For seven years Dustin worked as a music specialist at the Calhoun School, where he was able to co-develop an elementary music exposure and creativity course.
Dustin is thrilled to be back in his home state of Maine to continue his work educator as a part of the wonderful Baxter Academy community. As an educator, he feels that good learning practices are rooted in trust.
Fun Facts about Dustin: He loves to cycle and his longest ride was from Brooklyn to Portland. He loves to explore cultures through cooking and music. Dustin is fascinated with turn-of-the-century France. He plays drums, guitar, bass, sings vocals, and writes music.
Rachael Morrow - Special Education Teacher
Ms. Morrow comes to Baxter from 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 brings to Baxter Academy 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.
Craig Reynolds - Special Education Ed Tech
Craig came to Baxter in the Fall of 2015 with a background in music and education. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Performance from the University of Maine at Augusta, Craig became involved in audio recording and music composition for film. Craig provided private guitar instruction for a few years before deciding to move down to the Portland area to explore the more creative side of Maine. After 5 years as a special education ed tech, Craig has developed a philosophy towards education that involves guiding students to use their creativity to reach their own conclusions and answers.
As a Maine native, Craig enjoys exploring the many lakes, rivers and mountains our great state has to offer on snowboard, bike or on foot. While he is not working at Baxter Academy, you can find him recording audio behind a camera, playing guitar in a coffee shop or digging in the dirt at his farm.
Molly Sullivan - Special Education Teacher
Molly comes to Baxter Academy with 10 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. She is currently in the process of being certified as a special education teacher in Maine. 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 coaches The R.I.P. Tides of Maine Roller Derby, 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 Portland with her partner Bobbi and their three silly dogs.
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.
Amanda Vickerson - Special Education Teacher
Amanda comes to Baxter’s special education department with experience from Gorham Middle & High School's behavior programs, Greely Middle School, where she was a behavior strategist and special education case manager, and a short, but lovely, stint at Portland High School.
Amanda is a life-long Mainer. She has a BA from Colby College in Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies with a minor in Human Development and an MSEd from the University of Southern Maine in Special Education. Amanda has also been involved with Dale Carnegie training for many years.
Amanda believes students can and will achieve anything when given safe spaces, proper supports, and cheerleaders. She was drawn to Baxter's individualized teaching approach, location in the heart of Portland, and strong emphasis on learning through real-life experiences. Amanda advises Baxter's GSA (Gender & Sexuality Alliance) and coordinated the 2017 Shawnee Peak ski program, even though she's never been on skis.
In addition to her public school experience, Amanda has been director of Gorham Recreation's Xtreme Teen summer camp for the past 6 years, where she gets kids adventuring and volunteering in the Greater Portland area.
Fun Facts: Amanda has a huge portion of her wardrobe dedicated to Cat Shirt Friday. She has a LOT of cats (5 is not too many, though her dog sometimes disagrees). She is a retired member of Maine Roller Derby and you will often see her skating around downtown Gorham on sunny days!