• Brittany Pierce

Portland Public Schools Welcomes New Director of Secondary Education

Recently, Portland Public Schools added a new member to their team: Julie Hartman, the new Director of Secondary Education.

Although Hartman is new to Portland Public Schools (PPS), she is not new to the Portland area. Hartman is originally from Frankenmuth, but has been in Ionia County since 1998. Her roommate from her alma mater, Northern Michigan University, first introduced her to Portland.

“[The] Portland Community has provided me with many fond memories when I'd visit my college roommate and her family,” said Hartman.

From then, Hartman went on to make more memories in Portland with her young family. “I have two boys; John (14) and James (12). I love being their mom. John is a freshman and plays the trombone in marching band and jazz band. James is in 6th grade, plays the trumpet, and is working on a career as a lawyer. The kid can argue ANYTHING! When my boys were little, we came to Portland a lot to play on the playgrounds, walk the river trail, eat ice cream, and go bowling. Prior to being hired by PPS, I did consulting work for the district and through that formed some wonderful friendships,” she said.

Hartman graduated from NMU in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science and went on to earn her Secondary Teaching Degree in Biology and General Science from Saginaw Valley State University in 1998. Furthering her education, Hartman pursued a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a K-12 Administration Certificate from Western Michigan University. Hartman began her teaching career as an 8th grade science teacher at Ionia Middle School. However, after spending 10 years in a traditional classroom setting, Hartman served as a state and federal programs coordinator, a building principal, a science consultant, and a K-12 curriculum director.

“Each and every one of these roles (sometimes all at once) have pushed me out of my comfort zone to do the work that goes on behind the scenes so that teachers and students are supported to do their best work,” said Hartman.

Will Heath, the Superintendent of PPS, emphasized how Hartman’s previous experiences and stake in the community make her a great fit for PPS.

“Julie has worked in Ionia county in several different capacities and has built a strong network of relationships with other educators in our area. Her background knowledge on the majority of the educational practices that we are working on as a district, as well as her eagerness to be on our team, stood out to our hiring committee,” said Heath.

After 23 years of experience in Education, Hartman draws inspiration from the coworkers surrounding her.

“I was actually encouraged not to go into education [and] I am so glad I didn't listen because I can't imagine doing anything else,” said Hartman.

“I draw my inspiration from the people I have worked with in my career. When I was a young teacher, I worked with a truly incredible team of teachers and administrators who motivated, pushed, and supported me. As I moved into administrative and director roles, I continued to be inspired, challenged, and supported by my colleagues (teachers and administrators alike),” she said.

Hartman stated that her favorite aspects of Portland Public Schools are the welcoming atmosphere, the hard work and determination of the staff, and the wide variety of opportunities that the schools provide for students.

In her new role, Hartman is most looking forward to having the opportunity to support educators in this work. “To say that education is challenging is an understatement. Educators (teachers and administrators) are called upon to support students in ways their college experience never taught them,” said Hartman.

Her ability to support educators in these efforts excites her new team members at PPS.

“Julie is a dedicated curriculum and instruction person who really enjoys helping educators grow in their profession. She can walk the walk and talk the talk. This position is in many ways a perfect fit for her and what she wants to do in her career. Our staff and students will benefit from that fit,” said Heath.

Overall, Hartman looks forward to engaging with members of PPS to increase support to educators and further improve students’ educational experiences.

“Portland has a vision for ensuring that all educators have the focused support they need. As the Director of Secondary Education, I have the opportunity to give teachers and building principals that support so they can give their best to students. Educators never stop learning but it requires time to learn, implement, and hone new content, skills, and strategies. I am able to provide training, coaching, guidance, and support so that curriculum and instruction continually meets the demand of what students need at each stage in their education,” she said.

Heath explained that adding Julie to the team is a step in the right direction for PPS, as Director of Secondary Education is a new position for the district. Previously, one person was in charge of curriculum and instruction for the entire district.

“Over the past five years we have implemented a lot of positive change to our systems. As we continue to grow our staff needs more support. Having two high quality educators working with our staff to improve curriculum and instruction will provide twice the support. It will also allow our directors to be more involved and not spread thin across the district and therefore allowing them to dive deeper into each building,” said Heath.

Heath expressed confidence in Hartman’s abilities and previous experiences, and anticipates positive change by adding her to the PPS team in this new position.

“Having a Director for both Elementary and Secondary is a big step for our district. Our school board recognized the incredible amount of work that our staff has completed over the past five years to increase our educational standard and student support across the district. This position is a critical component for us to continue our work by supporting our staff. There is no doubt that this investment is an investment in our staff and our students. Julie has the skill set, knowledge, and personality to be successful in this position. Her success will be our success. We are excited to see what she can accomplish with our team,” said Heath.

Courtesy photos.

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