GARDINER — Regional School Unit 11’s new curriculum director comes from a slightly different type of school, but she said the big picture is the same.

This is Katie Joseph’s first time working in a traditional school district. She was previously principal of a charter middle school in Boston.

“I come from a place where there are hard-working people who care about closing the achievement gap with every student,” Joseph said. “Even though things might be done differently here, it is very clear to me that a commonality is that people here are working very hard to increase student achievement.”

Joseph, 34, has succeeded Howard Tuttle, now superintendent of Somerville-based RSU 12. Joseph is being paid $75,000 and holds the title of director of curriculum and instruction. She also will be assistant superintendent once she earns the necessary Maine certification. RSU 11 covers Gardiner, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner.

Superintendent Pat Hopkins said a committee chose Joseph from among five or six candidates.

“Katie was heads above all of the other candidates,” Hopkins said. “We felt that she had the energy, the vision, the knowledge, the expertise that we were looking for to keep this district moving forward.”

Joseph grew up in Connecticut and attended Bowdoin College. She worked at Boston Collegiate Charter School — located in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood and educating about 550 students in grades five through 12 — starting in 2006, the last four years as middle school principal.

During Joseph’s time as principal, scores on Massachusetts’ standardized test rose sharply, to a level well above state averages.

Joseph said that happened because she and her staff rethought their approach to behavior, school culture and data.

In addressing behavior, the school shifted from negative consequences to positive incentives to ensure that students would be happy and ready to learn, Joseph said.

The staff also dug deep into data from interim assessments to identify individual students’ needs and provide tutoring or other supports for those who were struggling.

Joseph said she’s excited to work in RSU 11 because the district is working on similar things. RSU 11 is using the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports programs in some of its schools to improve student social behavior and academic performance and analyzing data from a range of assessments, such as Northwest Evaluation Association tests.

“I wanted to work in a place that was a community that was invested in continuing to grow and to promote that level of achievement and had made some steps toward getting better,” Joseph said.

Joseph’s work consist largely of two projects: aligning district curriculum with the Common Core State Standards and developing a teacher evaluation system as part of the district’s Teacher Incentive Fund grant.

Hopkins said Joseph will help other administrators learn effective classroom evaluation techniques and assist her in evaluating teachers at T.C. Hamlin School in Randolph, where the principal was eliminated as part of budget cuts this year.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]

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