The new Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Director for New Fairfield Public Schools is Katherine Matz. Having joined the PPS department in 2016, and worked with all grades in the district, Matz is uniquely positioned to smoothly take up the reins when current Director Andrea Einhorn retires at the school year’s end.
Prior to joining New Fairfield Public Schools, Matz taught special education for several years in Newtown, holding supplemental positions as both a department chair and coordinator of the extended school year program. She followed that experience with the role of Education Director at a state-approved private special education facility in Litchfield that served adolescent girls placed into residential treatment by state agencies. In November of 2016, Matz began working in New Fairfield as the Secondary Special Education Supervisor, a role in which she was responsible for special education staff and services at NF Middle School and High School. For the 2018-2019 school year, she transitioned to the role of Elementary Supervisor. She’s spent this year supporting Meeting House Hill School and Consolidated School, including the Early Learning Center’s integrated preschool program.
Stepping into a department that has been leveled with communication complaints in the past, Matz is planning to not only leverage the communications strategies that her predecessor has put in place, but to pointedly offer even more information to families about their rights. She explained that, “The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is designed to protect students’ rights, but the result can feel confusing, bureaucratic, and cumbersome for families. I feel it’s our job as educators to help families navigate their rights and feel more comfortable and confident working with their children’s school teams.”
Matz is looking looking forward to working at the district level, where she will be collaborating much more closely with other directors and superintendents, though admits that it will be a challenge to step “…away from a lot of the direct work I have been doing with teachers and staff and handing that over to the supervisor.” Now responsible for keeping an even closer eye on the budget, and with special education costs on the rise for the district, Matz plans to continue investing in the staff to ultimately help hold costs in check, “Keeping our staff updated with professional development allows us to deliver high-quality instruction and services within the district rather than paying for the same expertise through outside resources.”
Matz says of her colleagues that she will be “…honored to be leading such a skilled and dedicated staff” when she assumes the PPS Director position on July 1. “I have been impressed by the entire PPS staff since I joined the district.” In her new role, Matz says that she would like, “…to continue to strengthen the collaboration between special education staff and classroom teachers, especially as the district refines its Response to Intervention (RTI) systems.”
Ms. Matz will be commuting from Middlebury, where she raises two dogs and a cat. On her time away from the PPS department, she will be happily hiking with the dogs, watching action movies, and traveling.
By Sarah Opdahl