Portland Press Herald education reporter Rachel Ohm leads a discussion among K-12 educators to find out what students, parents and teachers can expect when school resumes this fall. Guests include Gorham schools superintendent Heather Perry, South Portland elementary teacher Melissa-Jo Coombs and York choral director Rob Westerberg.

On the panel

Heather Perry, Superintendent of Gorham Public Schools

Heather Perry, Superintendent, Gorham Public Schools

Heather J. Perry is Superintendent of Schools for the Gorham School Department, Gorham, ME.  where she has served the community for the past 5 years.  The Gorham School Department serves approximately 2,800 students in Cumberland County, ME.  In her 23 years of experience as a Maine public school employee, she has worked her way up from the role of an Educational Technician, to a middle school social studies teacher, to a building principal, and now as a passionate Superintendent of Schools for the past 14 years.

She received her Ph.D. from the University of Southern Maine in Public Policy, her Masters of Educational Leadership from the University of Maine and her Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Maine at Machias.  She currently chairs the Maine School Superintendent’s Association (MSSA) State-wide Funding Committee and serves as a member of MSSA’s Executive Board.

Melissa-Jo Coombs, 5th grade teacher, Skillin Elementary School

Melissa-Jo Coombs, Skillin Elementary School

Melissa has taught at Skillin Elementary in South Portland since 2007 where she started as an ed tech, moved to teaching second grade for 10 years and has been in fifth grade for the last two years and counting. Besides being a classroom teacher she is also a part of the district’s grade level leadership team representing fifth grade in math/science.  When she is not teaching she is spending time with her family. This year she will have two second graders and a fifth grader at another school in South Portland.

Rob Westerberg, choral director, York High School

Rob Westerberg, York High Scool

Rob is Choral Director at York High School and the 2020 York County Teacher of the Year. Mr. Westerberg holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Keene State College and a Masters in Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Maine. He is co-founder of the nationally recognized Maine Arts Assessment Initiative, and a frequent guest clinician for proficiency based learning and reporting in music education. At York High School he established a graduation requirement specifically for music, making it the only public High School in the northeast to possess one. Westerberg has been professionally recognized by the Keene State College Department of Music, the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Choral Director’s Association. He has guest conducted over sixty Honors Choirs throughout New England, conducted the Maine Festival Chorus on the stage of Carnegie Hall and has been the director of the Portland Community Chorus for the past 15 years. He is past President of the Vermont Choral Directors Association, Vermont Music Educators Association and the Maine Music Educators Association.

Rachel Ohm, education reporter, Portland Press Herald 

Rachel Ohm, Portland Press Herald

Rachel covers K-12 schools, higher education and statewide education issues for the Press Herald. She previously covered Franklin and Somerset counties for the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and higher education at the Knoxville News Sentinel in Knoxville, Tennessee. Prior to her arrival in Maine, Rachel spent time in New York City and earned a master’s degree in journalism from New York University. A native of upstate New York, she loves the outdoorsy life in Maine and spends as much time hiking and exploring the coast as possible.



This event is for subscribers only, so please register with the email address linked to your subscription. Not a subscriber? SUBSCRIBE NOW to get access to this event.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: