Janet Dougherty-Smith, a GSE alum, is retiring from the Clackamas Education Service District after many years as the Early Childhood/Special Education director. She modeled a relationship-based climate for her staff and is a valued partner to the GSE.
Ms. Dougherty-Smith graduated with a bachelor’s degree with a license to teach elementary school. Her first teaching job was in Idaho. Every year, she had students with special needs, so she decided to start taking classes in special education.
She moved to Oregon and finished her master’s degree in special education at PSU. During her time at PSU she worked with children who had autism.
In 1985, Ms. Dougherty-Smith became the coordinator of special education and early childhood special education at the Clackamas ESD. In 1997, when these two programs became very large, she became the director of the Early Childhood Department, which included the early intervention/early childhood special education and Oregon Head Start prekindergarten programs. In more recent years she added the Childcare Resource and Referral program and the Children’s Insurance Program to the department.
Ms. Dougherty-Smith’s partnership with Portland State University began as a master’s student and continued until her recent retirement from Clackamas ESD. Since the initialization of the Early Intervention Special Education program in Special Education, Ms. Dougherty-Smith has referred more that 25 of her educational assistants to our program. In addition, Clackamas ESD has employed more than 90 percent of those individuals as early interventionists/early childhood special educators. Those individuals continue their association with PSU as cooperating teachers, supervisors, and adjunct Instructors.
Ms. Dougherty-Smith modeled her values to her staff so they could model those to young children with special needs and their families. Those values include:
• Children should attend the regular preschool in their neighborhood regardless of the child’s ability level or the family’s income level. This has greatly influenced the Clackamas programs.
• All children should have access to good childcare and health insurance. She has worked hard to make sure this happens in Clackamas County.
• Everyone in the early childhood community should work for the good of ALL children. What is good for any child is good for kids in OHSPP and EI/ECSE.
• All of the Clackamas ESD early childhood programs should see each other as one program. Again, we are concerned about the needs of ALL children.