After 12 years of teaching special education in Fort Plain, Theodore Arndt felt he could use his experience to manage the entire program.
Now, as the new director of special education for the Fort Plain and the Canajoharie Central School districts, it's his job to make sure that students in both districts receive the services they need. That means if a student has an issue reading, it's up to him to match the student with a teacher or program that can help.
"I like to think of me as approachable and strategic," said Arndt. "The faculties in both districts have a lot to offer if we can provide them with a forum to show what they can do. Then we can even provide better services for our students."
Arndt's position represents another example of both districts sharing services. The two districts currently share a food services manager and will continue the transition to a central business office operation provided through HFM BOCES with other districts in the area.
"This is our first attempt at academically sharing services," said Fort Plain Superintendent Douglas Burton, "and it should be mutually beneficial for both districts."
Arndt, who lives in Fort Plain but was born in Washington, D.C., received his bachelor's degree in marine transportation and humanities from SUNY Maritime College, and his master's degree in special education from The College of Saint Rose.
He said he "loves the area" and looks forward to exploring the shared services between the two districts and considering the options where they can work together.
"In this position, I won't have the direct instruction with the kids, but I feel I have a greater influence over a number of kids," he said. "I think one of my strongest qualities is that I'm willing to listen. I'm at my best when we're sharing information."
In both districts, special education services can run the gamut from reading help to helping a student get around the school.
Arndt says there are a lot of people - especially celebrities - who've required special education services including Tom Cruise (who has dyslexia), Thomas Edison and John F. Kennedy. He said that needing special education services should not and does not mean a student can't achieve success in school and beyond.
"If we're doing our job right, the world will look at our students for what they have, not what they don't have," he said.