Dr. Rebecca Kassan named Director of Special Programs and Services

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Dr. Rebecca Kassan

Capital Region ESD 113 would like to welcome its new Director of Special Programs and Services, Dr. Rebecca Lynn Kassan, to the team. She joins us from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, where she was the Program Improvement Supervisor in special education.

“I’m settling in well and have a lot of support,” says Dr. Kassan. “I have a lot to learn, but everyone is very helpful. There are a lot of connections to make internally and externally. I’m looking forward to making those connections, meeting the people in the districts, and going into the field to see what’s unique and special about each school across the region.”

Dr. Kassan has a long involvement in special education. She began her career as an early childhood special education teacher and consultant in the Northwest Regional ESD in Oregon. Following that, she worked as an elementary special education teacher and then as an associate professor and program coordinator in teacher education at Pacific University in Oregon.

She developed an interest in disabilities early in her life while growing up with her stepsister, who had cerebral palsy. Seeing her stepsister’s challenges growing up, she knew she wanted to make a difference.

“I’ve been an educator my whole life, even as a child,” Dr. Kassan states. “I just liked teaching even as a young child, and recognized the barriers that exist in society for people that maybe didn’t have the same opportunities to develop social capital or grow and reach their potential.”

One of Dr. Kassan’s crowning achievements during her career was being the principal author of the Washington State Inclusionary Practices Handbook while working at OSPI. She considers it “a labor of love” after working with a committee of education professionals every week for two years to lay the framework and create content on inclusive practices for general and special education.

The handbook was a collaborative effort between general and special education to bring together the two spaces and meet the needs of students with disabilities by highlighting inclusionary practices in general education settings. Research has shown that participation in general education settings tends to help with social and academic growth.

“Inclusion is more possible when everyone feels that they have the tools and support that they need,” said Dr. Kassan.

Her main goal at ESD 113 is to support staff so they can provide quality services to districts. She’s hoping to find ways to grow and add value to schools and already believes the potential is there.

When Dr. Kassan is away from the office, she likes to spend time with her two dogs, ride her bike, hike, and travel. She regularly travels to San Cristobal de la Casas in Chiapas, Mexico, and has made many trips to Japan.