The Saline Board of Education voted 6-0 to hire Molly Garcia as the new Director of Student Services.
Superintendent Scot Graden recommended Garcia after an interview process that included a public forum earlier in August. Garcia will oversee the district’s special education program.
Graden said 45 people applied for the position. Garcia was one of three finalists for the position.
“We liked her experience, both as a director and as an educator with a breadth of experience in the classroom. She was highly recommended,” Graden said.
Garcia comes to Saline from Romulus, where she held a similar position. She said she hopes to grow in her new position.
“I kind of felt like a hermit shell. I need a new home. I think I’ve grown as far as I can (at Romulus). I’m looking for a new team to be a part of, to continue to bring innovative ideas to education, to be part of a team I can learn from,” Garcia said.
Garcia grew up in Ann Arbor and graduated from Ann Arbor Huron High School. She was also married in Saline and her family belongs to the Tri-County Sportsmen League – so she has some knowledge of the community.
“I know the story of Saline. I know that Saline has a long history of providing exceptional education to students. I wanted to be part of a district that was doing innovative things in education,” said Garcia, who lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and their two daughters. “I also knew I wanted to work closer to home.”
Garcia said she enjoyed talking with parents during the public interview. She said she was not surprised by the level of engagement with parents.
“It was nice to be able to meet with some of the families I’ll be working with,” Garcia said. “Parents with students in special education tend to be more involved because they have to be. There are the annual IEP meetings that they work through. There are unique challenges and struggles they face. The relationships they have with people making decisions is important. Having trust in that person is incredibly important to the parent.”
It was while Garcia was at Huron that she decided on special education for a career.
“I’ve always known I wanted to work with students who needed extra support or who had more challenges. We had a family friend in special education who described her job to me and I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” Garcia said.
Garcia earned a bachelor of arts degree in education, with an endorsement in special education, from Michigan State University.
Her first educator’s position was with emotionally impaired students at the Horizon House Day Treatment Center in North Charleston, S.C.
“I was looking to move out of Michigan. I was single and looking for an adventure and I had friends who lived in the area,” Garcia said.
In 2001 she came back to Michigan. She began working as special education teacher at Halecreek Elementary School in Romulus in 2002. She went back to school and earned her Masters of Arts degree in the art of curriculum and teacher from MSU. In Romulus schools, Garcia worked in special education at the elementary and secondary level.
In 2014 she was named Director of Special Service for Romulus Community Schools.
Garcia begins in Saline on Aug. 29.