Clarke Community School’s new Director of Special Education and Special Services, Jennifer Adams-Potter has been with the district for just a few months, but already sees opportunities to bring new systems and leadership to the role. With more than 20 years of special education experience, Ms. Adams-Potter enters the role as Clarke’s Special Education Director with proven skills in the development and management of special education programs.
For more than 20 years, Jennifer worked with Green Hills Area Education Agency (AEA), located in Osceola, Iowa. Green Hills AEA is one of nine AEAs across the state of Iowa created by the state legislature 40 years ago to “…provide equity, efficiency, and excellence in education across the state.”
Starting as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), Jennifer and the Green Hills team partnered with more than three dozen public school districts and six non-public accredited schools within a 17-county area in Southwest and South-Central Iowa, ultimately serving more than 39,000 students with special education needs.
One of Jennifer’s more notable accomplishments came when helped develop an action plan and professional development program for Speech-Language Pathologists across the state with the goal of developing consistent and equitable services and practices for students with disabilities. She went on to oversee the roll-out of that program through the State’s AEA systems.
After 12 years as SLP, Jennifer advanced to spend another 8 years as a Lead and Instructional Coach where she helped implement a number of administrative strategies and procedural systems to help make all of the districts they served more successful.
Finally, in her last two years with Green Hills Jennifer served as the State SLP Co-Lead for programs across the state.
“… I really dove deep into systems-thinking and developmental coaching,” said Jennifer. “That’s where I want to focus with Clarke – to not only help build a successful program that serves students across all grade levels but has the infrastructure to grow and flourish for the district.”
When discussing the opening for Special Education Director at Clarke, Jennifer saw tremendous opportunity to bring her systems-oriented background into a district that had a high-level of special education needs – from establishing protocols and systems for instructing students in ELL (English Language Learners) or systematic administration of IEP and 504 plans that help students with learning disabilities.
“Clarke has a team of very dedicated special education teachers,” said Potter. “We want to make sure we’re helping them connect with every student who may need help and that includes working with parents and the community as a whole.”
With the semester in full swing, Jennifer is finding her footing and getting to know the staff and students quickly.
“From the interview through the first few weeks of the semester, everyone I’ve met in district couldn’t have been more welcoming,” said Potter. “I feel I’ve found a place where I can add value in leadership and flourish alongside a great team of professionals.”
Jennifer lives in her hometown of Lamoni with her husband Garry – a law enforcement officer – and their youngest daughter who attends school there. They also have two grown children, one attending school in Missouri and another in Florida.