Truly a special educator at Penta
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor
Saturday, 06 July 2013 06:13
Deb Haig plans on living the island life now that she’s retired from Penta Career Center.
|Penta’s Deb Haig is retiring as special education supervisor. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Haig retired June 28 as the center's supervisor of special education services and plans to spend much of this summer on Kelleys Island, where her family has a home.
She spent 17 years as a supervisor at Penta and previously served as job training coordinator there for 10 years.
"I really enjoy just working with the entire staff," she said, laughing, when asked which job she preferred.
Haig developed the job training program at Penta in 1986, calling it "a very exciting new initiative" from the state when the movement started to integrate special needs students into general classrooms.
The program at Penta is for students ages 16 to 22 to assist them in transferring from school to adult community life.
It's about "finding jobs for the kids," she said, whose disabilities range from very mild to those who need special support.
"The majority of students are served in general classes," Haig said. Attending Penta "gives them a jump start to their careers."
It was a natural progression for her to move into the supervisor's role, which oversees job training plus career assessments, vocational special education coordination, job coaching and intervention specialists.
Penta currently has a staff of 42 for approximately 425 special needs students.
In 2008, she was honored as the Special Education Educator of the Year from the Ohio Association of Career-Technical Education (Special Needs Division & Ohio Association of Supervisors and Coordinators for Exceptional Children).
She also serves on the Wood Lane Residential Services Board in Bowling Green. It's a post she's had for 14 years and plans to keep.
Greg Bair, chief executive officer for Wood Lane Residential Services, has known Haig for years. The two graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1977 and both ended up teaching at Wood Lane School.
"She's incredibly committed to serving people with disabilities and not just kids," Bair said. "She's a great board member (and) she's a great co-worker."
Haig's family immigrated to Kelleys Island; her grandmother was from Hungary and her grandfather from Ireland. The couple met and married on the island.
Haig's father, Ted Blatt, still lives on the island in a house built in the early 1920s. He's the island historian, she said, and has a collection of an estimated 36,000 keys in his garage.
A lot of immigrants settled on the island, which at the time was booming with quarries, vineyards and fishing.
There are 130 year-round residents on the island, Haig explained, braving the harsh winter weather and either flying to the mainland for supplies or taking snowmobiles across the frozen lake ice.
Haig does not plan to join them over the winter. Her father, now 88, spends his winters in Sandusky.
Haig will spend the summer as a part-time server at Seaway Marina Deli while her husband, Keith, who also retired from Penta this year, works full-time as a deck hand on the ferry boat to the island.
She's looking forward to hiking, biking and beaching.
Between visits to the island, she plans to spend time painting her Bowling Green home plus other odd jobs that were put on hold over the years.