TA News

Special Education Director to Retire After 41 Years Serving Students

Photo credit: Dan Grossman. Deb Sanders-Dame (right) and Molly Dugan-Sullivan volunteer at the Woods Trail Run registration table.

After serving students for more than four decades, Thetford Academy’s Director of Special Education Services, Dr. Deb Sanders-Dame, will retire at the end of the 2023-2024 school year. Sanders-Dame, also known as ‘Dr. Deb,’ came to TA in 2016 for the final chapter in her long career in special education leadership in Vermont and New Hampshire schools. She has had a deep, positive impact on the Academy and its students during her tenure.

At TA, Dr. Sanders-Dame leads the special education department, and is also a tireless supporter of the school’s culture and community. She serves on the admissions committee, the student support team, the graduation committee, and as a coach for TA’s growing softball program.

If an extra hand is needed and the task benefits students, Dr. Sanders-Dame is always on board. “Students are what keep you going every day,” she reflects. “And when you have a team of people who work together to make sure every student has what they need to thrive, it’s so rewarding.”

When asked what she’s most proud of in her career, Dr. Sanders-Dame noted her early involvement in developing work-based learning programs: “Work-based learning, getting students into real-world job experiences early, connects reluctant students with the benefit of the things they will learn in school.” Becoming a National Board Certified Teacher for special education was a highlight, she said, as was earning the honor of Vermont Student Council Adviser of the Year.

The choice to retire was difficult for Sanders-Dame. “You know, every year there are so many students who you want to be there for, to see get through. I had to come to the realization I will always feel that way – and there will be no good time to leave.”

But, she said, “It’s time for me and my husband to open the next chapter.” That chapter includes traveling with her husband, Brian, and their beloved corgi Moxie. Sanders-Dame is also excited to reconnect with and support the USA luge team; prior to her career in special education, Dr. Sanders-Dame was a national champion in the sport.

Thetford Academy will be opening a search for a new Director of Special Education Services in the coming weeks. It will be hard to say goodbye to ‘Dr. Deb’, but we are grateful for her service to our community and wish her a well-deserved and joyful retirement.



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