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High Desert Education Service District announces 2 new appointments

High Desert ESD

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- As part of its continuous quest to enhance region-wide support systems for Central Oregon students, the High Desert Education Service District has appointed Jim Boen as regional director of mental and behavioral health.

Boen, who previously served as executive director for secondary programs and counseling for Bend-La Pine Schools, will partner with Central Oregon school districts to build upon existing mental and behavioral health efforts and develop region-wide systems of support.

According to Shay Mikalson, HDESD’s chief student success officer, the new regional position is a product of the 2019 Student Success Act. The SSA, an unprecedented investment in the state’s education system, includes a focus on mental and behavioral health and academic achievement with a particular emphasis on students who have historically been underserved.

“We know that one in five children in our nation experience mental health challenges and that less than 20% are receiving the support they need,” said Mikalson. “In Central Oregon, we’re committed to trying to change those statistics and we believe schools play a primary role. HDESD and our district partners have been doing remarkable work in the area of mental and behavioral health and our goal is to amplify and accelerate that work by unifying and expanding upon it.”

Boen brings more than 28 years of experience in education to his new role and has served as an educator, school counselor and administrator for schools and districts in Western, Central, and Eastern Oregon.

“I’m excited to be a thought partner and advocate for schools and districts in our region as they design and refine mental and behavioral health services for students,” said Boen. “Together, we will build a region-wide system of support that provides students with tools and skills to help them problem-solve and resolve personal and interpersonal conflicts. Having the right tools and skills will help them stay more engaged in school.”

In this new role, Boen will also engage families and community-based organizations in the creation and implementation of a shared vision of improving students’ mental and behavioral health with a focus on equity, prevention and wellness. HDESD serves more than 40,000 kids in Crook and Deschutes counties.

“I see this position as a point person and facilitator -- a quarterback so-to-speak – for mental and behavioral health collaboration. I’m excited about being a thought partner and advocate for schools for districts in our region as we work to improve outcomes for our students.”

The High Desert ESD also announced it has appointed Amy McCormack to serve as director of Early Intervention Early Childhood Special Education.

McCormack brings more than 29 years of education experience to her new role. Starting her career as a teacher of students who are vision-impaired, she later worked as a teacher in special education. She most recently served as HDESD’s supervisor of EI/ECSE. Diane Tipton, HDESD’s long-time director of EI/ECSE, retired in June after more than 10 years in that role and more than 30 years in special education.

In her new position, McCormack is leading the planning, implementation and service of HDESD’s Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education programs.

HDESD’s Alyce Hatch Center serves as Central Oregon’s core location for EI/ECSE programs with teachers, specialists and administrative staff who provide referrals and comprehensive evaluations. The center is the hub for the program’s satellite locations in Deschutes County (Redmond, Sisters, and La Pine), Crook County (Prineville), and Jefferson County (Madras).

In all, 618 students are being served in the tri-county area. An average of 300 Central Oregon children benefit each year from the expertise of 80 HDESD specialists and educators. Services encompass programs for children birth to 5 years of age with disabilities, developmental delays, and also children at risk.

“I think that one of the most rewarding and probably one of my favorite parts of my work has been with children from birth to five-years-old and their families,” said McCormack.  “The relationships you develop with students and families and the support and encouragement you provide them during a very traumatic time is empowering and challenging at the same time.  I truly love the work and what is so incredible about the HDESD and EI/ECSE specifically, is all of the staff truly love what they do and it shows up every day in the services they provide to kids and families.”

HDESD EI/ECSE services are provided through direct and consultative methods and include:

Speech & Language Therapy                            

Physical Therapy

Vision Services                                                    

Occupational Therapy

Hearing Services                                 

Assistive Technology

Augmentative Communication                        

Autism Services

Parent Training

“Taking on the role of director is a gift and even though it will be quite challenging, I am so lucky to have an opportunity to continue to make a difference,” said McCormack. 

For more information about EI/ECSE services available in Central Oregon, contact Wendy Bell 


About High Desert Education Service District

HDESD is a publicly-funded agency that partners with local school districts to provide high quality, cost-effective and locally responsive educational services at a regional level. These services range from special education programs, business, legal and administrative support to school improvement efforts. HDESD 

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