Meet Margo Lentz
COMS, TVI, Mother & Grandmother, Artist, Mentor
Like many vision professionals, it was a mentor who first inspired Margo Lentz to go into the field of VI. “When I was in the special education program at UND, Myrna Olson came and spoke to our class. She had great passion for the field and spoke with such enthusiasm that I just had to check it out. Once I began looking into the specialty, I started to understand her passion. I started the classes, and the more I learned about visual impairment, the more I needed to know. I was shocked to hear that students were underserved, and expectations were not high for these students. I wanted to see that change. I knew this was where I needed to be.” For 18 years, the last 7 of them at NDVS/SB, she has helped lead that change in North Dakota, teaching students and adult clients the skills they need to be independent and successful. And, Margo has become a mentor herself.
What is your educational background?
I have a master’s in special education and TVI/COMS, as well as minors in philosophy/religious studies and psychology.
What is your role at NDVS/SB?
My main role at NDVS/SB would be a COMS, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist. My other role is to be a member of a fantastic team who can fill in whenever and wherever needed. I am a certified TVI so I have knowledge and the ability to assist in any aspect of the ECC.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
That is a difficult question to answer. The best part of the job is seeing people succeed when they thought they could not. The ability to move with confidence is critical to independence and self-worth, and I feel that I am a key player to make that happen and to ensure success for clients. I know most people view us vision professionals as altruistic, and that may be true for some, but I receive so much pleasure from my job that I would have to say my clients give me just as much as I give them. And this could not happen for me if I did not work under our current superintendent, Paul Olson. He allows his employees the appropriate amount of autonomy, and that brings personal satisfaction and value to my work and life.
What is your favorite lesson to teach?
I would have to say my favorite lesson to teach is the introduction to the white cane. This lesson requires many hours of training – from teaching specific cane techniques to the first independent steps. The reason this is my favorite is because you can see that pivotal moment when dependence and fear turn into confidence and independence. There are no words to describe it. All I can say is that when I see the client’s body language change from head down, shoulders rolled forward, fear on the face, and slow, calculated steps into a smiling face looking forward with their shoulders back and moving without fear, that moment can never be replaced.
Who are your clients?
I work with people from birth to death across the entire state of North Dakota. I work with the parents of infants who are blind or VI and teach them how to encourage those infants to move and explore without fear or injury. I go into schools across the state to provide services to students who need O&M training who otherwise would not receive it. There are very few COMS in the state, so I also teach family members, paras, and other teachers how to reinforce the skills that I introduce. I provide services to adults who lose their vision. I provide refresher training for individuals who have had training in the past but lost skills along the way. I provide information on the wide expanse of topics that O&M contains, including transportation, mobility apps, technology, canes, and guide dogs, and I also help clients and their family members and friends embrace their newfound independence.
What is something that may surprise people to learn about NDVS/SB?
People do not always realize that we work with everyone in the state of North Dakota that needs our services, not just children and young adults. When I see an older adult that has been referred to us, they often had no idea that we could help them, and they wished they knew about us years ago.
Tell us about your life outside of work.
I have two daughters and two granddaughters that bring me so much pleasure. I only have one sister who has two children and two grandchildren, so my family is quite small. I do however have a wonderful group of friends who have adopted me into their families, so I feel extremely blessed. I am a potter and painter. I am a member of Muddy Waters Clay Center which is owned and operated by their members. I am not so great at painting, but I am working towards creating art that I can be proud of! I enjoy my lake home with great intensity. I spend as much time on the water as I can, but of course that is dependent on my work commitments and the weather. I am a huge animal lover. I have two Great Danes and a cat who are an extremely important part of my life.
To contact Margo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 701-795-2723.