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by Paul Olson, Superintendent of NDVS/SB

Has anyone else noticed that the world has become a little complicated? We thought we were past the worst of the pandemic and now there are new concerns. I know we all hope and pray our school year goes well and we all stay healthy! The region is hampered by drought which has hurt area farmers and ranchers. This certainly affects all North Dakotans directly or indirectly. There has been considerable inflation and wages have not kept up making life stressful for many. These things are just plain hard; there’s no sense in sugar coating and let’s not even get into politics! I can’t believe I’m writing this. This must be one of the most depressing beginning of the year newsletter articles ever written and what does any of this have to do with our services? Uff Da! One might ask “is there any good news at all?" 

I say YES! There are great -- even amazing -- things happening around us every day. Yes, we live in a complex world with lots of troubles, but I think our blessings far outweigh our problems. We need look no farther that North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind to see amazing resilience, positive attitude and real success. As of June of this year I have spent my 30th consecutive year here and I can unequivocally state that we are having the most exciting and innovative year I have witnessed. How can that be? Its all about good people doing good work! 

Here are a few highlights:
•    First and foremost, we get to be a part of the success many students are experiencing in spite of all the challenges life throws at them. 
•    Once again a very supportive ND Governor’s office and ND Legislature granted us the resources needed to do our jobs the best we can with what we have. 
•    Unprecedented and energetic collaboration with the ND Association of the Blind to deliver consistent, high quality virtual support to adult clients.
•    Fantastic support from Lions Clubs and the ND Lions Foundation to support what we call the Little Room Project.
•    Some of the most creative instruction has been and is continuing to be delivered across the state by our phenomenal instructional staff.
•    Beautification of our gymnasium for recreation and hosting events—we even spiffed up our bathrooms. Come try them out. 
•    Completion of an in-depth survey of adult clients via a phone interview that will give us insight into improving services.
•    The creation of a mobile app for our staff to record services which are then converted to real time statistics to measure outcomes for students and clients.
•    We are starting a new advisory committee with the participation of some great partners, parents and students. 
•    Resumption of in-person short-term programs for students and adults.

The list could go on and on. Sure, we will have new challenges and problems this year and beyond, but at NDVS/SB are all about solving problems and moving forward no matter what. 

This is going to be a great school year! 

Contact Paul at 701-795-2717 or polson@nd.gov.


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