The Jamestown Business Center has been my office home since 2000 when I started in this position. I was the first Outreach Coordinator hired specifically for Region 6 which includes an area of six counties. When I was hired initially, I served ages 0 to adult. Then around 2007, our school designated adult service providers so my contact with adults is pretty limited now.
I mainly work with the early intervention population 0- 3 and then school age 4-21. A large part of my job is completing Functional Visual Evaluations and providing recommendations and strategies to IEP teams to ensure the student is successful in accessing the curriculum. In the 0-3 age group, it’s about providing supports and resources to families and developing appropriate strategies to help the child make use of their vision and if necessary, sensory substitutions like tactual learning. My road to becoming a TVI was due to a former teaching colleague, Connie Osowski, who became a TVI and worked at NDVS/SB. Connie and I used to teach in Wing, ND and she suggested that I take a look at the vision program at UND. In the summer of 1998, I began taking vision courses over IVN, an interactive video network program.
The following summer, we traveled to Grand Forks to finish out the required course work to earn our credential/endorsement as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. I earned my first degree at Mary College, now the University of Mary. Back in my day, (I know an annoying statement for younger people) we didn’t have high school counselors to help us with career and college choices. It was at the last minute that I decided to go to Mary College. I remember seeing on my schedule that nursing was listed as my declared degree. I remember asking myself, do I want to be a nurse? In high school, I really enjoyed sports and I thought I wanted to do something where I can still be involved in sports so this steered me to education. I earned my Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and Physical Education and later I added my Kindergarten Endorsement.
This article probably should have been about celebrating my 20 years with NDSB and all the memorable happenings and technological changes that have occurred since I started. I have been so fortunate to work alongside so many dedicated and passionate staff members. And it goes without saying, the lessons I’ve learned from my students and families has been my best teacher. Along the way, I’ve met a few prominent individuals in this field, two of which I was fortunate enough to snap a picture. Below is Dr. Phil Hatlen, a legend in the field of vision. He is known for many successes and one that stands out for me is the Expanded Core Curriculum. This picture was taken when Dr. Hatlen was Superintendent at the Texas School for the Blind. The 2nd picture is with Dr. Lilli Nielson who is known for her educational approach called Active Learning. She authored many books on blindness and learning for children with multiple disabilities. I think it’s appropriate to close with one of Helen Keller’s famous quotes, “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much,” as in this field, it really takes a collaborative effort to create a successful educational journey for our students.