It always seems at NDVS/SB that every spring gets busier but perhaps that is just our perception. Either way, the first few months of 2019 have been a whirlwind of activity. Along with Tami Purcell and Laurie Westling, I spent considerable time preparing for and ultimately presenting our proposed budget to both the ND Senate and House of Representatives. The proposed budget will have been voted on and approved by the time you are reading this article. We believe that the funding we have requested will be granted which will allow for full staffing, a little improvement in our operating budget and some modest facility repair and improvement. We are very excited to make improvements in our Daily Living Skills classroom, for instance, where students and adults practice cooking among other important life skills. It is important to us that we have modern and functional learning spaces because we truly want to be the best small school/agency serving students with visual impairment in the nation. We are thankful to the legislature and Governor Burgum for supporting our services and those we serve. Between April 10-12 NDVS/SB hosted the Dakotas AER conference titled AER Alive. This was a fantastic opportunity for professionals in our field to network and learn together. Again, it is essential that we engage in state of the art training if we are going to be the best educators for our students and adult learners. This year we pulled in several national leaders in our field using Zoom Video conferencing. Our participants were then able to ask these leaders very specific questions as if they were in the same room. Our featured speakers were Dr. Tanni Anthony (who has roots in North Dakota) and Eric Guillory who is the Director of Youth Programs at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Dr. Anthony is an expert in many subjects, but she covered early instruction in orientation and mobility for children. Mr. Guillory spoke about transition and being independent as a person who is blind in his presentation titled “Doing Life Blind.” They both were amazing, and our participants went home reinvigorated. There is so much more to share but I will simply end by saying that NDVS/SB has the best staff imaginable. We look forward to an exciting summer of adult learning weeks, camps for three age groups of students and an exciting new biennium beginning July 1st .
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