WASHINGTON STATE SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
November 13, 2020
Board Members Participating: Greg Szabo, Brent Stark, Keri Clark, Nancy McDaniel, Dennis Mathews, and Lily Clifton.
Board Members Absent: Reg George
Ex-Officio Members Participating: Jim Eccles (Washington Federation of State Employees Local #1225), Joleen Ferguson (Washington Council of the Blind), Marci Carpenter (National Federation of the Blind of Washington), Stephanie Face (Teacher Representative) and Krista Bulger (Parent Representative).
WSSB Staff Members Participating: Mr. Scott McCallum (Superintendent), Corey Grandstaff (Residential Program Manager) and Janet Kurz (recording secretary).
November 13, 2020 – 11am-12:30pm
Greg called the meeting to order at 11am. The meeting started with a roll call.
Approve board meeting minutes of September 25, 2020. Nancy moved to approve the minutes as submitted; Brent seconded the motion. The minutes were approved unanimously.
Department Highlight (Corey Grandstaff)
Corey thanked the Board for inviting him to the meeting. Corey reported that the past few months have been very interesting, and he wanted to provide a high-level overview for what has been occurring in the residential department.
The residential department did not open at the beginning of the school year which resulted in most of Corey’s staff being reduced to 50% work, which was challenging. Corey’s staff spent their time supporting students with tutoring, driving duties and independent living skills (ILS) instruction. On October 19, Corey’s staff returned full-time and as of November 1, three of the four cottages opened and welcomed some students back. Some students are utilizing Zoom, from their cottage rooms, to join some of their classes with the exception of braille classes, Orientation & Mobility (O&M) lessons, etc.
Due to Covid, there are a number of new protocols that have been put in place to keep students and staff safe. Some examples are: temperature checks when students return to the cottages from school, morning attestations relating to any symptoms and exposure, temperature checks before getting on the weekend charter busses, etc.
During this time, the WSSB is not sharing weekend/charter bus transportation with the Washington Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth (CDHY).
In the cottages, staff are adapting students’ normal routines, i.e. students have assigned ‘desks’ in the cottage dining rooms and have a system whereby they get their food, one at a time, and return to eat their meals. There has also had to be some compromise to ensure safety in the cottages, i.e. students have not started cooking meals on Wednesday’s as they have in prior years.
Corey and several other administrators from schools for the blind (California, Wisconsin, Texas and Tennessee) have started a “Residential Administrators” group. The group meets every two weeks to discuss the residential component, safety, staffing, etc.
In July, Corey’s responsibilities at the WSSB increased and he now oversees the transition department and health center; in addition to the residential department, recreation and weekend transportation.
Scott commended Corey and the residential department. Corey and his staff have been very flexible and creative while keeping student’s safety at the forefront. Scott visited the cottages, before the WSSB reopened the residential department, and was able to see the staff perform role play scenarios regarding safety. Scott is very impressed with Corey’s leadership and is happy to have Corey as a cabinet member of our leadership team. Scott also remarked that due to Corey’s leadership, he has seen an increase and level of respect between the education and residential departments.
Corey reported that he will complete his principal’s certification through Washington State University (WSU) at the beginning of May 2021.
Jim wanted to thank Corey for his help through the unemployment process when the staff was at 50% and enrolled in the Washington State ‘shared work program’. Corey took the lead in helping staff navigate through the application process.
Marci commended Corey for his hard work and asked how many students are in each cottage. Corey stated there are between 3 and 6 students each in the three cottages with a total of 13-15 students.
Brent visited the campus last week and Scott provided him a tour and he said he was very impressed with the work that has been done in each cottage to ensure safety, i.e. plexiglass, etc. Corey said it helps to have a great team and the flexibility his staff has shown throughout this has been great.
Greg asked how Corey feels the students have adapted to the changes. Corey said the students are adapting very well. Recreation, other than virtual, has not happened yet and he feels this may be impacting students. Corey said that seems to be the biggest impact.
Scott reported that currently we have approximately 20 students on campus (day and residential) in the 6-12 grade program, and six participants in the Learning Independence for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT) program with the remaining students joining via online learning.
Scott reported that October is the month where he usually travels to Kentucky to attend Council of Schools and Services for the Blind (COSB) and American Printing House for the Blind (APH) conferences. This year, all conferences have been held virtually, including the Washington Council for the Blind (WCB) and National Federation of the Blind (NFB) conventions. Sean McCormick, WSSB’s Director of On-Campus Programs was recognized as the 2020 COSB Outstanding Principal/Director of Programs, chosen from a national group while Linda Hagood, WSSB Speech Language-Pathologist, was recognized as the 2020 COSB Outstanding Related Services Provider. WSSB is often recognized for our amazing staff. This year, many of our students were recognized for their artwork through the APH Insights Arts Awards. This was presented virtually and is on YouTube (audio described). In non-Covid times, the students would have been invited to attend the APH meeting in Kentucky.
This year, the Pacific Northwest Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (PNW AER), WSSB, partners from the Lt Governor’s Office and the Governor’s Office, as well as a variety of other stakeholders came together to promote White Cane Day in Washington on October 15. Governor Inslee issued a White Cane Day Proclamation and the Lt. Governor’s Office hosted a website hub of information.
Washington Council of the Blind (Joleen Ferguson):
o Joleen reported that the WCB held their annual convention virtually, October 29-31. The WCB enjoys hearing from the directors of the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL), Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) and WSSB. Scott did a good job representing the WSSB. There was also a youth track at this year’s convention.
o The WCB started a diabetic special interest group this year and are in the planning stages of starting a new chapter in the Vancouver area.
o The ACB national convention will be held virtually this summer and the WCB is hoping to be able to have their 2021 fall convention in person, and there is some discussion about offering the convention in a hybrid model (in person and virtual).
National Federation of the Blind (Marci Carpenter):
o Marci reported that the NFB convention was held virtually November 6-8 and felt it went better than they could have ever expected. The NFB had incredible participation with many activities including crafting, student groups, panels, etc. The NFB was happy to have Scott join and participate, all weekend. In addition, employees from the DSB participated for most of the weekend. One of the highlights was the banquet speech by NFB’s national secretary, Jim Gashel. On Saturday afternoon, the NFB had an extraordinary panel with diverse voices who shared their experiences. They also held elections and passed resolutions, one having to do with education and accessing educational technology. During this convention, the NFB used a voting system called ExciteM and Marci feels it was the best $89 they could have spent. They held elections and voted on three resolutions.
o The National board hasn’t decided if they will hold the convention in person, virtually or offer a hybrid option. Their board will be making that decision by March 1.
o Annually, in late January/early February appointments are made with members of congress to discuss legislative agenda, testify at hearings, etc. Due to Covid, members of congress will not be in their offices, therefore, meetings will be set up virtually which enables many more members to participate.
o The NFB’s national scholarship program is open for applications (November 1 through March 31) for 30 scholarship opportunities that will be awarded the summer of 2021 at their convention. If the convention is held in person, it will be held in New Orleans.
o Another program that is quickly approaching is the “Braille Readers are Leaders” contest (starts December 1). This program is sponsored by the American Action Fund for children and adults and the contest runs through January 18. Participants are bracketed into age groups with prizes awarded for each age group.
Teachers (Stephanie Face):
o Stephanie mentioned that the student’s schedules were revamped to ensure that students spend less time on zoom. Each teacher is dealing with that in different ways. Discussion is being held about bringing more students back to campus as some students don’t learn well via distance learning. However, if the number of Covid cases continue to rise, teachers may have to pivot back to all online learning.
WSFE Local #1225 (Jim Eccles):
o Jim discussed the current state of Covid testing and tracing. Jim feels we have done a good job in mobilizing a mitigation plan. Mickey Marshall, WSSB’s custodial supervisor provided a 30-minute training to the LIFTT group. Jim feels we are taking the steps that we can, and we are being supportive of each other and that is good.
Parent Representative (Krista Bulger):
o Krista reported that due to Covid, communication amongst parents hasn’t been what it was in prior years. Krista feels that a lot of parents are just trying to stay afloat, especially when they have children with different age groups, those who are working, etc.
o Krista is enrolled in a class and has four weeks left and stated that working, going to school and parenting in the Covid era has not been easy.
o Krista said generally speaking, every family has a different perspective whether students should be back on campus. Krista said she can’t imagine being in administration having to weigh the cost and risks at a time like this and that some families have anxiety about sending students back in a residential capacity. Krista is looking forward to being in the future and looking back and feeling proud of how we handled it. Also, there are many different parent perspectives regarding how much ‘screen’ time students are required to have. She has been receiving feedback on both sides.
o Marci complimented Krista and stated that one of the sessions they had at the NFB convention was a panel of blind parents. Marci wanted to remind people that any platform that is used needs to be fully accessible to blind parents. Blind parents are having some of the same issues and are unable to access the platforms that their kids are using.
o Krista wanted to thank Scott for a recent interaction they had on campus. Scott listened to Krista’s perspective as she was reflecting on being a parent and employee and she appreciated Scott listening to her and she felt better after speaking to him.
o Keri said Covid fatigue is real, she has experienced it. Keri said she was buried in stress so deep that it directly affected her. Keri feels the WSSB is doing a remarkable job and we need to forgive ourselves for how much we expect ourselves to do and just knowing that coping with everything we have on our plates is a lot. Keri shared a phone number with the group that is a Washington state specific avenue to express your thoughts and feelings; it is called ‘Washington Listens’ (1-833-681-0211). Keri said this is one of the highlights of her year (getting together with the board).
o Greg said both his grandparents got sick with health issues and he is working from Illinois and appreciates being able to zoom into meetings.
o Brent stated he was in Vancouver last week and met Scott at the CDHY and it was quiet as there are no students on campus yet. Scott took Brent on a tour of the WSSB and he was amazed at the thoughtfulness and attention to detail; Brent had to check in, submit to a questionnaire, check out when he left, and when he walked through the hallways a motion sensor went off (Alexa technology) to remind staff, students and visitors regarding safety precautions. In the Irwin school building, there were approximately 100 boxes lined up against the Sherman Auditorium wall, set up for materials that get sent home to students every week. The WSSB also sends home food for families in need. Brent said there were teachers doing zoom classes with social distancing set up in their classrooms and it is very impressive the work the entire staff has gone through to meet the needs of students. Scott said it is highly regulated at the school with lots of new procedures and guidance that we all follow. Scott feels it isn’t ideal and he is worried about our kids having fun and being social and we are still trying to figure out how to do that safely.
o Marci asked Scott about the potential use of our pool for recreation for students. Marci said one of the pools in her area is going to be opening on an appointment-only basis, where one person at a time can access the pool and then all areas will be cleaned. Scott said we are contemplating that. Scott said the pool is a very important part of our campus and programs. Scott said it is still not safe to have volunteers on campus and we are trying to figure out how to staff recreation, pool use, etc.
Buildings and Grounds Committee: No update at this time.
Management Committee: No update at this time.
Legislative Committee: No update at this time.
Lily asked if there is a plan for staff appreciation. Scott reported that this year the WSSB purchased masks and hand sanitizers and that a committee has been formed to look at how we can appreciate staff. Krista said the family group would like to plan a teacher appreciation, but she doesn’t want to put anything else on family’s plates. Dennis said he works with Habitat for Humanity and there is an annual appreciation for volunteers. This year Habitat asked if the volunteers would be willing to ‘give’ so they can support families who are struggling. Lily asked if there is anything the board would like to do. Lily is on a smaller board for a non-profit and realized they need to do something for their staff. Scott asked if people have ideas to send them to either Scott or Janet. Marci said they all appreciate what the staff is doing at the school. Stephanie said that the staff would like to find a way to appreciate families as they are having to step up as well.
Nancy thanked Scott for the WSSB face masks that were provided to the Board. Keri said she loves her mask and she is proud to wear it.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 12:30pm. The next Board meeting will be held virtually on January 13 at 7:30pm.
Greg Szabo, Chair Scott McCallum, Superintendent
Board Reports – November 2020
The WSSB Outreach team continues to push past their comfort levels and rise above the strain of our current situation.
· Some Outreach staff are seeing all of their students in person; some are seeing a few in person and there are some that are only seeing students remotely.
· Outreach has decided to forgo our quarterly Outreach Staff meetings and have monthly “Outreach Check-In” via Zoom. We also stay in contact with each other.
· We continue to add or increase contracts as the need arises. With remote services as an option for some districts, there is more flexibility to serve students.
· Joe Dlugo continues to provide support as a mentor for the Stephen F. Austin University program around the state. Joe also has contracts with 3 districts to prove Orientation & Mobility (O&M) services.
· Met with Brent Stark, Projector Director at the Washington Sensory Disability Services (WSDS) to discuss a possible grant for training around O&M.
· The Outreach staff has been using the WSSB Functional Vision Learning Media Assessment (FVLMA). The consensus is that it is long and cumbersome, but the results are worth it. We will discuss any changes that need to be made and then send it on to the Irwin staff for their use to have all WSSB evaluations be consistent.
· Our work in the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) Workgroup to review credentialing for educators of the blind and visually impaired is going well. We are anticipating appropriate changes to reflect the need of the vison professionals in our state.
· The Blind and Low Vision Resource Fair was held virtually on October 19. There were 8 presenters representing the Ogden Resource Center (ORC), Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA), Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL), WSSB On-Campus Programs, Statewide Technology, and Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) Youth Services. There were 97 people who registered for this event.
· Progress has been made on Strategic Plan Goal #1: Identify statewide need for blind and low vision services. A survey was sent out on EVE as well as the ORC listserv to identify vision professionals in WA state.
On the horizon:
· Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) Round-Ups will be held this year virtually. Training will be provided during the events with group discussions. Plans are in the works now.
· Continue working group for Strategic Plan Goal #1: Identify statewide need for blind and low vision services, includes Pam Parker, Jennifer Merry, Sara Zachariah
· Blind Youth Consortium (BYC) meeting set for late November or early December.
Enrollment: 68 (61 grades 6-12; 7 Learning Independence for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT))
Committing to Growth
As a school, we are in the business of learning. At WSSB right now, there is a significant demand for everyone, both staff and students alike, to become the best learners possible to support our current circumstances. This fall has challenged every person at WSSB to take a learning stance requiring flexibility, resilience, patience, and compassion. There is no better time for WSSB to embrace our core value of being student-centered than right now. Students are what bring us all together.
Our first and last order of business at WSSB includes safety. This has posed less than ideal scenarios for supporting student learning, but a critical priority to ensure students, staff, and families. Throughout, equity has focused on expanding in-person learning, supplying additional scaffolds supporting struggling students, and ensuring our students have access to food and internet connectivity.
In our educational approach, a spotlight shines bright on our students' necessary skills to engage with school, engage in our digital world, and prepare them for their future. While learning never stops, the way we learn is ready to evolve. With a shift on content to a focus on skills, the time has never been better to put technology skills, organizational skills, and communication skills as the year's essential learning components. Accessibility of instructional design and content is non-negotiable at WSSB while ensuring that we teach accessibility skills for both end-users and content producers. Accessibility is a form of literacy that must be present for there to be authentic engagement.
At a recent training by ReImagine WA, the presenter said, "We may all be at a distance, but it doesn't mean we're not connected." Relationships are a vital component of student success. Among staff, relationships foster a culture of care and cooperation that unlocks the potential of WSSB. At WSSB, we are noticing that students who have come back in-person show an appreciation for how school brings people together. Some families and students are not ready to have their children come back in-person, and WSSB is taking it slow to expand in-person learning. Regardless of location, students at WSSB are connected because they know they have friends and staff that care deeply about their success.
We will get better as we progress this school year. After the first seven weeks of school, our staff collectively determined that the created schedule was unsustainable. Through surveying families, students, staff, and input on various struggles and potential opportunities, a new schedule began on November 2. The new elements of our schedule responded to our shift to the commitment to distance learning for the school year, even with students returning to campus. Also, students have opportunities for engaging with independent learning time, access to staff office hours, and a bit more time to work on the learning outside of the teacher-led class sessions. We embrace the value of continuous improvement, failing, and learning always.
Youth Services: The WSSB Youth Services Specialist (YSS) has been working with the DSB Youth Services Specialists team this quarter to re-create school year programming in a virtual format. The YSS team has connected with their counterparts in other state VR agencies that serve blind and low vision youth, to brainstorm program ideas and develop methods to expand accessibility with community partners.
The YSS team are also using the information gained from 2 completed surveys of blind and low vision youth known to DSB (one for youth between the ages of 9-13 and the other for youth between the ages of 14-21) to once again incorporate youth voice in the development of content focus areas.
The workshops topics with the highest level of interest for the 9-13 age group, were:
2. Food preparation
3. Household chores series (dishwashing, sweeping, cleaning counters, etc.)
4. Clothing management
5. Personal grooming
The workshops topics with the highest level of interest for the 14-21 age group, were:
1. Food preparation and nutrition
2. Virtual job shadowing
3. Social Hour
4. Self-Expression through various types of art
6. Financial Literacy
Work readiness workshops are in development for each age group, with a variety of topics. YSS are coordinating curriculum materials with contractors, non-profit agencies, peer facilitators and community business partners to provide much of the program content. The expanding list of contributors include Financial Beginnings, Partners in Careers (PIC), a wide variety of successfully employed blind and low vision adults, Melissa Small of MJ Small and Associates, youth peer facilitators, The International School of Protocol’s Blind and Socially Savvy Program and Registered Dietician and Health Coach Alysse Anderegg.
Some of these after school workshops will be offered as 1-time events and others will be offered in a series of skills building workshops. A pilot tech training program began the first week November and a Financial Reality Fair is scheduled for November 24, 2020. A four-week food preparation and nutrition workshop called “Step Up to the Plate” will be held every 2nd Monday of the month from December 2020 through March 2021.
The DSB Youth Services sponsored a group of 6 students to attend the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) convention that was held virtually from October 12-16, 2020. The APRIL organization has a strong youth leadership and advocacy focus and coordinates a full youth conference track, in conjunction with their convention, each year. Members of the YSS team also assisted in the coordination of a youth track for the Washington Council of the Blind’s (WCB) 2020 virtual convention from October 30-31, 2020.
Contractor Partners in Careers (PIC) is continuing to provide virtual work based learning and soft skills education one time per week for 11 WSSB students. PIC is also coordinating virtual job shadows to be offered after school twice per month. These job shadow experiences have been made available to WSSB students outside of the PIC cohort. Contractor Melissa Small has been working with a group of students with additional disabilities (12 who attend WSSB and an additional student who is continuing work from the summer program) providing work readiness skills training services. Ms. Small is also planning some after school workshops for blind and low vision students with additional disabilities around the state.
Residential: Residential opened as of November 1 and we currently have 13 students staying overnight in three of the four dorms. We are currently running 24-hour services including a day shift, so students can zoom into general education classes from their dorms. Staff have been trained on all the Covid precautions implemented in residential. Students are settling in to the dorms and are excited to be back on campus. Staff have also been brought back to work full time as of October 19. Catherine Orr, a 22-year employee in the residential department retired as of September 30. Sierra Diamond, an on-call employee was hired to fill Catherine’s role and started November 1 in the residential department.
Corey Grandstaff, the residential program manager, has begun working with other residential managers across the country and was one of the co-founders of the residential Administrators of Schools for the Blind group, which began meeting on October 22. Residential managers from the California, Wisconsin, Texas, and Tennessee schools for the blind have joined the group and are excited to continue collaborating with each other.
Transportation: We currently are only running one charter bus along the I-5 corridor and are transporting students who typically fly to WSSB in WSSB minivans. Sam Schrager, an on-call RLC, has been hired as a driver for the year to transport these students.
LIFTT: LIFTT opened on November 1 with Covid precautions in place. In addition, the proposed LIFTT building project is continuing to move forward and is currently in the stakeholder engagement period with previous LIFTT graduates and staff.
Health Center: The health center is continuing to ensure student safety through delivering medications to students, as well as providing guidance on the Reopening Schools 2020 team. In addition, nurses are ensuring the proper PPE has been purchased, as well as both nurses have been fitted for N95 masks.
Recreation: Recreation programs continue to be run via Zoom and volunteers are joining students in these programs.
1. 2020-21 Operating Budget: Books for September closed with a small positive variance due to the delayed start of school and safety net funding. With our current service delivery model any variance will be consumed.
2. Performance Measures: We reported on the following measures for quarter ending September 2020:
#1585 Percent of WSSB high school students enrolled in online classes: 8%
#1586 Braille Distributed on time: 90%
#1590 Pages of Braille Transcription: 41,975
#1591 Training opportunities accessed by individuals: 11,929
#1592 Number of teachers/paraprofessionals taking Braille exams: 41
#1593 Number of students on campus: 67
#1594 Off-Campus Services: 744
3. Calendar Year Close: Now that the fiscal year has closed, we are now moving to closing the calendar year. We are working on Retirement Redistributions, getting ready for 1099s and W2s, as well as reviewing allotments, and first quarter spending.
Working remotely has brought its challenges and we continue to revisit and revise our processes to
accommodate for the changes.
· Sam Schrager – Residential Life Counselor (RLC) - Temp
· Sierra Diamond – RLC – Project Employee
· Substitute TVI
· On-call Teaching Assistant
· On-call RLC
· 2020 Virtual National Summit on School Safety
· HR Managers Meeting – Facilitated by Franklin Plaistowe and Marcos Rodriguez
· Labor Relations Roundtable – Facilitated by (OFM)
· COVID 19 – Reopening State HR
Adrienne Lattin, Braille Proofreader, accepted a new job at the Oregon Commission for the Blind (OCB). She will be teaching adults braille and assistive technology. The ORC will greatly miss her.
At this time, proofreading will be done by contractors, our inmate workers and staff loaned by another department. Jim Eccles will help with proofreading thanks to LIFTT. In a couple months we will re-evaluate for the need and availability of a full-time proofreader.
There has been some turn-over at the prison and the transcriber positions have been filled by nationally certified apprentice transcribers. The ORC is working with the Washington Correctional Center for Women (WCCW) to work within the post-COVID-19 framework at the prison. We are currently at full capacity and hours are moving back towards full-time. At this time, 3 apprentices are working on their braille and manuscripts for certification.
Between September 1-October 20, the ORC has shipped 1,058 items to 288 students in 97 districts.
The ORC is beginning a monthly webinar series on Wednesday afternoons spotlighting ORC services and resources. The first webinar was held on November 4 at 4:00pm. It included an introduction to the ORC. The webinars will be recorded.
1. The custodial team, under the proactive leadership of Mickey Marshall, is working well, adapting to different requests and situations as needs be. Their dedication to getting it right regarding CDC coronavirus cleaning protocols is reassuring. Samir Jaganjac has returned to graveyard shift, and so now we have at least one custodian here around the clock on weekdays.
2. The Food Service staff was glad to return to work and have a mission for the kids again. It is nice to see this devotion to the kids. Bob Lonnee has been on his toes adapting to coronavirus protocols and the changing situations we are in during the pandemic.
3. The spin-up to heating season is going relatively well. I am having trouble with one of the boilers in the gym. We may have to tear it apart the gym boiler and clean out interior combustion chamber blockage. A burn test will happen soon to determine its fate. We’ll do the work in-house. This may take two weeks.
4. The Old Main Roof $280,000 capital preservation project is contracted through the Department of Enterprise Services (DES). The contract did not make it through DES in time to perform the work this year. We are first on the list for next year (expecting April or May 2021). This will be a membrane-reinforced “liquid” roof on top of existing membrane that will come with a 20-year warranty. Original estimate of $310,000 from DES Energy Services division done while job order contractor (JOC) was installing Irwin Solar array. Noticed in contract that bid from sub was $210,000, and DES JOC fee was $100,000 on top of that. Tried to get DES approval to use the sub only through schools contracting group King County Directors Association. Got bid of $218,000. DES denied request. Signed on with DES JOC Burton, who shepherded cottage renovation project. This DES avenue adds $62,000 to the contract.
5. We are helping Washington State University Vancouver library staff in their WSSB museum inventory/project, by moving all the audible LPs from the Old Main basement mech room to the more conditioned room.
The WSSB Birth to 3 Program continues to provide support services to 89 families virtually. It has been a very positive addition to our menu of services! We expect virtual home visits will continue until January 2021, then we will begin to implement a hybrid approach to early intervention services with a combination of virtual and in person for all families. We believe that a hybrid approach is best as it will not only reduce our travel costs, but also increase our efficiency and effectiveness of services to families through use of the coaching model of service delivery.
As for our targeted child find activities, DeEtte has worked with Nancy Hatfield from Washington Sensory Disability Services (WSDS) and Kris Ching from Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth (CDHY) for the past few months on updating the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT), the Part C Lead Agency, approved screening tool for vision and hearing called the “Three Prong Approach” or TPA. We completed the update and are excited about the new and approved version. It is still in a draft form until ESIT fully approves the updates. Our next step is to create an updated version of our training module to match the updated tool. We have scheduled our first live (virtual) training on November 19 for early intervention providers in Spokane. After that we will create recorded webinars that all providers statewide will watch independently. This screening tool is also included in the ESIT overall EI training modules for all providers as this is the tool that will be used for every child receiving EI service at intake and again during the annual review. The goal of this tool is not only to identify vision and hearing concerns early but also to create a pathway to accessible and appropriate services to meet the identified need. This is just one example of how the needs for infants and toddlers who are blind or low vision are being embedded in the state system of providing EI services to all.
Starting in January 2021, DeEtte will be hosting a statewide family resource night called “Talk O Tuesdays”. These meetings will be held virtually with a registration process, be held the second Tuesday of the month over the course of the year and will be open to all families in the state. The topic for the January meeting will focus on WSSB’s statewide partner resources such as DSB, WTBBL, WSDS, and NWABA. Other topics will be chosen based on family suggestions. While this family resource night is starting with families of children aged birth to 3, our hope is that it grows to include families of children of all ages. The goal is to build families’ awareness of the wealth of resources available to them and to empower their effective advocacy with information and parent to parent connection.
Each month I will provide, in bulleted format, a list of the more significant activities of the Superintendent’s office. For each month, I will describe a highlight or two in more detail. If at any point you would like more information or have questions, please do not hesitate to call, email, or schedule a time to meet in person. I want to make sure that you have the information that you need to advise and guide what we do to meet the needs of students who are blind or visually impaired throughout Washington State.
September and October
September 29: American Printing House for the Blind (APH) product obsolescence meeting
September 29: Learning Independence for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT) building project kick-off
September 29: Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) statewide COVID update
September 30: ESD 112 Clark/Cowlitz County superintendents meeting re COVID
September 30: Weekly Small Agency Cabinet (SAC) meeting
October 1: WSSB/Washington State University (WSU) museum project meeting
October 3: Dedication of the Pulliam Peace Pole
October 5: Weekly proposed reopening plan meeting
October 5: Meeting with staff from Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib’s office re White Cane Day
October 6: Council of Schools and Services for the Blind (COSB) annual leadership conference
October 6: Pacific Northwest Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (PNWAER) board meeting
October 7-9: APH annual meeting
October 9: Meeting with Noel Nightingale with the Office of Civil Rights re WSSB website
October 13: APH product obsolescence meeting
October 13: Executive and small agency cabinet meeting
October 13: OSPI statewide COVID update and collaboration meeting
October 14: ESD 112 Clark/Cowlitz County superintendents meeting re COVID
October 14: LIFTT project institutional research and equity workshop meeting
October 15: Meeting with Clark County Health Department re WSSB’s proposed reopening plan
October 16: Meeting with Greg Szabo re November Board meeting agenda
October 16: Present at Fort Vancouver Lions Club meeting
October 19: Meeting with Governor’s policy office re WSSB’s proposed reopening plan
October 19: Statewide Blind/Low Vision resource fair
October 21: Strategic Plan (goal one) meeting
October 21: Weekly Small Agency Cabinet meeting (returning to the workplace)
October 22: 2020 AER Education Awards ceremony (panel and discussion)
October 23: Fitness and safety check-in with staff
October 23: Meeting to discuss employee/team of the year structure
October 26: BADIE meeting
October 27: APH product obsolescence meeting
October 27: OSPI statewide COVID update and collaboration meeting
October 27: Meeting with OSPI to discuss credentialing for educators of the visually impaired
October 27: PNWAER board meeting
October 29-31: Washington Council of the Blind (WCB) Fall convention
We enjoyed the ongoing presence of a small number of students on campus while we continued to plan and prepare for our first phase of residential students return the first week in November. During more typical times I would have traveled to Louisville, Kentucky for the COSB Leadership Institute and the APH’s Annual Meeting. I enjoyed attending and contributing to both events in their virtual format this year. Sean McCormick, Director of On-Campus Programs, was recognized as the 2020 COSB Outstanding Principal/Director of Programs. While Linda Hagood, WSSB Speech Language-Pathologist, was recognized as the 2020 COSB Outstanding Related Services Provider. Several WSSB students were recognized for their artwork in the 2020 APH Insights Arts Awards Celebration. Audrey Chitwood was awarded 1st place in the grades 10-12 category for their drawing titled, “The Best Drawing I Ever Made”. Lizbeth Meza was also awarded 1st place in the grades 7-9 category for her artwork called, “Allan”. Charles Johnson was given a third-place award in the grades 7-9 category for his sculpture called “Wivern”. Tori Eastman was celebrated with an honorable mention in the grades 7-9 group for her work, “Bat”.
This year, WSSB worked with the PNW AER, partners from the Lt Governor’s Office and the Governor’s Office, as well as a variety of other stakeholders to promote White Cane Day in Washington on October 15. Governor Inslee issued a White Cane Day Proclamation and the Lt. Governor’s Office hosted a website hub of information contributions from the field. The effort was coordinated by PNW AER in partnership with WSSB and many others.
Finally, I enjoyed the opportunity to attend and speak at the WCB Virtual 2020 Convention. I thought it was well done. I enjoyed the opportunity to update the WCB. Speaking as part of the big three (DSB, WTBBL, and WSSB) is always a special treat. I provided an update on strategic planning, campus programs, and the LIFTT project. I helped with the WCB elections this year and enjoyed the opportunity to connect with WCB membership.
November 4: ESD 112 Clark/Cowlitz County superintendents meeting re COVID
November 6-8: National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of Washington state convention
November 10: APH product obsolescence meeting
November 10: Present to Longview Pioneers Lions Club
November 10: Executive and Small Agency Cabinet meeting
November 13: WSSB Board of Trustees meeting
November 13: Meeting with OSPI to discuss credentialing for educators of the visually impaired
The ultimate highlight has been welcoming the first wave of residential students to campus. It is exciting to walk through campus and notice the palpable change in energy with more students on campus. We expect about 20 students on campus for our 6-12 programs in this first phase. This includes a mix of service delivery and program access options that include residential, day, and targeted supports and services for individual students on campus. Additionally, we welcomed back seven participants in the LIFTT Program. Similar to past years, we serve about 70 students through our campus programs. Currently, unlike years past, most students access a majority of their instruction through synchronous and asynchronous remote instruction. As COVID rates continue to rise locally and across the region, we have not identified a target date for phase two of our return plan.
Attending this year’s NFB convention online had its perks, similar to my experience at this year’s WCB convention. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear the perspectives of so many blind individuals. I found the sessions informative, empowering and inclusive. I really enjoyed a panel discussion on diversity. I had an opportunity to provide an update to NFB as well. I provided an update very similar to the one provided previously to WCB.
With all that has been going on and the additional stress it has caused, I am experiencing increasing emotional vulnerability. I find that I sometimes respond emotionally quicker, and have a harder time regulating those emotions. I have experienced different levels of this phenomenon when talking about specific decisions or impacts of decisions on staff or students during recent updates to the WCB, NFB, and Lions Clubs.
Department managers and administration team meetings
Executive and Small Agency Cabinet meetings
Goal Council meetings
Clark County and Regional Superintendent meetings
NWABA Board meetings
UEB committee meetings
Oregon Commission for the Blind Board meetings
Washington DeafBlind Advisory Council meetings
Washington Sensory Disability Services meetings