Irwin Blog2019-10-14T21:24:01-07:00

Irwin Blog


YES 1 – July 12-23

Youth Employment Solutions (YES 1)

YES I is a two-week program for 14 -16 year-old students, hosted in Vancouver, Washington. YES I offers students – who need minimal assistance with their independent living and travel skills – the chance to explore their career possibilities, interests and aptitudes.  The program’s recreational and daily living experiences give the students additional skill building opportunities.

YES 1 participants practice the skills needed for career success, including building resumes, filling out applications, participating in mock interviews, touring worksites and completing community service projects.  Those students attending their 2nd year of YES 1 may also participate in job shadows.  During the program, YES 1 participants travel to Seattle over a 3 -day period, to learn about the YES 2 program and participate in additional career readiness experiences.

Application materials are available in English and Spanish at the following link:

Program dates: July 12 – July 23, 2020
Age range: 14-16 years
Applications are due by February 22, 2020

Completed applications are to be mailed to:
Washington State School for the Blind – YES 1 2020
Marcie Ebarb
2214 E 13th Street
Vancouver, WA 98661
or by email to:


January 23 – WSSB Swim Meet!

On Thursday January 23, 2020 at 6:30 pm, the Washington State School for the Blind and the Vancouver Lions Club will be hosting their annual Swim Meet on the WSSB campus.  This is an exciting opportunity for students to show their swimming skills, earn ribbons, and compete against like peers.  If you have a student who can independently swim a length of the pool (25 meters), we would love for them to join us!  Please contact Jennifer Butcher (360-947-3351) for more information!

Swim Meet Registration Form (pdf)





It’s been a great start to the school year! There have been some changes made to our counseling department this year. WSSB now has two mental health staff on campus to support students! Returning is Miss Thomas. She is our School Psychologist. As the School Psychologist at WSSB she completes the Special Education Evaluations and supports IEP paperwork. She continues to do some counseling with a few students and supports students/staff as needed. Miss Hendricks is our new School Social Worker. She is the main person students see for counseling. Miss Hendricks oversees our SEL or Social Emotional Learning this year that all students receive weekly. She also supports students and staff as needed when student concerns arise.

Please check the counseling page periodically for updates and information throughout the year! Listed below is the counseling department contact information should you have any questions.

Miss Hendricks
School Social Worker

Miss Thomas
School Psychologist


Challenging Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk can be harmful to our health physically and mentally.  Negative self-talk is when we talk to ourselves in a way that puts ourselves down or when we judge ourselves such as “Why do I always do that?!” “I’m so dumb!” Here are some tips from an article that can be helpful (link to article below).

1. Reality testing

  • What is my evidence for and against my thinking?
  • Are my thoughts factual, or are they just my interpretations?
  • Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
  • How can I find out if my thoughts are actually true?

2. Look for alternative explanations

  • Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?
  • What else could this mean?
  • If I were being positive, how would I perceive this situation?

3. Putting it in perspective

  • Is this situation as bad as I am making out to be?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen? How likely is it?
  • What is the best thing that could happen?
  • What is most likely to happen?
  • Is there anything good about this situation?
  • Will this matter in five years time?

4. Using goal-directed thinking

  • Is thinking this way helping me to feel good or to achieve my goals?
  • What can I do that will help me solve the problem?
  • Is there something I can learn from this situation, to help me do it better next time?

If you’d like to read the whole article it is located here:


Welcome to the Counseling Center Page!

Welcome to the Counseling Center page!  My name is Billie Jo Thomas and I am the School Counselor and School Psychologist at WSSB.  Periodically, I will be posting information I find relevant for staff, students, and families.

Having a lion mind:

  • If you show a dog a bone and wave it in his face he will follow that bone.  In a sense you control the dog’s reality.
  • Conversely, if you show a lion a bone and wave it in his face he may eat the human behind the bone!  The lion sees the larger broader picture.  Seeing the broader picture give the lion more autonomy and more choices.
  • Think of the bone as anger or anxiety.  If you react with a lion mind you can realize “I’m angry right now,” but it allows them to choose HOW to respond.  It takes work to learn how to do this.
  • The lion is the kind of the jungle.  Who doesn’t want to be king of the jungle?

I love that this can be directly linked to our Lion Pride here at WSSB!

This information is a summary from the following article which may not be accessible.  Please contact Billie Jo Thomas at if you would like to read the full article.