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Summer 2000 Volume 5, No. 3


So much for the notion of the lazy, hazy summer days with not much to do. As July draws to a close and we anticipate school beginning in several weeks, most of us here in Outreach are wondering where the time has flown. We must be having fun. In June we were involved with a workshop for parents and young children called "On the Move" and Texas Focus took place in El Paso. At the end of the month, I was fortunate to be able to attend back-to-back workshops in Minnesota sponsored by Hilton Perkins, NFADB, and NTAC focusing on Family Specialists and providing effective technical assistance to families. Summer Technology training begins next week, and work has begun towards developing new workshops and the Texas Symposium on Deafblindness. There are a variety of other projects cooking and some changes in staff to round out August.

One of the big changes has us dropping breadcrumbs from Outreach to the new office of Debra Sewell, Education Specialist with VI Outreach. After seven years in Outreach she is moving her office to the Curriculum Department. We won't say goodbye because we refuse to let her go. Debra is replacing the fabulous Nancy Levack, Curriculum Director, who is leaving for Utopia (Texas that is). Also departing Curriculum this year is Brigitte Starkey who will devote her full energies to her own company. We appreciate all the fine work they have done in developing educational materials for the families and professionals involved with visually impaired children.

Speaking of those materials, one of the products from our Curriculum Department is the book Teaching Students with Visual and Multiple Disabilities: A Resource Guide written by Millie Smith (formerly with Outreach) and Nancy Levack. Millie and Nancy were recently awarded the C. Warren Bledsoe Award at AER International for this publication. We are very proud of their accomplishment and want to extend our heartiest congratulations.

Another award, the Mary K. Bauman award, was given at AER International this year to our very own Dr. Phil Hatlen, Superintendent of TSBVI. It is given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the education of children who are blind and visually impaired. How suiting that this award was given to a person such as Phil who, in the words of Dennis Thurman, is "a teacher in the deepest, noblest sense of that title . . . a teacher with only the betterment of children in mind."

Rita Livingston, Principal of Comprehensive Programs, has made the decision to leave TSBVI. We wish her the best with her new endeavors. Miles Fain will be taking over as Rita departs. Many of you know Miles as both a teacher and assistant principal here at TSBVI. Dr. Lauren Newton will continue as Principal of Special Programs. Be sure to read her article on page 38 that describes some of the exciting new short programs available to students with visual impairments who are attending school in their local independent school districts. Other changes for the coming year include a new program structure for the Comprehensive Programs, expanded distance education efforts, and the continued remodelling of the TSBVI facility.

Last but not least, we want to welcome Ann Adkins to Outreach. Ann will be taking the Outreach position vacated by Debra Sewell. Ann has recently been a teacher of the visually impaired in the Eanes ISD, but has a long history as both a regular and special educator. We know she has much to offer the children of Texas in her new role with Outreach and look forward to working with her.

Editor's note: You can't work in the field of special education and disability very long without experiencing the death of a child. Not everyone is comfortable talking about it _ but it happens, with and without warning. Families with chronically ill children face this possibility daily. We all experience loss in our lives whether it is a marriage ending, a child graduating, a job ending, or a relative dying. Even if the change is good, letting go of your old identity with its roles and responsibilities is a process that takes time. My parents are still living, but I wonder, will I no longer feel like a daughter when they die? As Dr. Ken Moses says, "There is no right or wrong with feelings, they are just there." One way of living through the grief process is writing about it. The following articles written by two moms and a grandmother reveal their varied reactions to the loss of a child. All three are insightful and comforting. We hope their words will help you better understand their grief and also their joy in sharing the beautiful though brief lives of these children.

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Last Revision: July 22, 2004