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Una publicación sobre discapacidades visuales, y sordera y ceguera, para familias y profesionales.

Summer 2009 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By William “Bill” Daugherty, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Abstract: Superintendent Daugherty discusses the remodeling project at TSBVI and the opportunity it presents to improve and expand TSBVI services and impact the field.

Key Words: William Daugherty, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, blind, visually impaired, remodel

The near-total rebuild of the TSBVI campus, to be substantially completed by 2012, is really taking shape. Foundations will be poured any day now and then the project starts heading rapidly upward. We’ll move into the new Main Building 600 at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, with many of the other projects following close behind. What all of this investment and effort needs to amount to is not a simple moving into new spaces. It is also a time to assess what we as a school do best—to do more of that—and to be sure that we are asking our statewide stakeholders what they want and need from us.

We have repeatedly heard from parents and others that the appearance of our campus and facilities is a big disconnect from the he services we provide. The new campus will bring nice changes on that front as our staff can put more attention to maintaining buildings and grounds that are in good shape, rather than spending so much time and money patching up the old stuff. Our goal is to capitalize on all of these physical improvements by looking top to bottom on how we serve our students and the state, and how we go about the business of operating the campus.

Several key areas of concern and opportunity come to mind as we look forward:

  • How do we best equip and maintain this wonderful new campus for future generations of students and educators? Yes, kids return to their home districts or graduate from here, and staff retire or move on to other opportunities. Within two decades it will be rare for anyone who is here today to still be working at TSBVI. We are building this new campus as much high quality of the services we provide. The new campus will bring nice changes on that front as our staff can put more attention to maintaining buildings and grounds that are in good shape, rather than spending so much time and money patching up the old stuff. Our goal is to capitalize on all of these physical improvements by looking top to bottom on how we serve our students and the state, and how we go about the business of operating the campus. Several key areas of concern and opportunity come to mind as we look forward: for those that follow as for those of us who are here now.
  • How do we best meet the needs of the state in which we reside and to whom we are responsible for being the primary central resource for services and expertise? We’ve got to ask a lot of questions of our stakeholders and we’ve got to be prepared to listen and respond. Most of what we do and how we do it now will continue to be highly regarded by the people and systems we serve, but if we ask and listen we’ll also hear new opportunities to improve and expand our impact in collaboration with our statewide partners. The continued relevance of our school absolutely depends upon this.
  • How do we ensure that we are achieving our shared goal of maximizing each student’s learning, independence, and sense of self-worth? We’ll need to increasingly foster a culture of accessibility to all information used by both students and staff. Just look around our campus and you’ll see important print and graphic information that is largely inaccessible to some of our coworkers and to many of our students. We’ll need to foster even greater levels of independence in our students with a combination of higher expectations and the time for them to figure out where they are and what they are doing with fewer prompts and assists from staff. This doesn’t mean less supervision—it means, among other things, more wait time and less talk during activities. Many of you are experts on this, and you need to spread the word to the rest of us.

As challenging as this construction project has been, people seem genuinely excited about the future it heralds. I’ve pored over every architectural plan and drawing, and it is still really hard for me to envision what TSBVI will actually look and feel like in 2012. Clearly, a parent or a local Teacher of the Visually Impaired driving up to scope out the campus for a prospective student will get a feel from the outside that’s closer to the feel of what’s happening in the instructional programs. There is no greater concentration of talent and creativity in any School for the Blind than exists at TSBVI, and there has never been a more important time to put all that to good use as we chart our path.