TSBVI in the New Year – 2021

Authors: Emily Coleman, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI)

Keywords: in-person learning, virtual learning, parent organization, Business Advisory Council, post-secondary opportunities, well-being, safety

Abstract: TSBVI’s superintendent shares her message on changes that happened in education in 2020 and new directions for 2021.

Our community at TSBVI includes many students who historically don’t adapt well to breaks in routine. We go out of our way to pre-teach any changes to their calendar and continuously remind them when something new is coming. As you can imagine, our ability to keep them prepared for the unexpected was severely challenged in 2020. Change is hard and we’ve all seen plenty lately.

Yet, our students have shown us time and again that they can handle these strangest of times. They can even thrive within the unknown. One of the silver linings of 2020 is that we’ve all had to stretch ourselves to reimagine education, which has empowered our students to reimagine learning.

We continue to offer our services to the 11,125 students identified as blind, visually impaired, or deafblind in Texas. Within our on-campus programs, we are providing hybrid instruction to accommodate in-person and virtual learning. Within Short-Term Programs, we’re providing a menu of virtual options and planning forward to a time when in-person will be possible. Within Outreach, we’re creating huge virtual events and bi-weekly professional development while also offering virtual consultations across the state. In Curriculum, we continue to publish new materials and provide training across the state and even across state lines.

My expectations for this school year have already been exceeded by our community. As we continue to re-create our typical programs, our teams are also building new avenues for student success. For example, 2021 is going to see a new parent organization in our midst, which has been needed for so long! We’ve formed a Business Advisory Council, which will ensure our students have access to employment and post-secondary opportunities. 2021 is also going to show an increased focus on accessibility, inclusion, diversity, equity, well-being, safety, and creativity that will expand student possibilities at TSBVI. We are raising the bar.

I am wishing our community and partners great things in 2021. As we march forward, let us not forget the resiliency we cultivated during 2020. We’ll continue to empower students and ask you all to do the same. They, too, can embrace the unexpected.

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