Spring 2016 taer newsletter Message from Marjie

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the letters taer appear from bottom to top on the left side of the logo. to the right is a contrasting color forming a star with obling swoop shapes to the right of the star. below is the website www.txaer.org Spring 2016 TAER Newsletter

Message from Marjie

Throughout the years, people have come and gone as members of AER/TAER. Some have said that TAER didn’t offer them anything different than any other conference, but TAER is much more than just attending a conference! There are so many opportunities for personal and professional growth in the areas of public speaking or leadership. Where else can you start from scratch in learning to make conference presentations or by taking on a leadership position on the board or as a committee chairperson? Relationships of all kinds are important to personal and professional fulfillment, and TAER offers a multitude of avenues for networking, forging new and growing existing relationships. Whether you’re a rehab specialist or an educator, opportunities for collaboration with colleagues in your field or across fields abound. There are so many ways to share your time and talents, to grow lasting friendships with people from across the state, and, of course to attend our yearly conference, where knowledge is shared and gained amongst colleagues. TAER is a place where we all can come together with passion and common ideals that we can help to turn into law such as the O&M law that was passed in 2013. Where else can you find such a group? We all are working toward that same goal: to improve the quality of life for each student and/or consumer we serve. It’s hard to put into words everything that TAER is and does for those who desire to take advantage of the opportunities for personal and professional growth. Sometimes it feels like we’re all one big family. I really like this family!

See you at the reunion – i.e. conference!


It’s an Election Year – Of course, it is every year at TAER!!!

TAER Board members serve for a term of 2 years. We have several candidates for the positions that will be open. We still need a few more willing current members to run for these positions: Member at Large. Keep reading to learn more about folks who would like to serve you on the TAER Board!

Running for President:

tracy hallak gives a big smile to the camera. her red hair frames her face with bangs and a shoulder length cut. Tracy Hallak is currently an instructor at Stephen F. Austin State University in the Orientation and Mobility Program.  She has her Bachelors of Science Degree in Child Development and her Teacher Certification from California State University, Fullerton CA.  She received her instruction as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired at California State University, Los Angeles, CA.  

She moved to Texas in 1995, where she received her ACVREP Certification as an Orientation and Mobility Instructor and her Master’s in Special Education from Stephen F. Austin State University.  Prior to taking a position at SFA she worked as an itinerant Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and an Orientation and Mobility Specialist.

Tracy is a member of AER and has served on the TAER board and the AER Itinerate Chair Elect.  She has presented at TAER and AER conferences and is a member of Texas Action Committee for the Education of Students with Visual Impairments and the Professional Preparation Advisory Group.  

Running for Treasurer:

shannon darst looks toward the camera and smiles. her long, blond hair is swept back, and she sports hoop earrings. Shannon Darst, Ph.D. is a TVI for Eanes ISD and Elgin ISD, as well as an adjunct professor and internship coordinator for the TVI certification program at Texas Tech University.  She has worked in the field of visual impairments for 17 years.  She is currently a board member (Member-At-Large) for Texas AER, and she would be honored to serve as Treasurer for the TAER board. She is also the statistician and committee member of The Service Intensity Subcommittee of the Texas Action Committee for the Education of Students with Visual Impairments, which developed the VISSIT and the O&M VISSIT.

Running for Member-at-Large:

jill babcock smiles at the camera from a slight angle. her brown hair frames her face in a short cut that causes it to sweep around her face and end just above her shoulders. Jill Babcock is currently contracting TVI and COMS services for two SSA’s in the Texas Panhandle. She has been working in the field since January 2000. Jill lives in Groom, Texas with her husband Buck and their children Molly and Davis. She would be honored to serve on the TAER board.

kathi garza smiles at the camera. she is wearing black rimmed glasses, and her white-blond hair frames her face and falls over both shoulders. Kathi Garza lives in Austin, Texas and works at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Kathi spent 5 years in a self-contained classroom for students with visual and multiple impairments before accepting a teacher position in Short Term Programs. In her new role, Kathi has had the opportunity to work with students like herself with low vision to support access to academics and technology and the development of expanded core curriculum skills. When she isn't working, Kathi enjoys spending time with her husband and young toddler.

amanda schoenenberger smiles at the camera, her straight brown hair falling over her left shoulder. I’m Amanda Schoenenberger. This is my fourteenth year as a Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired.  In 2011, I became an Orientation and Mobility Specialist.  I wanted to be able to teach my students not only in the classroom, but also how to move around their environments safely on a daily basis to access anything they wanted.  I am the CTVI/COMS for Canyon ISD.  I work with students from birth until graduation and love watching the progress they make from year to year.  The best part of my job is being able to really know my students and be their advocate until they can advocate for themselves.

Conference Update!!!

The conference schedule is now posted on the TAER website. http://www.txaer.org/conference-schedule.html

Pre-Conference Sessions

Thursday, March 31 9:00 - 11:30 am

Each of these exciting and fun-filled sessions will be an hour and fifteen minutes in length. After participating in one of the sessions, attendees will move to the room next door and have more fun joining in on the next set of activities.

Self-Determination: Activities and Resources for fostering Self-Determination

Presenter: Jeri Cleveland

Join us for a fast-paced, activity-based self-determination booster. We will do activities related to knowing others, solving problems, understanding strengths and challenges, exploring values, and goal-setting. One of them will be performed under blindfold, and the rest will be optional. We'll have a resources "show and tell," and as much sharing as we can squeeze in.

Independent Living Skills: The Brunch Bunch

Presenter: Valerie Alvarez

The Brunch Bunch will give each participant a fun look into the art of making a brown bag brunch while under sleep shade. Each participant will have the opportunity to make a PB&J, slice apples, bag chips and fill a glass of water using non-visual techniques. This activity will give all the participants a chance to share ideas on how these skills can connect students of all ages to their peers and what social skills can be used during a student’s lunch time. Please come join our brunch bunch and share your ideas and laughs with our group!

Note: If you have not already registered for the Pre-Conference activities, you may do so on-site Thursday morning.

Early Conference Sessions

Thursday, March 31 9:00 - 11:30 am

Braille Document and Tactile Graphic Production – Mathematics

This is a hands-on, experiential learning workshop that will focus on transcribing mathematics worksheets using MathType, MS Word, Duxbury and the Tiger Software Suite. This workshop is comprised of three parts and learners must attend all three. The morning will begin with an introduction to using MathType, MS Word, and Duxbury and translating math worksheets into both English Braille American Edition and UEB. The afternoon will continue the use of MS Word and MathType to produce worksheets with a tactile graphic and the Tiger Software Suite.

This training is available to 20 participants on a first come first served basis. It is appropriate for TVIs and transcribers. No prerequisite skills are required. We will cover the basics of these programs.

TAER 2016 Keynote

GUIDING GREATNESS: 11 Epic Components of Guiding Blind and Visually Impaired Students to Their Greatness

Kristin Smedley had never met a blind person before her two sons were diagnosed with Leber's Congenital Amaurosis shortly after they were born. Kristin had no training in raising blind children, but she followed the only advice the retina specialist gave her "Learn the tools of blindness. Good luck." At sixteen and twelve years old now, her sons are thriving as honor students, accomplished athletes, talented musicians, award winning Braille users, and social butterflies... and their personalities couldn't be more different! Kristin's engaging and energetic presentation will be filled with concrete examples of the tools and techniques she has used to guide her boys to chase their dreams and achieve their personal greatness.

Phil Hatlen – In Memoriam

a pretty current photograph of phil hatlen smiling at the camera. he wears wireless glasses, and he has a full head of silver-white hair and matching beard and mustach. Hello Colleagues of the Alliance of and for Visually Impaired Texans (AVIT):

It is with a heavy heart that we share with you that Dr. Phil Hatlen passed away Thursday morning (1/14/2016). We have lost the presence of a talented, generous, loving friend. Yet….his legacy will live on!!

He was living in California for a number of years since his retirement as superintendent of TSBVI, and this is where he passed away.

Phil has been honored many times with prestigious awards for his lifetime of achievement in the field of blindness.

As you know, Phil was a consummate leader who authored articles and chapters in books that have enlightened us and brought new advancements in teaching children. He was a teacher of students with visual impairments, leader of university teacher training programs to teach children who are blind or have low vision, developer of systemic change meant to improve the educational system in America for children who are visually impaired, researcher of new educational approaches, person who supported families in their quest to dream big, and friend with conviction to his mission in life.

I, personally, am reflecting upon the many years spent alongside him building AVIT and creating the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including those with Multiple Disabilities and the subsequent numerous activities and projects we uplifted from its ten goals. He is known far and wide for his work with the creation of the National Agenda’s Goal 8 ----the Expanded Core Curriculum.

Here are a few heartfelt quotes from today’s exchange of emails from colleagues who admire Phil.

He is my ECC hero.

Words can’t express my sorrow.

What a loss to our field, but it’s so much better since he was in it.

OMG…this is sad news, but what a true leader he was.

He was dedicated to his work and was generous in sharing his expertise.

He was a giant in the field of blindness services whom I was proud and privileged to call a friend.

In 2012, Phil was honored with induction into the Hall of Fame -- Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field. This Hall of Fame is housed at American Printing House for the Blind (APH). You may read more about Phil’s work and mission in life at http://www.aph.org/hall/inductees/ hatlen/

In his own words… his message to the field.

Stand tall; be proud of your profession. Decide what your "bottom line" is, and do not compromise. Commit to your fundamental truths, and live your profession by not compromising. Be gentle, be creative, and respect the dignity of all children. Love life, work hard, live with a passion for everything that you do, laugh a lot, and help your students to learn to laugh.

From the Executive Board of AVIT

(Reprinted with permission)

Coming Soon!

A very exciting, surprise announcement about a very, very special donation from ViewPlus will soon be coming to our website, newsletter and to an email near you! Check www.txaer.org often for updates! (So excited!!!)

News from Texas Tech University:

Enrollment in the Texas Tech University Program for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments at Texas Tech University is open now!

If anyone is interested in starting coursework summer of 2016, then they need to apply to the TTU Graduate School. (http://www.depts.ttu.edu/gradschool/admissions/index.php) The application for summer should be completed no later than May 1. The application process can be found at: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/education/outreach-and-research/sowell/students/ cert-application.php

We anticipate that there will be a small amount of stipend funds left for new summer students through the Reach Across Texas program this year. It would be worth an applicant's while to apply for the stipend for summer at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/education/outreach-and-research/sowell/students/cert-application.php for consideration for the funding available.

If prospective TVI students would like to begin in the fall, they can also apply for a Reach Across Texas stipend for fall 2016 when a new grant cycle begins. All applications for fall must be received by June 1 to be considered. The same links above can be followed for information on applying to TTU and to the Reach Across Texas stipend program.

Thank you!

TTU Program for Research and Education in Sensory Disabilities Staff

News from SFASU

In January 2016, Stephen F. Austin State University welcomed a new member to the faculty of the Department of Human Services: Visual Impairment. TAER’s own Board member, DJ Dean, is now part of the SFA team!

She received her B.S. in Special Education and Elementary Education from Texas Woman's University, and her M.Ed. in Visual Impairment from SFASU. She is dually certified as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired and an Orientation & Mobility Specialist. She has 20 years of experience teaching in Texas public schools. DJ has been a mentor in the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Mentor Program. She also is a member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), a board member of the Texas chapter (TAER), a member of the Orientation & Mobility division of AER; and a member of the Alliance of and for Visually Impaired Texans (AVIT).

SFA’s VI and COMS personnel preparation program will benefit from DJ’s expertise, experience, and energetic commitment to the field of education of students with visual impairments. Congratulations to DJ and to SFA!

Remember to register for the TAER Conference today! It’s not too late to join us in Katy, TX! http://www.txaer.org/taer-conference-2016-registration-form.html

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