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Note from Executive Director

Meghan Klassen, Executive Director

Dear Friends of Anchor Center,

At the start of the 2021-22 school year in August, we piloted our inclusive preschool program, welcoming four sighted peers (children who do not have visual impairments) to two of our preschool classrooms. Research indicates that inclusive environments benefit all children, and we are seeing this on a daily basis in our students’ social interactions, their speech and language skills, and their overall development. We will review current enrollment numbers in order to decide how many slots we may have for sighted peers in the fall of 2022. True to our mission, students with vision impairments will have enrollment priority, and we will not turn away any students with vision impairments to accommodate sighted peers.

In October, we hired a Consultant and Manager for our Cortical Visual Impairment Initiative (CVII), Melody Furze Zagami. She earned a Master’s degree in Special Education with a focus in Visual Impairment, and a PhD in Special Education from the University of Northern Colorado (UNC.) She is a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVI), and one of her areas of research specialization is CVI. She is currently a member of the International CVI Workgroup. Melody will mostly work remotely from Olympia, Washington, and will travel to Denver to work with the team, as needed. Elise Darrow is our in-house CVII Manager. Elise is a TSVI and has worked at Anchor Center since 2015. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences, and her Master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Visual Impairment. She is certified in Orientation & Mobility, Cerebral Vision Impairment, and Cortical Visual Impairment, and just started the PhD program at UNC.

Elise and Melody have been hard at work establishing goals and timelines for our CVII. Among their priorities for 2022 are: staff training, standardization of assessments, data collection, and increased administration of CVI assessments, in order to suggest appropriate interventions and monitor progress. You can read more about Elise in this newsletter’s Staff Spotlight.

We hope you enjoy this edition of AnchorLine, our quarterly newsletter.

With Gratitude,

Meghan S. Klassen, M.Ed
Executive Director