Meet our Experts
Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments
Q: Tell me about your education background.
A: I got my Bachelor’s Degree at Brigham Young University in English with an emphasis in Technical Writing and Editing. Soon after I started my family and decided to stay home with my kids. During those 15 years I did some part-time consulting for proofreading and technical writing, and I quickly realized it wasn’t how I wanted to spend my days. One of my daughters has a visual impairment, so I had been introduce to the field of Special Education/Visual Impairment, but it wasn’t until her TSVI (who happened to be Melinda Carter, Anchor’s current Director of Children and Family Programs!) suggested I pursue my Master’s Degree to become a Teacher of students with Visual Impairments. I felt like I’d been hit by lightning…everything started falling into place for me and I was enrolled by the next year to the TSVI program at the University of Northern Colorado. I graduated with my MA in Special Education: Visual Impairment. My degree and teaching certification in Colorado allow me to work with students who have visual impairments from birth to age 21. I also have an endorsement in Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) from Perkins School for the Blind.
Q: How did you get involved with the Anchor Center?
A: My first introduction to Anchor Center was as a parent! My daughter attended Anchor as an infant and toddler. My daughter was born with bilateral retinoblastoma (cancerous tumors in both eyes). Her first years were filled with countless treatments, surgeries, traveling to and from Philadelphia every month to see specialists, etc. One of the bright spots for both me and my daughter were the days we got to go to Anchor Center to spend time playing and learning! From the moment I walked through the doors on our first day I knew I had found something special. I will always be thankful for what Anchor gave to my family during those difficult years. When I finished my MA program a few years ago and had the opportunity to choose which direction I wanted to go with my career, it was an easy choice. Now being on the professional side, I feel like my life has come full circle with Anchor Center, and I hold my job very dearly to my heart! This is my 5th year at Anchor Center, and my 3rd year as the Coordinator of the Infants and Toddlers Program.
Q: What are the high-points and challenges of your job?
A: The high points are getting to work with adorable babies and toddlers every day! I love celebrating their achievements as they learn and grow. I also love seeing the process parents go through…they usually enter our doors with fear, and over time I love watching them realize that their child is not only going to survive in this world, but that they can and will thrive! It just doesn’t get any better than that. In terms of challenges, I have my hands in a lot of responsibilities. I’m the Coordinator of the Infants and Toddlers Program, am a Research Assistant doing vision screenings for CVI in the NICU at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children once a week, on top of having my regular TSVI responsibilities (performing vision assessments and writing up the reports, etc.). It’s all so wonderful, but there sometimes isn’t enough time in my week to get everything done that I want to!
Q: Where do you get all of your ideas?
A: I have amazing colleagues here at Anchor with a wide-range of backgrounds and specialties. That’s one of my favorite things about Anchor Center…we are a transdisciplinary team of different types of teachers and therapists who all work together every day! I love brainstorming and lesson-planning with our team.
Q: How do you see your position growing in the future?
A: Anchor has some new and exciting things coming down the pipes along the lines of research, expanding our programs, and expanding our assessment capacity. I love being a part of the conversations as we shape what these expansions and changes will mean; above all, we are being very mindful that the heart and core of Anchor Center will always stay the same. The Expanded Core Curriculum (additional skills kids with visual impairments need that are separate from the standard education curriculums) will always be our focus, and we are proud of that.
Q: Is there anything you want to share about your position?
A: I love my job! I love being with these children and families that I have the pleasure of working with, and I feel incredibly blessed to have such an amazing team of professionals to work alongside every day.
Q: What do you consider to be a breakthrough for one of your students?
A: Many infants and toddlers who have visual impairments also have some developmental delays. They can and will catch up to their peers, but sometimes it takes some time and some interventions. A breakthrough for one of my students might be their ability to stay awake during all three centers of a program day! A breakthrough for another student might be when they willingly use their hands to reach out and touch something with a texture they previously hated, or when a student imitates something they see one of their peers doing, or watching them take their first independent steps….the list goes on and on! We celebrate milestones every day at Anchor Center.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: My favorite part of my job is helping families realize that their child’s future is STILL going to be bright and amazing and full of joy and opportunities, despite their having an unexpected visual diagnosis.
Q: What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of work?
A: I am married and have three kids (19, 16, 12). I love spending time with my family, traveling, reading, watching musicals, taking long bubble baths, and sewing patchwork quilts. Fun fact: I recently started taking guitar lessons!