BEMS Parent Newsletter - November 13, 2020

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Dates to Remember

Nov. 17 - Evacuation Drill

Nov. 23-27 - NO SCHOOL

Dec. 4 - Parent Engagement Workshop

Dec. 4 - Bullying Prevention Workshop (BMS)

Dec. 11 - School Advisory Committee/Title 1 Parent Meeting (Virtual)

Hello, FSDB Families!

Greetings from the President in Spoken English - Nov. 13, 2020

Hello FSDB Families!

My name is Tracie Snow and I am the President of FSDB. I wanted to take a few minutes to share some information and updates with you.

Tropical Storm Eta
Wow! Just when you thought hurricane season was over, we had tropical storm Eta! The FSDB leadership team participated in multiple weather briefings from the National Weather Service and reviewed weather advisory notices throughout the week. I am so very grateful for the amazing and caring FSDB staff who are dedicated to ensuring the safety of our students.

Thank you for your patience and understanding through this past week. We hope the Skylerts, texts, phone calls, and emails as well as posts to social media and our website were timely and informative.

Staying Engaged

Since FSDB serves students from around the state, we know the unique challenge many parents may have in staying connected with FSDB. For many of you, FSDB is miles away from your home.

I wanted to share with you some of the ways you can stay engaged by visiting our FSDB website and following us on Social Media.

Alert Banner

The FSDB website will use our home page to announce any urgent information we want shared like weather alerts. You may have noticed the red alert banner being used this week with information related to Tropical Storm Eta. We also added a button which will take you directly to the archived alerts.

FSDB Web Pages
A great way to know what is happening at FSDB and staying engaged is to check out the various pages on our website. We have information specific to your child’s school, academics, parent services, student life, outreach, news, COVID-19, re-opening, the innovative learning environment, and admissions.

Leadership Page
Recently we added a new page to the website - FSDB Leadership. Here you will find the President’s welcome and announcements in English, ASL and Spanish as well as photos and information about the Administrative Team.

Social Media

If you are a social media user you can follow The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Each school also has their own Facebook Group you can join so you can see pictures, announcements, and happenings specific to your child’s school.

Staying Safe and Healthy

Our students and staff have been doing a wonderful job following our reopening plan. They have been staying socially distant, wearing face coverings, cleaning, washing their hands, and staying home when they feel sick. We ask that you continue to monitor your child’s health and if at any time they are feeling sick, please have them stay home. For more information, please check out our COVID-19 webpage.

Our Thanks

I would like to extend a heart-felt thanks from our entire FSDB school community to you and your family for choosing and trusting us to educate your child. We wish you all a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.

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Ms. Fertsch's Files

Ellen Fertsch, Assistant Principal, BEMS

Warm Greetings to All,

The first marking period has come to an end and it is hard to believe that we are one-quarter of the way through the school year. Be on the lookout for report cards, which were mailed this week. In addition, families will receive our Blind Elementary Middle School Title I Handbook, which includes our Parent and Family Engagement Plan, School Compact, and other important information. Please take a moment to read over the booklet and sign the last page, which you may send back with your student.

The thankful season is upon us as we make our way through fall and the coming holidays. The word Thanksgiving, which came into usage in the 1600’s, finds its origins in the 1530’s in the giving of thanks as a public celebration acknowledging divine favors. Reflecting on this, I acknowledge the favors of our frontline workers who care for our health and safety and to those who allow us the opportunity to receive the goods and services that make our lives better. Finally, I acknowledge and celebrate our school family—students, staff, parents, and community members who have come together in remarkable and selfless ways to support our students to do more, be more, and achieve more. Wishing you all a safe, happy, and healthy November and Thanksgiving.

Administration Announcements banner.

BEMS 2021-2022 Teachers of the Year (TOY)

Michelle Garay, our Teacher of the Year for Blind Elementary School, is an exceptional educator and colleague. Michelle, who teaches 3rd grade, plans and implements rigorous and relevant lessons that engage and empower students to expand their knowledge base and their love of learning. In addition to teaching, Ms. Garay is an active member of our PBIS Team and is the Tutoring Coordinator for Blind Elementary Middle School. As a life-long learner, Ms. Garay presently holds eight specialized certifications in addition to a master’s degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently finishing a second master’s degree, this one in Visual Disabilities from Florida State University.

Hillary Norman, our Teacher of the Year for Blind Middle School, teaches technology skills to students in grades 6-8. Ms. Hillary recognizes the unique challenges facing students with visual impairments in gaining access to technology. As a former graduate of FSDB, and now a teacher at her alma mater, Ms. Hillary works diligently to make sure her students have the tools they need to succeed in an ever-changing high-tech world. Ms. Hillary has lent her time in the past to tutoring, STEM Club, Coding Club, and has spent the last few years as an integral part of the 8th Grade Graduation Team. Ms. Hillary holds a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis on Marketing and International Business.
Student News Banner

National Bus Safety Week

The Transportation Department participated in National Bus Safety Week which was held October 26-30, 2020. This national program gives the department an opportunity to highlight our transportation objectives and provide teachable moments to our students regarding the importance of school bus safety.

The centerpiece of National School Bus Safety Week is the poster contest. Students in each school had the opportunity to create a poster that depicts school bus safety-related themes and encourages and promotes school bus safety. The winning posters are used to promote safer school transportation for everyone. Judges from school and administrative departments selected winners from each school.

The theme for this year’s program was “Keep on Rolling….#Safety Starts with You.” Staff T-Shirts were designed and produced by a D&B Designs and were proudly worn by both the Day and SHOW Bus Staff.

This is the fifth year that the Transportation Department has participated in this national program and staff members were very excited to share our mission with our students and other stakeholders. Arabella Hooten, Blind Elementary/Middle School, was the Overall Winner for this year’s program.

Blind Elementary/Middle Schools

1st Place – Arabella Hooten

2nd Place – Jermeka Jones

3rd Place – Tristan Mason

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Parent Engagement Workshop

Please join us for our next virtual Parent Engagement Workshop on December 4th at 10am.

Parent Engagement Workshops (PEW) are learning opportunities open to ALL FSDB parents, guardians, and caregivers. During PEW, we discuss current and relevant information about our school, parenting strategies, helpful resources and so much more. Please join us for these educational events, have a fabulous lunch on us, and meet other FSDB families.


Be sure to visit the FSDB Facebook page to view the agenda.

Access and Engagement 2: Survey to Examine the Education of Students with Visual Impairments during COVID-19

In spring 2020, 455 families and 1,028 TVIs and O&M specialists shared how COVID-19 was impacting the education of students with visual impairments. Read the Access and Engagement Report at AFB.org/AccessEngagement.

We want to understand the successes, challenges, and concerns of family members, TVIs, and O&M specialists now during the 2020-2021 school year.

Please take approximately 30-40 minutes to complete the accessible survey by Nov. 22 at: https://www.accessengagement.com/

Why should you complete the survey?

• If your child or student is experiencing accessibility issues, we need to let companies, school districts, and policymakers know, so solutions can be developed and implemented.

• We need to know if children with visual impairments are progressing in their education. If children are not progressing, we need to advocate for additional services and time on their IFSPs and IEPs.

• We need to understand if children have the technology tools they need, Internet access, and if their family members have the skills to support students in their technology use. If they don’t, we need to advocate for changes.

• We need to understand the impact of online, hybrid and in person instruction on students with visual impairments, their families, and professionals. We need to develop a plan that ensures our students have success.

*This survey is sponsored by American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

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Cooking Skills Development

Part of dorm time is learning a variety of daily living skills, including having fun learning how to make things in the kitchen. Our middle school girls recently spent an evening making individual pizzas. They each worked their own dough, picked their toppings, and got their hands dirty putting everything together. It turned out delicious!

Contact Us

BEMS Office

PH: 904-827-2739

Health Care Center

PH: 904-827-2410

VP: 904-201-3910


PH: 800-992-8747

Kramer Hall (Elementary Dorm)

PH: 904-827-2736

Cary White Complex (Middle School Dorm)

PH: 904-827-2851

Parent Services

PH: 904-827-2212

VP: 904-201-4527

Campus Police

PH: 904-827-2315