BEMS Parent Newsletter - December 18, 2020

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Dates to Remember

Dec. 19-Jan. 3 - Winter Break

Jan. 4 - Deadline to enter Braille Challenge

Jan. 15 - Parent Engagement Workshop

Jan. 18 - NO SCHOOL

Jan. 28 - End of 1st semester

Jan. 29 - NO SCHOOL

Administration Announcements banner

Holiday Message from FSDB President Tracie C. Snow

Holiday Message from the President in Spoken English


Hello FSDB students, staff, families, alumni and community members.

Every morning I wake up thankful for the blessing I have to serve as the President for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. This is an amazing school with incredible students, staff, families, alumni and stakeholders.

The holiday season is a time to be with family and friends and to be thankful for the gifts we have in our lives. I am thankful to be part of an extraordinary community that promotes a caring and giving environment. It is my hope, especially this year, that you will take the time to relax and reflect on your gifts.

The first half of the 2020-2021 school year has been unprecedented. I want to thank you for the dedication and hard work that has made our many successes possible. Every member of the FSDB team should be proud of what we have accomplished. I know we will face challenges in 2021, however, I also know that with everyone working together, we will also have triumphs.

I want to wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful and rejuvenating holiday season. Please take care of yourselves, your family and friends.

From my family to yours, all my best for the New Year.


Tracie C. Snow


Winter Athletic Games Canceled

Out of an abundance of caution, FSDB has canceled athletic games for the remainder of the winter season. Coaches offering student-athlete participation in conditioning activities will be in contact after the holiday break. We thank parents/legal guardians who quickly notify us and keep their children at home when they are ill or have suspected COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. We appreciate all who are working with us to maintain a healthy and safe environment both at school and at home – which includes wearing masks, physically distancing and frequent hand washing.
From the principals banner

Ms. Fertsch's Files

Ellen Fertsch, Assistant Principal, BEMS

Greetings BEMS families,

The end of the calendar year is upon us. Thank you all for your flexibility and understanding as we navigate this school year together. We understand the unique challenges that we all face. We appreciate you and wish you a healthy and happy holiday season. Looking forward to the new year!

Ms. Bogue

Dear FSDB Families,

This has been such an incredibly challenging year for each of us, our students, our families, our staff members, and our communities. Throughout these experiences, the FSDB family has come together in such remarkable ways to ensure the safety of our students and staff members and to provide high quality educational experiences for all our students during these difficult times.

It truly does take a village. A committed village with unified goals and a diversity of ideas, skills, and creativity to make these goals a reality. During this holiday season it has been wonderful to witness students and staff members expressing their appreciation and gratitude for one another. I am so incredibly proud of our students and the appreciation and thoughtfulness they have expressed.

I want to especially thank our FSDB families for their ongoing support and commitment. This year many families were forced to make even greater sacrifices and experienced hardships. We want to support our families, especially during these difficult times, in whatever ways we can. Together we are stronger.

I hope you all have a peaceful, safe, and happy holiday break!

With Warmest Regards

Parent Services banner

Parent Engagement Workshop

The third Parent Engagement Workshop (PEW) for the 2020-21 school year will be held on Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. via Zoom.

  • "President Pop In" with Tracie C. Snow, FSDB President
  • "Standards and Assessments" by Scott Trejbal, Administrator of Instructional Services
  • "Love and Logic: Choices" by Rhonda McCahill, FSDB School Counselor

    To join the meeting, visit: https://bit.ly/3ic2mb1

    Future workshops will be held on Feb. 12 and April 23. Be sure to add these dates to your calendar!

    Braille Classes

    FSDB Parent University will be offering Braille classes for FSDB families starting in January. All classes will be held via Zoom on Wednesdays from 4-5 p.m. All skill levels are welcome! Please contact your teacher if you are interested in attending.

    Class Schedule

    • Jan 20 – Alphabet Letters
    • Feb 17 – Alphabetic Word Signs
    • Mar 24 – Strong Contractions
    • Apr 21 – Strong Group Signs
    • May 26 – Strong Word Signs

    For more information, contact:

    April Wallace, Braille Specialist

    Phone: 904-827-2355


    Ways to Keep Things Festive and Fun at Home

    The holiday season is a time when families gather to celebrate. Many families may feel a disruption to traditions due to continued safety precautions and social distancing. More than ever it is important to have family chats. Talking with your children will help them better understand their emotions and will give you an opportunity to model a positive response.

    Here are some ways to keep things festive and fun at home!

    • Have a cookie decorating contest and gather votes through social media.
    • Take turns with family or friends hosting mini virtual celebrations: caroling, storytelling, and holiday movie watch parties.
    • Go crazy with decorations both inside and out.
    • Act out favorite movie scenes.

    Check out these recommendations on staying healthy this holiday.

    New School-Specific Facebook Group

    Did you know that we have a new BEMS Facebook group? In order to enhance digital security for our students and their families, we are transitioning our school Facebook page to a private group, which affords us better screening and monitoring measures. If you would like to join the group, please click this link: www.facebook.com/groups/FSDBBlindElementaryMiddleSchool
    Library News Banner

    Library News

    Joy Carriger, Media Specialist

    The Cary White Library has been busy giving away free books to classrooms and dorms, students and staff. For Thanksgiving, each elementary student was given a specially selected book with a poem about the gift of literacy.

    In other library news, BMS students met with their librarian using TEAMS and voted on the SSYRA books to read for this year's Battle of the Books in the Spring. Using this format allowed equal access for ILE students to participate, helped new students learn to use the distance learning tools, and provided a refresher to students on campus. It was a wonderful collaboration with the BMS Reading Teacher. Students were also asked to volunteer to be on the teams for the Battle and I am pleased to announce that 16 students stepped up to meet the challenge. Way to go Middle School!

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    Holiday Gift Creation

    The boys in Pod 232 of Cary White made painted mugs to give to their family members for the holidays. The mugs are made by putting nail polish into a pan of water and then dipping the mugs into the water. The boys each chose the colors they knew their family member would like. The finished product is also tactile so that all of the students can experience what they've created.
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    Warm Holiday Fun

    The FSDB Recreation Department, led by Recreation Therapy Manager Mary Wesley Fisher, teamed up with the FSDB PB(i)S Team led by Counselor Karen Kolkedy to sponsor a fun holiday event for the Blind Elementary School. They were joined by many "elves", including students, to pull off a fun, snowy time. Students created Gingerbread Houses, played games, and even danced in the "snow"! Winter Holidays keep us believing in goodness, in kindness, and in the wonderful dream of peace.

    Student News Banner

    National Junior Honor Society Induction

    On December 11th, The Blind Middle School held its fifth annual National Junior Honor Society Induction Ceremony. Candidates met rigorous eligibility requirements including maintaining a 3.5 or greater GPA. Candidates are leaders in their school, participate in community service, and exemplify citizenship and character. This year’s new members are Danika Stanchi, Khayree Lofton, Logan Strickland, Addison Allen, and Jasen McDaniel.

    These students facilitated the A/B Honor Roll Recognition program after induction. They recognized all the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders whose GPAs were 3.0 or higher. Jayden Weaver and Teagen Young were recognized for Outstanding Character, going above and beyond expectations in the classroom.

    Congratulations to all our outstanding students. We are incredibly proud of your accomplishments. Keep up the great work!

    Achieving With Achieve

    Five middle school students have been able to receive an average of 85 percent or higher in all their Achieve articles since the beginning of the school year--Logan Cake, Logan Strickland, Jasen McDaniel, Adrian Vreeland, and Parker Watson.

    Spanish Carolers

    Ms. Galligan's High School Spanish 1 class used their beautiful voices to bring some holiday cheer to our Blind Elementary Middle School. We loved seeing and hearing our former kids (now high school students) shining and sharing their talent.

    Thank You Christmas Gift

    BES presented Officer Anderson with a “Thank You Christmas Gift.” The students wanted to show their appreciation to Officer Anderson for teaching them about bicycle safety and providing each student with their own personal helmet. The students presented a “Christmas Book” with pictures of the students and letters written by the students.

    Gifts for Families

    Elementary students made holiday ornaments for their families this week in class. PBS sponsored the globes and confetti, Ms. Hanson took pictures of each and every student, and students added the love and magic!

    Celebrating Literacy

    Ms. Elisha Zuaro and Ms. Margaret Galligan-Prater hosted a BES Celebrate Literacy event which included hot chocolate and decorating holiday cookies with the elementary students. Ms. Margaret’s “Helper Elves” included Mr. Johnny and high school students Thomas Rice, Christian Leath, and Madison Woodward. The students had a wonderful time practicing their ECC skills and celebrating literacy with holiday stories and riddles.

    Holidays Around the World

    The PBS Team held a Holidays Around the World event where middle school students learned about celebrations such as Hanukkah, Diwali, and Winter Solstice. Our resident Snow Queen, Ms. DD Stein organized craft projects around each holiday and students had fun creating holiday items reflective of various cultures.
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    Coordinate Snowmen

    Ms. Lindberg's students made coordinate snowmen during math class.

    Holiday ECC Learning

    Mrs. Garay and Mrs. Schulz joined forces with Ms. Galligan for another ECC activity. Students decorated their own gingerbread men, learned important kitchen skills, all while listening to wonderful holiday tales!

    Naughty 2nd Grade Elves

    Greeting from the naughty elves of 2nd grade. Noel, Frosty, Tickles, Happy, Elfie, Peppermint and Sprinkles have been up to mischief. These elves have been involved in food fights, ripping up books and dumping over trash cans just to name a few antics. We wish you a happy and safe New Year!

    Third Grade Experience Stories

    Students worked on experience stories for the holidays using tactile stickers and their creativity.

    Paper Crafts

    Practicing ECC skills and O&M with a fun holiday theme!

    Happy Holidays from BEMS!

    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