BEMS Parent Newsletter - April 2, 2021

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Dates to Remember

April 5 - NO SCHOOL

April 6 - Kids Town Comes Alive - CANDYLAND (Grades K-5)

April 7 - FSA ELA Reading (Grade 3)

April 7 - FSA ELA Writing (Grades 4-6)

April 8 - FSA ELA Reading (Grade 3)

April 8 - FSA ELA Writing (Grades 7-8)

April 9 - Board of Trustees Meeting

April 9 - End of 3rd Quarter

April 16 - Sub-SAC/Title 1 Meeting (virtual)

*Meeting begins at 10:00. Email Ms. Fertsch at fertsche@fsdbk12.org to receive the link if you would like to join.

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Hello, FSDB Families – Parent Climate Survey Announcement in Spoken English

Hello, FSDB Families!

Wanted to let you know that you will soon be receiving the paper copy for the FSDB Parent Climate Survey next Friday, April 9th. The survey should take about 15 mins to complete and we would like all surveys returned by Wednesday, April 28th. We really want to learn from you!

Thank you for partnering with us so your children can do more, be more, and achieve more! Have a wonderful long weekend!

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Ms. Fertsch's Files

Ellen Fertsch, Assistant Principal, BEMS

Greetings Families and happy spring, Passover, and Easter! I hope you enjoyed a well-deserved and restful spring break. The end of the 3rd marking period is just one week away! It has been quite a ride for us all thus far, and we have worked together to make this school year a positive experience for our kids. Please continue to encourage your students to give their best efforts and to keep embracing the many learning opportunities and activities available to them here at FSDB. Students continue to enjoy meaningful experiences in academic classes, the arts, Orientation & Mobility, dorm activities, and so much more.

In April and May, students in grades 3-8 will participate in the Florida Statewide Assessments (FSA). In addition, 7th graders will take the End Of Course (EOC) Civics test. A reminder that in order for students to participate in testing, they must be physically present on campus. As always, thank you for allowing us to work with your students to help them to become well-rounded, independent, and empathetic citizens. Wishing you and your families a happy and healthy month.

Testing Season is Here

See the file below for the dates for this year's testing.

Innovative Learning Environment (ILE) students must report to campus in person to participate in FSA testing. Please contact Administrative Assistant Cheryl Burgess to facilitate transportation and/or dorm services if applicable.
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Feeding St. Johns County

Edith Stein, NJHS Sponsor

The Blind Middle School National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) members conducted a food drive during February and March. Over 100 pounds of food was collected and donated to the St. Johns Ecumenical Ministries Food Pantry. Formed in 1992 by church ministers and their congregations to provide emergency food for needy residents of St. Johns County, the pantry is staffed by the 12 participating churches. Bags of food are provided based on size of family. Each bag of food contains enough food for two people for four days.

NJHS chapters and students are in schools that care not only about student achievement, but also community engagement. NJHS students volunteer in their communities at the highest rates and make connecting with and serving within the community a priority. Five main purposes have guided chapters of NJHS from the beginning: to create enthusiasm for scholarship, to stimulate a desire to render service, to promote leadership, to encourage responsible citizenship, and to develop character in the students of secondary schools.

Members are: Addison Allen, Logan Strickland, Jasen McDaniel, Khayree Lofton, and Danika Stanchi

3 masked students stand at the back of a car with the trunk open; inside are cans, boxes, and bags of food covering the entire floor of the trunk

High School Students Speak to 8th Graders

Karen Kolkedy, Mental Health Counselor

Several incredible Freshmen in the Blind High School were selected to speak to our 8th graders. They were selected for this important and wonderful opportunity because they all graduated less than a year ago and could share what high school is truly like with our 8th grade class. They are awesome role models for these rising 8th graders. Yassir B. is a wonderful Senior who is a fine class leader. He has a wealth of knowledge and experiences from his high school years that he shared with the 8th graders. The 8th graders have been very curious about what high school is going to be like, what to look forward to and how to be successful.

These high school students shared information on such questions as what it was like preparing for the transition from Middle School to High School. These freshmen and senior students shared their feelings about joining high school. Each student also shared experiences of what they have been most proud of since beginning high school. Achievements, interesting classes, work experiences, team sports, music opportunities, community service projects - all await our rising 8th graders. These goal-driven students talked about preparing themselves for the future. They discussed their greatest strengths, and what subject area they have enjoyed learning about.

The High School students talked about Positive Behavior Support and Respect, Responsibility and Cooperation. They reflected on how one's attitude can really impact your education and outlook on life. Finally, these high school students addressed how they will contribute back to the community and impact positive change in the world.

These rising 8th graders really are curious about transitioning to high school and hopefully this panel answered some of the 8th graders' questions and concerns.

Goalball Unit in PE

Keith Young, Physical Education Teacher

Our 7th/8th grade physical education class is doing a Goalball unit. Luke Boccuzzo, an OJT assistant and a senior, is helping with the instruction and modeling the techniques used. The students are learning the rules, objectives, defensive position and techniques, offensive throwing, passing, and the 9-point court layout system.

The President's Cabinet

Edith Stein, BMS Social Studies Teacher

7th-grade Civics students are completing the Three Branches of Government study units. As a culminating project, students researched the President’s Cabinet. They chose five departments to describe, then chose their own personal department chairpersons as if they were the POTUS. Creativity in their choices and reasoning was encouraged. A person of particular interest was Deb Haaland Secretary of the Department of the Interior and the first indigenous North American to serve as a Cabinet member.
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Submitted by Jennifer Enache, Certified Orientation and Mobility Teacher

Experiential Learning

Brody loves everything about animals and insects. He is always giving factoids about different insects and animals during his orientation and mobility lesson. He inquired about places where he might find some plastic animals and insects to add to his collection. On one of our lessons, Brody went to Olde Towne Toys. Brody had to interact with the store employee, plan for his purchase, explore a new environment, budget for his purchases, and purchase the items he wanted.

Calm Problem-Solving

Jasen enjoys being challenged during his orientation and mobility lessons. During a lesson, Jasen will be human-guided to an unknown location within the Blind Department and then asked to find his way to a specific location in the area. He uses landmarks and clues to re-orient himself. Learning how to problem solve and stay calm when disoriented is vital to independent travel.

Classroom Maps

McKenzie is learning how to create tactile maps of different classrooms. She is learning positional concepts and how that is represented on a map. McKenzie was working with Ms. Teresa on creating a map of Ms. Enache’s office. McKenzie enjoys exploring and learning about new environments.
Mackenzie sits at the table creating and exploring her office map; thick black board has various shapes and colors representing items in the office

Cardinals at the Beach

Jayden has been learning about cardinal directions and exploring unfamiliar environments. At the beach, Jayden learned about the sun rising from the east. He explored how east will always be east even when he turns his body in different directions. Jayden also tried to save some fish that were laying in the sand. He was so excited to be able to touch a fish!

Residential Travel

Our elementary students are learning about residential travel. The lessons are focused on vocabulary and concept development about neighborhoods and awareness of streets. The students learn about predictable information and landmarks that help keep them oriented in an unfamiliar environment.

Functional Vision and Night Blindness

Several of our students have functional vision that assists them with travel during the day, but at night they may experience night blindness which requires them to learn how to rely more on their cane and tactual feedback to travel independently. In order to practice these skills our O&M team conducts night lessons in the winter when daylight ends earlier in the evening. In the fall and spring the staff relies on blindfold experiences or working in dimly lit areas.

Fisher is demonstrating how he completes routes on campus while under blindfold. He is relying on textures, auditory clues, and mental mapping to execute these routes. The more we practice these skills the easier it is for our students. We always make sure the students are comfortable wearing the blindfold and ensure that we are always near. As they continue to use the blindfold their confidence, recognition of clues/landmarks, and walking speed increase. These lessons are a functional way to support our students that may have difficulties traveling at night.

Stairs at the Beach

Brianna and Jayden explored the bridge over A1A. They experienced walking up and down unfamiliar stairs while using proper cane technique. Jayden and Brianna enjoyed searching for treasures on the beach and learning how to use their canes on the sand. Both students were challenged by climbing over a hill of sand and figuring out how to appropriately use their cane to assist them. While exploring the beach, Brianna and Jayden were able to identify the cardinal directions west and east. By the end of the lesson, they were able to identify where east was located while we drove back to campus.
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Students show off their aprons they made in the dorm.

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Joy Carriger, Media Specialist

The Battle of the Books Challenge preparations have begun. BES students are meeting bi-weekly to start practicing for the end of the year literacy extravaganza. During our first meeting, students learned the authors for the books we will be using this year, and focused on the who, where and what (characters, setting and main idea) for each story. Most importantly, Battle team captains and names were selected for this year. All 3-5 students will participate as part of either The Starbursts, The Milky Ways or The Kit Kats. The event is scheduled virtually for May 21st.

BMS students are also preparing for their annual Battle of the Books challenge by meeting monthly in grade level teams to practice. The BMS Battle of the Books this year will be May 28th.

Middle school students have also been working hard on their monthly genre study. For March, students were assigned to read about a science topic, complete an assignment which included their own definition of science, and participate in an online class presentation to share interesting facts they learned and discuss the different branches of science. Some students even shared their learning by using PowerPoint presentations. This is a team effort between the library, the reading teacher, and the technology teacher.

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Opt-in to Skyward Text Messages

Want to Stay Informed? FSDB uses Skyward to send text messages about important school information and emergency alerts. It's very easy to begin receiving text messages: Text the word "Yes" to 67587 to opt in.

Braille Classes

FSDB Parent University will be offering Braille classes for FSDB families. 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

  • Apr 21 – Strong Group Signs
  • May 26 – Strong Word Signs

For more information, contact:

April Wallace, Braille Specialist

Phone: 904-827-2355


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Billy Clements, grade 3, is featured reading and learning all about Thurgood Marshall and his contributions towards the civil rights movement, which greatly impacted regulations throughout the United States.
The 2nd graders at FSDB are learning to use refreshable braille. The technology teacher, Fabian Quintanilla, is instructing the students using a Braille Note Apex. Mr. Quintanilla is a graduate of FSDB.
Mackenzie stands behind a table with everything that she donated to Pet Food Drive; pile includes dog and cat food bags, wet cat food cans, cat and dog treat bags

Mackenzie and her family donated several items to the NJHS Pet Food Drive

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