NC ELSSP-VI Newsletter

February 2016

Each child will be honored, respected, and empowered to achieve success in school and life.

North Carolina Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Visual Impairments

February Quote

If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.

-Ignacio Estrada


Student Pictures Submitted by NC ELSSP-VI Staff

Professional Development Submitted by Lin Causey

Pre-K Vision Center Submitted by Juliet Mauldin

Welcome New Staff

Staff Birthdays

February's Fantastic Student Submitted by Marcia Rollings

Director's Spotlight Submitted by Bethany Mayo

Professional Development Opportunities

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Register Today

NC Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness (NCCVIB) scheduled for March 3rd and 4th, 2016 in Chapel Hill, NC.

Please join us for the 2016 NC Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness (NCCVIB) scheduled for March 3rd and 4th at the Sheraton in Chapel Hill, NC. We are so excited that Millie Smith will be presenting both days during the Preschool Strand and will be presenting at the General Session of the conference.

Millie Smith is a consultant for students with visual and multiple impairments. She is the co-author of the AER Warren Bledsoe Award winning book, Visual and Multiple Impairments: A Resource Guide. After nearly thirty years of teaching and outreach consulting at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Millie became a consultant with the American Printing House for the Blind. In that capacity, she wrote the Sensory Learning Kit (SLK) Guidebook and Routines book. Her new APH product, SAM: Symbols and Meaning is a program designed to address the needs of students with visual and multiple impairments who have mastered SLK level skills. Millie is currently working with APH on a revision of the Barraga program to develop visual efficiency. She also has contributed a chapter on sensory efficiency to an in-press American Foundation for the Blind publication on the expanded core curriculum.

During the Preschool Strand, Millie Smith will be sharing information with us on working with learners with visual and multiple impairments. She will show videos and have interactive sessions about working with these learners. She will offer suggestions for instruction and activities including the Sensory Learning Kit and the APH Symbols and Meanings program. On March 3rd, Millie will be presenting during the Preschool Strand on Sensing Acting Learning: Bridges to coherence at the sensorimotor stage. This will include research based information and ideas for working with learners at the birth to two year old developmental level. On March 4th during the Preschool Strand, she will be presenting on Sensing Acting Learning: Bridges to communication at the late sensorimotor/early preoperational stage. This will include research based information and ideas for working with learners at approximately the two to seven year old developmental level. During the General Session, Millie will be presenting on Best Practices For Sensorimotor Stage Learners With Visual And Multiple Impairments: Bridges to Success.

The registration fee is $125 if postmarked by February 15th. After February 15th, the registration fee goes up to $150. To download the registration form click on the following link and then click on 2016 Conference Registration: You will need to complete the registration form and mail it along with your check to Gina Powell at the address noted on the form.

You will need to make your hotel reservation at the Sheraton in Chapel Hill before January 31st, 2016 to get the group rate of $119 per night. You can click on this link to make your hotel reservations:

We hope to see you at the 2016 NC Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness! You will not want to miss this wonderful opportunity to hear Millie Smith!

Sandy Bryant and Pam Bye

Teachers of the Visually Impaired

Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Visual Impairments

Ongoing Professional Development Opportunities

Here are a variety of trainings that were shared by Krystal Davis with the EI Branch. The professional development hours received from taking the trainings are acceptable for use towards maintenance of the ITF certificate.

February 18 & 19, 2016 in Asheville, NC More Info/Registration

Feb. 29 - Mar. 1, 2016 in Charlotte, NC More Info/Registration


UNC School of Social Work Clinical Lecture Series

Focus on Family and Disability Seminars

  • March 8, 2016 Supporting Families to Improve Outcomes for Children – Building Family Resilience – Panel Discussion

Cost: $35.00 for Clinicians and Service Providers; $15.00 for Family and Community Members; $5.00 for UNC Students;

Free to UNC School of Social Work Students, Field Instructors, School of Social Work Faculty and Staff

Where: UNC School of Social Work 11:15AM-2:00PM (lecture 12PM-2PM)Lunch provided (11:15am –12:00pm)

CEUs: 2 contact hours (All lectures will be recorded and made available on the FSP.UNC.EDU website)

For more information, contact Barbara Leach: (919) 966-0396 325 Pittsboro St., Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Register here

The content is relevant to the EI/ECSE professional working with military families.

Military Families Learning Network (MFLN)

Parenting During Times of Transition Part 1 - Challenges, Opportunities, and Resources for Parents Living with PTSD

  • Date/Time - February 17, 2016 @ 11:00 am ET
  • Description - Few transitions impact families more than when a service member returns home with a physical or psychological wound. This webinar will provide tools and resources to help Veteran parents living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) talk about their feelings and experiences with their children.
  • For more info & to register for webinar go to -

Military Families Learning Network (MFLN)

Parenting During Times of Transition Part 2 - Promoting Effective Parenting During Deployment and Reintegration;

  • Date/Time - February 24, 2016 @ 11:00 am ET
  • Description - This webinar will feature what has been learned from the ADAPT (After Deployment Adaptive Parenting Tools) Project. The presenter will identify how to best support military families coping with the stress of deployment and reintegration with a focus on parenting skills, couple relationships, problem-solving, and effective communication.
  • For more info & to register for the webinar go to -

The 2016 Inclusion Institute will include dozens of groundbreaking sessions and workshops on many hot topics: challenging behavior, expulsion and suspension, dual-language learners, friendships, learning in outdoor environments, individualizing for each child, supporting children with autism in inclusive environments—and much more.

And this year, the Inclusion Institute is more than an event. All registrants also will get FREE access to 8 online Connect Courses on Inclusion. These cutting-edge courses award CEUs, and several states have approved them for training.

Dozens of sessions from world-class experts, free courses for CEUs—and an enduring impact. Read more about the 2016 Inclusion Institute and register here:

Pre-K Vision Center

In September of this year I entered a preschool classroom that had a total of 4 students with visual impairments. I met with the teacher, Miss Brenda, to talk about the individual needs of the students. Three of the students were already enrolled in our program and each of the students had very different visual needs. I knew that I had to brainstorm on how could I be the most effective, support the teacher, and provide materials and guidance to best provide services for each student. I began to think about materials, there were so many items I could bring in for each student -light box – flip board books - tactile books, the list grew. I was planning on coming to sessions, bringing materials, working with my student(s), and leaving but this time it was different. I had so many students in this one classroom that I decided to ask the teacher if I could have an area within the classroom to place a light box, flip board books, and other materials for the students. I realized as I was coming up with ideas for the area that this NEEDS to be a vision center that is accessible to every child in the classroom. Miss Brenda agreed to give me an area in the room. I wanted to have an area that would provide the teacher with a guide on how to support the unique visual needs of multiple students and create a vision center that included every child within the classroom.

During the planning and designing stages of my Vision Center, I hit the proverbial roadblock. Miss Brenda took another position at another school and the classroom merged with another Pre-K class.

There was a new teacher, Miss Keesha (I had never met before), more children in the classroom, and much less room for the vision center I wanted to create. I scheduled a time with Ms. Keesha to talk about our students' needs and see if she would agree to a small vision center. Hooray! Not only did Miss Keesha agree, she offered to let me create the vision center in a large area adjoining the classroom.

Vision Center Goal: to provide a learning center for every child that supported the visual needs of my students as well as a guide and support for the classroom teacher.

Lighting: I moved the kitchen area toward the wall and placed the Vision Center where there was more controlled lighting. There was natural light from windows that could be adjusted with blinds as well as overhead lighting and plenty of outlets.

Tables: I placed two tables within the Vision Center (one dark and one bright green). Placing one table near the windows and the bright green table with the students facing away from visual clutter within the classroom.

Chairs: several students in the class use wheelchairs/walkers and/or need different type of seating. I made certain there were enough chairs for students as well as access to the tables.

Walls: plain, I wanted to provide as little visual distractions as possible.

Learning template: The Three Little Pigs

Materials: light box - light table - flip board - Invisio board - sensory boxes - sensory trays- sensory cups - Three Little Pigs puppets - different books - farm animals- felt cut outs of the story - tactile materials (i.e. straws, hay sticks).

Shelves: I placed minimal items on the shelves so that the students were able look at a portion of the shelf without visual clutter/distractions. Items that required containers, I placed on their sides so that they were more visible. All items placed on the shelves supported the lesson, accommodated visual needs, and were accessible to every child.

Floor: I flipped a racetrack mat over so that it was solid black and placed it on the floor so that when children were playing with objects there would be a higher contrast.

Welcome Heather Bradford!!!

Heather Bradford officially joined our program last month (January 2016). Heather began her teaching career as an elementary school teacher and reading specialist in Columbus, Ohio. She moved with her husband, Todd, son, Mac (19) and daughter Hadley (18) to North Carolina in 2000. Heather taught elementary grades 1-3 and grade 5 as well as special education resource and inclusion grades K-5 in NC. For the past two years she has served as the TVI in Iredell Statesville Schools. Heather completed the TVI program at North Carolina Central in December and is "thrilled to join the ELSSP/VI team". Welcome Heather!

February Staff Birthdays

February 8th Debra Graham

February 10th Lesley Birbick

February 17th Lori Blaney

February 27th Angel Wallace

February's Fantastic Student


Jude is a boy of many faces and interests from “Down East”. That means east of Beaufort, North Carolina. He loves swimming and his boat, even when it is landlocked. Down East we love our pirates (both Blackbeard and PeeDee the ECU pirate) but we also have a little hip hop side too. Jude is not afraid to gets hands-on in the kitchen either. He practices his cowboy skills on driftwood cause we can’t seem to catch those wild ponies on Shackleford Island.

Jude is 2 ½ years old. He lives in Williston, North Carolina. Marcia Rollings, his vision teacher went to see him recently and he had started talking! Just woke up one morning and decided he had something to say! Seriously?! That was his first word – “seriously”. Ms Marcia and Jude have been friends for 1 ½ years and Ms. Marcia would like for Jude to marry her new granddaughter. Jude is surrounded by a swarm of family and friends that all love him SOOOOOO much. He is learning so fast that Ms. Marcia cannot keep up. But she is a little old so he tries to be patient.

Director's Spotlight

By: Bethany Mayo, Director ELSSP-VI
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Pam Bye

Pam Bye is a resident of High Point, North Carolina. She lives there with her wonderful husband of almost 31 years and her two dogs, Kyra and Maggie. Kyra is Pam’s seeing eye dog and Maggie is the families pet Bassett Hound. Pam also has a son named Joey who is junior at UNC Wilmington. He is majoring in film studies. Pam enjoys going for long walks and traveling. Her favorite things are dark chocolate, love stories and the warm sunshine.

Pam has worked with the Early Learning Sensory Support Program for the Visually Impaired (ELSSP/VI) for 17 ½ years. She has a Master’s degree in Speech/Language Pathology from Radford University. While working as a speech therapist, Pam served a few children who were visually impaired and that is when she discovered her true passion. She became certified in Visual Impairments and worked with the Division of Services for the Blind for four years as the Children's Consultant. Since then, she has enjoyed working with ELSSP/VI and is blessed to have the opportunity to make a difference in children's lives.

Pam has taken on a huge leadership role assisting with the coordination of the North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness (NCCVIB) that is to take place in Chapel Hill, NC March 3-4, 2016. She has been an integral component to this event to ensure its success. She has helped gather resources, coordinated conference calls to collaborate with other professionals, and has helped plan professional development opportunities that will take place during the conference. She has taken on this responsibility while providing direct services to children and families on a daily basis. Pam Bye is the Director’s Spotlight because of all of her hard work and dedication for children, families, and other professionals in the field of visual impairment. Thank you Pam for being this month’s Director’s Spotlight.

Photo Credits