MDE title

2001 Annual Report

Mississippi School For The Blind

The mission of Mississippi School for the Blind (MSB) is to promote the development of each visually impaired child's or youth's maximum potential by providing specialized services, materials, and technology. This mission has remained constant since MSB was founded in 1848 by an act of the Mississippi Legislature. It is accomplished through the collaborative efforts of the Mississippi Department of Education, MSB's staff, students, parents, alumni, and supporters throughout the state. MSB serves any eligible student without regard to the child's economic status, religious affiliation, ethnic background, or sex. This annual report provides a status on the services provided during the 1999-2000 school year.

Instructional Services PreVocational/Deaf-Blind Department
MSB Work Experience Program Comprehensive Home-Based Intervention Program (CHIP)
Instructional Resource Center Outreach Program
MSB Choir/Piano/Band 1999-2000 MSB Athletic Year
Residential Services Low Vision Clinic Report

1. Instructional Services

MSB offers a fully accredited elementary and secondary program (K-12). The school continues to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Courses of study are offered that compare to those available in any accredited public school in Mississippi. Students are given the option to mainstream to local schools. These mainstream decisions are made in the student's individual IEP meetings. At present MSB's curriculum is in line with the State's curriculum, and coursework is continually added and updated as needed. Furthermore, each MSB student may also be provided training in the areas of Braille, low vision, orientation and mobility, daily living skills, and use of computers and/or adaptive technology, all of which are offered on the campus of MSB.

Honor Roll and Perfect Attendance. MSB expects and encourages student achievement in each program level offered. Perfect attendance is recognized as well, but regular school attendance is stressed as one of the most accurate predictors of future student success. MSB's parents and the students' hometown newspapers receive photographs and newsworthy articles from MSB's Communication Committee to keep the public informed of student progress. On average during the 1999-2000 term, 37.5% of the elementary and 52.6% of the pre-vocational departments maintained averages of "B" or "S" or better. The junior/senior high students' percentage of "B" average or better was 31%. Two senior high students maintained an "A" average for the year! Perfect attendance was attained by 10% of the entire student body for the year.

MSB is proud of its efforts to work with the Office of Student Assessment to include our students in as many standardized testing programs as possible. For the 1999-2000 term MSB students took the FLE, each appropriate Subject Area Test, the Terra Nova portion of the Grade Level Testing Program (scores not included in statewide scores), and the ACT. A total of 63 of the above standardized tests were administered to MSB students according to test security guidelines.

Graduating Class of 2000 Profile. The 2000 senior class graduated ten students. Eight of these students received academic diplomas (including passing the FLE), with two completing the Pre-Vocational/ Deaf-Blind Program and earning an IEP Certificate of Completion. Six of the eight academic graduates elected to attend in-state community colleges. One academic student chose to participate in a period of evaluation at the Addie McBryde Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and the final academic graduate elected to go directly to work. The two non-academic seniors chose to seek employment and/or transition to a sheltered workshop or other work experience program.

Curriculum Update. MSB Academic teachers finalized suggested teaching strategies for Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science, continuing their use of the MDE Curriculum Frameworks, which have been adapted for the special students of MSB. Special subjects teachers completed adaptation of their curricular areas into a framework format with competencies and objectives. Materials such as diagrams, charts, graphs, and simple pictures, necessary elements of the general curriculum, were made more accessible to MSB students through the addition of the Tactile Image Enhancer, a new technological development which transforms a flat image into a raised line image. An Instructional Resource Center, which will house textbook materials, teacher resource materials, hands-on teaching materials, and additional items unique to the education of the visually impaired, was established for the staff in MSB's new library.

MSB's curriculum was greatly enhanced through the use of community resource volunteers with expertise in areas relating to topics of study. Our economics class was given the "big picture" by a local college economics professor and a stock broker. A Mississippi writer and retired educators treated the elementary students to readings and discussions of literature. Volunteers in science-related fields worked with all of our students on planting trees and plants on MSB's new campus. A geologist came and shared information and samples of rocks with elementary students. Expansion of this community participation is planned for the next school year.

The MSB faculty participated in a series of staff development workshops on the most recent brain research as related to teaching strategies, student learning and motivation. Three MSB science teachers completed a special science course for teachers, through Millsaps College and funded by an Eisenhower Grant. Teachers also participated in curriculum discussions by subject areas on issues including supplemental materials and instructional strategies. Plans have been made to expand this team meeting concept in the 2000-2001 school year.

2. PreVocational/Deaf-Blind Department

The PreVocational/Deaf-Blind Department continues to excel in its service delivery to children who are Multiple Disabled Visually Impaired (EMR/TMR) and Deaf-Blind. During the 1999-2000 school year, a total of 28 children received services, including 6 students with dual sensory impairments at the Mississippi School for the Deaf. The staff provided in-service to teachers, service providers and other individuals from various schools and organizations through the MSB Outreach Program. New technology was added to the program, including computers, scanners, and embossers.

One student was selected as Outstanding Blind Athlete at the South central Association of Schools for the Blind 2000 Track and Field Championships. Two students graduated with the Class of 2000 and are anticipating placement in their various home communities. Curriculum enhancement and individual staffing of students were the focus of the program for the 1999-2000 year as "Quality Education for Every Child" continues to be the driving force behind the instructional services of the department.

3. MSB Work Experience Program

The MSB Work Experience Program continues to provide opportunities for students to gain employability skills through placement of students at worksites established throughout the school. Students are assigned tasks in areas such as Residential Services, Curriculum, Low Vision Clinic, the offices of various instructional departments, the MSB Library, and the MSB Cafeteria.

Each worksite has specific job responsibilities designated for the students. They are placed in jobs for seven to nine weeks--then rotated to another site. Four job rotations are scheduled for each student during the year, and they are paid wages based on work evaluation.

Approximately 17 students were employed through the program during 1999-2000. Long range goals for the program are to establish job sites within the community. This would allow students to become more competitive with their sighted peers. MSB views this program as a stepping stone to establishing a solid foundation for transitioning our students from school to post-school activities such as employment or additional education.

4. Comprehensive Home-Based Intervention Program (CHIP)

Eligible visually impaired children from birth to age five are served by teachers who are specially trained in both the needs of visually impaired children, as well as the needs of young children. Services are home based and provided free of charge with the aim of preparing children for enrollment in appropriate classroom learning situations. The specific developmental needs of each child are addressed, and direct training in methods appropriate for use in enhancing each child's overall development is provided for parents. Intervention ranges from baby rattles and parental nurturing programs to pre-mobility, lap-top computer, and pre-braille instruction.

The program served 80 children during the 1999-2000 school term, residing in the following locations:
Beulah Greenville (3) Moss Point Sidon
Biloxi (2) Greenwood Myrtle Starkville
Blue Springs Gulfport (3) Natchez (2) Tishomingo
Bolton Hattiesburg (3) New Albany Troy
Brandon (3) Hazlehurst Oxford Tupelo
Carthage Indianola (2) PassChristian (2) Verona
Cleveland Iuka Pearl (3) Vicksburg
Coldwater Jackson (6) Petal Vidalia
Columbia Kiln Port Gibson (2) Water Valley
Decatur Kosciusko (2) Philadelphia Waynesboro (2)
D'Iberville Kossuth Picayune West Point
Dalesville Leland Runnelstown Wiggins
Durant Louisville Sallis
Ecru Moorhead (2) Shaw
Ethel Moselle Subuta

5. Instructional Resource Center

The Instructional Resource Center for the Visually Impaired serves as the repository for specialized learning aids and large type and Braille textbooks for the Mississippi Department of Education. These materials are purchased with state and federal funds and are provided on a free-loan basis to eligible students attending public and private schools as approved by the Mississippi Department of Education. A total of 297 students were served during the 1999-2000 school year.

6. Outreach Program

Through a variety of activities, the Outreach Program provides technical assistance to local schools and districts serving visually impaired students. Primarily technical assistance is provided on a monthly basis through a one-day professional development training activity held on the MSB Campus. The training exposes participants to information about types of vision losses, curricula and adaptations, specific educational concerns for visually impaired children, orientation and mobility, low vision assessments and aids, and guidelines for obtaining large print and Braille materials. This program is designed to assist local schools and school district personnel, but does not provide certification for a school district's program.

Teachers, teacher assistants, principals, counselors, therapists, and parents are eligible to attend the Outreach Training Professional Development Program. Arrangements must be made in advance through the Outreach Department. During the 1999-2000 school year, MSB provided this training for 40 persons, representing 14 educational programs across the state.

Approximately 339 persons were provided educational tours and/or informational training. The focus of these outreach activities included specific services provided by MSB and information addressing the needs of visually impaired children and individuals in school or society. Services were provided both on and off the school campus.

On March 31, 2000, MSB served as host for the Blind-Deaf Annual Conference for representatives of agencies serving blind or deaf individuals across the state. The theme of the conference was "Services--Where are we? Where are we going?" Featured at the conference were performances by students from Mississippi School for the Blind and Mississippi School for the Deaf. The program included keynote sessions addressing personal perspectives of persons who have received or have been influenced by state-provided services from different agencies through the years, and presentations by service providers describing current services available in Mississippi.

The program concluded with roundtable discussions focusing on future needs and trends in services for blind, including the National Agenda, and deaf persons in Mississippi. Seventy-three persons representing 20 school districts and 8 agencies and service organizations participated in the conference.

Mississippi School for the Blind hosted the Mid-Winter Conference of the Mississippi Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired on February 18, 2000. The conference focused on the lifetime transitional needs of visually impaired individuals and was attended by 75 persons.

The educational programs/agencies that were served through some aspect of the MSB Outreach Program in the 1999-2000 school year were as follows:
Addie McBryde Rehab. center for the Blind Arlington Elementary School (Pascagoula)
Belhaven College Carroll County School District
Columbus City Schools French Elementary School
Hinds Community College Jackson Public Schools
Jackson Public Schools Jefferson Davis County School District
Lamar County School District Madison County School District
McKeller Technology Center Meridian Public Schools
Middle Mississippi Girl Scout Troup (Millcreek/Rankin County) Millsaps College
Miss. Assoc. for the Educ. and Rehabilitation for the Blind and Visually Impaired Mississippi Children's Rehab. Center (UMC)
Mississippi College Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services (Blind Services)
North Bolivar County School District Oxford School District
Pearl Lower Elementary School Pisgah Elementary School
Research and Rehabilitation Training Center (Mississippi State University) South Panola School District
St. Andrews Middle School Parent Union County School District
University Medical Center University of Numberg (Germany) Visiting Professor

7. MSB Choir/Piano/Band

The 1999-2000 school year provided numerous opportunities for the MSB Singers and piano students to participate in special programs, both on and off the campus. Students performed at the annual Lions Christmas Program, the Spring Piano Recital, and Graduation 2000. Senior student, Lehne Brasseal, placed second in a national piano contest for blind students. Lehne is one of many students who attended MSB and earned music scholarships to colleges and universities.

The 1999-2000 school year was a rebuilding year for MSB's band program, due to the retirement of former band director, Mr. Claude Smith, who served MSB for over thirty years. Eighteen students participated in band/instrumental instruction with ten students playing in the Lions Christmas Program, as well as other special programs throughout the year. The MSB Pep Band played at pep rallies and other special events, and individual band students performed for other special programs.

8. 1999-2000 MSB Athletic Year

MSB's athletic programs are designed to provide the students an opportunity to participate in organized programs which encourage students to develop intellectually, physically, and socially. During the 1999-2000 school year, nearly 50% of all students enrolled in grades 7- 12 participated in one or more of the athletic programs offered by the department. MSB holds membership in the Mississippi High School Athletic Association and the South Central Association of Schools for the Blind.

Athletics at MSB is similar to programs at other public or private schools in the state, and includes programs in boys and girls track and field, swimming, wrestling, and cheerleading. Pep rallies are a very important element in the school's athletic program, contribute to the development of school morale, and build and enhance self-esteem among the students.

Cheerleading. The eight-member varsity cheerleading squad coached by Ms. Evone Wall, earned outstanding recognition during the 1999-2000 school year. This team demonstrated that visual impairments do not limit ones desire to achieve. Monika Carney of Collins and Lisa Jones of Pachuta, were candidates for All American Cheerleader honors. Two members of the MSB Cheerleading squad placed Third in the 4th Annual South Central Association of Schools for the Blind (SCASB) Conference hosted by MSB in January, 2000.

Wrestling. Coach Mr. Randy Thompson led the MSB Tigers to a successful season, beginning with the annual Homecoming matches, which included a round robin match with Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired and the Arkansas School for the Blind. The Wrestling Tigers participated in the SCASB Conference Match in Alamogordo, New Mexico. They placed second of five teams competing. The 2000 team included two Conference Champion Wrestlers.

Swimming. Coached by Mr. Perry Boyanton, MSB's swimming program is moving from infancy towards competition. Both elementary and high school students are involved in this new sport.

Girls' Track and Field. Coached by Mr. Eddie Spann, nine high school girls competed in the SCASB Conference Match in Alamogordo, New Mexico this year. Their hard work yielded them Third Place in the Conference Championship. Lisa Jones won the Most Outstanding Track and Field Class B/C Award.

Boys' Track and Field. The pride and tradition of this team has kept MSB Athletics in the forefront of this sport. The 1999-2000 team made its first appearance in the Jackson Public School Invitational Track and Field Meet. The team did an admirable job and demonstrated to the public that MSB Athletes are true competitors. During the SCASB Track and Field Championships held in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the team captured Second Place in conference competition, marking the tenth time the team has finished first or second in the past 11 years. Kenneth Carpenter, a junior from Marks, Mississippi, received the Most Outstanding Blind Award in Class A for his outstanding performance.

9. Residential Services

MSB residential students are housed in five modern dormitories and an independent living unit. The new MSB Student Center is located in close proximity to the dormitories.

The independent living unit is primarily used by Senior Level students and offers them an opportunity to experience living in an apartment atmosphere for one semester. These students are supervised by a Residential Education Parent, who assists them with planning menus, grocery shopping, cooking meals, housekeeping, etc., and transports them to various activities.

High school and junior high dorms are equipped with computers with large screen monitors. These computers are available for students to use in completing homework assignments and for leisure.

All students in MSB's residential program have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, including: wrestling, swimming, participating in track and field, cheerleading, playing table games, attending parties in the student center, visiting local parks, dining in area restaurants, going on educational leisure trips, and for many other activities that the students assist in planning.

10. Low Vision Clinic Report

The Jackson Central Lions Low Vision Clinic moved into its new facility at MSB in January, 2000. The Low Vision Clinic now has an official waiting room, workroom, examination room, office, two training rooms, storage room, and an Orientation and Mobility classroom in the suite designed specifically for the Clinic and its' services.

The Low Vision Clinic serves MSB students and students from off-campus on Wednesday of each week during the school term. There were 124 clinic appointments for off-campus students this year, serving 110 students. Approximately 44% of this number were ages 5 to 12; 34%, birth to age 4; and 22 %, ages 13 to 21 years. The ocular conditions of students evaluated by the Low Vision Clinic were many. Retinal and optic nerve conditions accounted for over 60% of the cases, while 40% of students exhibited one or more of the following: neurologically induced visual impairments, aphakia, ocular media opacities, aniridia, glaucoma, and other. The majority of students with appointments in the Low Vision Clinic were from the Third and Fourth Congressional Districts, but students from all five Congressional Districts were seen.

Students from the following counties were served:
Adams Harrison* Lincoln* Pike
Alcorn Hinds* Lowndes Rankin*
Attala* Holmes* Madison* Scott*
Bolivar Jackson Marion Simpson
Carroll Jasper Monroe* Sunflower*
Clarke Lafayette* Montgomery Tate*
Copiah* Lamar* Neshoba Warren
Forrest* Lauderdale* Newton* Wilkinson
Franklin Leake Perry* Yazoo* 

*Indicates more than one student visiting the Clinic.

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