News

Meet Melissa Snyder

Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at 11:00 pm

Categories: All News Items, Instruction, Spotlight, Student Programming

Like many vision professionals, Melissa Snyder’s path to NDVS/SB was not a straight one. “I started college at North Dakota State College of Science in Computer Programming and Web Design. After a year of school, I decided to look into other career areas, and education seemed to be a better fit for me.” It certainly has been. Melissa has gone on to obtain two master’s degrees in education (Early Childhood Special Education from Minot State and Special Education of the Visually Impaired from UND), as well as her Orientation and Mobility certification from the University of Northern Colorado. “I love to learn new things, and this job provides me with learning opportunities often,” she said. Find out how Melissa’s path led to NDVS/SB – and how to track her favorite restaurants – by reading on.   

Melissa and 5 other women pose smiling for the camera.
Melissa (far right) with fellow ND TVIs Julie, Danielle, Kristi, Lacey, and Brandi.

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Staying safe during the winter months when living with vision loss

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Categories: All News Items, Adult Programming News, Instruction

November is now upon us! For the people of North Dakota, the start of winter is also the time to prepare for traveling in icy and cold conditions.  

Treacherous winter weather comes with many hazards, including the possibility of falling on slippery, icy surfaces. It’s even more challenging as we get older and are less agile. 

Here are some simple things you can do to keep safe while out and about this winter:

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Scholarship information for students who are BVI

Monday, November 1, 2021

Categories: All News Items, Adult Programming News, Instruction, Student Programming

Below is a list of organizations that offer scholarships specifically for North Dakota students who are blind or low vision. If you have any additional questions, contact Shanna Hanson, NDVS/SB Transition Specialist at 701-795-2708 or shanhan@nd.gov

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Meet Mary Verlinde

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Categories: All News Items, Instruction, News Event, Spotlight

Mary poses smiling with 5 of her colleaguesMary Verlinde, the NDVS/SB Regional Coordinator for western North Dakota, loves her job and loves her colleagues. “NDVS/SB is a great place to work. I love having the support and understanding of my colleagues, both at work and outside of work. We are all striving for the same thing, which is to help individuals with vision loss. We all learn together!” 

Mary’s colleagues feel the same way about her. Mary is “compassionate,” said one colleague. “Fun to be around and dedicated to her students,” said another. “Helper and thinks outside the box.” The list goes on:

“Talented, modest, kind.” 

“An awesome Irish woman who is very knowledgeable in all areas of vision and always willing to lend an ear.” 

“A spitfire Irish mother with a wonderful and warm spirit of energy. You just admire her for all the hard work and care she uses when working with students and parents.”

“A seasoned TVI who always goes over and above for her students.”

“Always willing to help, whether it is to share ideas from her wealth of knowledge or jump into work on a project.”

Indeed, Mary is beloved at NDVS/SB and in the schools, homes, and communities in which she serves individuals with vision loss. Read on to find out how she stumbled into the vision field and why she is the queen of Queen.

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Partners in Providing Hope: A pre-optometry student explains how volunteering at NDVS/SB has affected her education

Monday, October 18, 2021

Categories: All News Items, News Event, Spotlight

Abby Wilhelmi, a pre-optometry student at UND, remembers the first time her optometrist placed a pair of glasses over her eyes. “He led me to a huge window in the clinic, and everything outside looked bigger and brighter,” she says. Abby, who was in third grade at the time, says that moment is why she decided to become an optometrist. “I will never forget what it was like to have my sight restored to full clarity, and I want to provide that for others.” 

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Project Little Room Finishes BIG!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Categories: All News Items, News Event

by Lion Tracy Wicken, Grand Forks South Forks Lions Club

Since March 2020, the NDSB Foundation has been soliciting donations from North Dakota Lions Clubs for Project Little Room. Little Rooms are child-sized partitions that are designed to give infants who are blind the opportunity to practice reaching and grasping and to begin to understand the concepts of space and objects. Different objects hang from the “ceiling” of the Little Room and may rest gently on the child’s stomach or above their head for them to reach for and grasp. Textures and objects can also be placed on the three walls of the Little Room. The child’s feet stick out, allowing the child to move and kick. Little Rooms were first conceptualized by Lilli Nielsen, a Danish psychologist who taught children who were blind or had multiple disabilities. Her curriculums and teachings on Active Learning are still considered groundbreaking today, and Little Rooms are utilized by children served by North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind who could benefit from their use. This fundraising project began when the need for Little Rooms outweighed our current supply. Thanks to the generosity of Lions Clubs around the state, the NDSB Foundation is now able to purchase new Little Rooms for NDVS/SB.

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Meet Kathy Grzadzielewski

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Categories: All News Items, Instruction, Spotlight, Student Programming

158,760. That is the number of miles that Kathy Grzadzielewski has driven over the 11 years she has worked for North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind. As a Regional Coordinator, Kathy serves the children aged birth to 21 in Region 3, the north-central area of the state, which includes the counties of Benson, Cavalier, Eddy, Foster, Nelson, Pierce, Ramsey, Rolette, Sheridan, Towner, and Wells. 

If you see her driving down the highway, she may be on her way to a child’s home, a student’s school, or another agency to serve a client. She may be traveling to assess the functional vision of a baby, to provide recommendations to schools to ensure a student has access to educational material, or to train other educators on how to adapt materials to make a classroom more conducive for learning. During short-term program weeks, Kathy drives to Grand Forks to assist with the classes and activities that are happening there. “This allows me to observe some of my students in a different setting and gives me a better understanding of the skills they have that we can build on.” 

Kathy also sometimes just picks up the phone and lends an ear. “All parents want the best for their child, and parents need to be a strong advocate for their child with a visual impairment. As they learn about their child’s visual impairment, there may be struggles along the way when teaching their child skills to become more independent.” Whether she’s driving or not, Kathy has made a difference in the lives of her students and colleagues over the years, and they in turn have had a big impact on hers. “I love the people I work with inside and outside of NDVS/SB, and every day seems to be a journey.”


Adult Short-term Program Update

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Categories: All News Items, Adult Programming News, Instruction

NDVS/SB will be hosting 5 short-term program weeks for adults over the next year. During these weeks, individuals who are new to vision loss, who are experiencing progressive vision loss, or who are interested in learning new skills to increase their independence receive intense training at the main facility in Grand Forks.

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Welcome to Student Short-Term Programs 2021-22 at NDVS/SB

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Categories: All News Items, Instruction, Student Programming

Middle Schoolers and 2 adults from Annie's House stand on a beach in front of a lake.by Cindy Williams, Coordinator of Student Programs

Welcome back to the 2021-2022 school year! I hope you are all adjusting well to your new school routine or soon will be! We are looking forward to working with your child/student this school year and are honored to be a part of your child’s/student’s educational team!

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How are things at NDVS/SB? 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Categories: All News Items, Superintendent

by Paul Olson, Superintendent of NDVS/SB

Has anyone else noticed that the world has become a little complicated? We thought we were past the worst of the pandemic and now there are new concerns. I know we all hope and pray our school year goes well and we all stay healthy! The region is hampered by drought which has hurt area farmers and ranchers. This certainly affects all North Dakotans directly or indirectly. There has been considerable inflation and wages have not kept up making life stressful for many. These things are just plain hard; there’s no sense in sugar coating and let’s not even get into politics! I can’t believe I’m writing this. This must be one of the most depressing beginning of the year newsletter articles ever written and what does any of this have to do with our services? Uff Da! One might ask “is there any good news at all?"

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