Our fall semester has been a wonder of accomplishment, surprises, and wishes come true. Our students continue to thrive in so many ways.
Two brief vignettes for you about students:
Kassandra and her guide dog Sabot: It is a pleasure for all of us to see them together. He is leading and guiding and protecting her from missteps, and she is in charge of him, telling him when he is “good” and occasionally correcting him with her voice when correction is required. Kassandra, everyone agrees, is clearly a dog person, who makes the distinction between when her dog is a pal and when he is working on her behalf. As far as we can ascertain, Kassandra is the first OSB student to partner with a dog while still studying here. You can read about her and see pictures on the blog.
Douglas: He is quite simply fluent in two languages—English and Spanish. We discovered this one day when, in the middle of a hallway, he was assisting a teacher (fluent in English) who was having difficulty conveying her thoughts to a parent (fluent in Spanish). With the charm for which he is known, Douglas comfortably and effectively brought teacher and parent together. Later in the day, when observers complimented him, Douglas seemed to enjoy the compliments, but he also registered surprise: After all, he always knew that he is bilingual. (But perhaps he is also beginning to understand how valuable this knowledge and talent might be to him as he transitions into the world beyond Overbrook.)
You can read more about transition within and beyond our school in the upcoming 2011-2012 Annual Report, which will be released in late January, published in print and braille and posted on this web site in two versions—text only with description of the pictures and a pdf file with the pictures.
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Our vision and mission statements, which we have been reviewing as part of the Middle States Accreditation self-study, are viable, forward looking, pragmatic, and idealistic. They have been with us a long time and deserve to remain.
Nevertheless, there is more to be said, not in contradiction of these most important statements of who we are and who we wish to be, but in recognition of changing times, the needs of our current and future student population, and a world rife with financial uncertainty. (It should be noted, however, that because of our Board of Managers excellent fiscal responsibility and oversight, we have weathered and continue to weather what has been a global downturn.)
My vision for our school is to build upon the many past successes in establishing OSB as a “center of excellence,” by expanding the student body and diversifying the geographic areas that we serve; expanding and updating our leadership role in technology; continuing to support our staff as leaders in the specialized education of students who are visually impaired, blind, deafblind, and visually impaired with additional challenges; and improving the accessibility and viability of our 26-acre campus and its facilities.
If this sounds like a great deal to do, that’s because it is a great deal to do. Ambitious? Yes. Possible? Absolutely. Worth the effort, time, and expense? On behalf of our students, always.
We will talk more about this and continue to move forward for a long time to come, as our 180 year old school continues to grow, diversify, and expand according to the needs of the students we serve.