Cardinal CSD gains free resources, relevant professional development through Summer Institute

Amanda Jarvis of Cardinal School District realized she had to get a lot more creative. Although it wasn’t her first year working with students who were blind or visually impaired, there came a point when Jarvis needed to work through challenges with a student who refused to learn braille. She was glad she had resources in her pocket, gained from attending the free two-day Summer Institute hosted by Iowa Educational Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired (IESBVI).
“Through Summer Institute, I figured out how to utilize free resources,” said Jarvis, who is the district’s 5th – 12th grade special education teacher. “In the past, I didn’t know what to ask the teacher of the visually impaired for to help our students. I know what to ask for now; I know what is available to me.” Summer Institute provides more than 30 break-out sessions for educational staff who have a student served by IESBVI. Sessions at this late summer offering range from adapted PE to assistive technology. “Summer Institute offers reassurance, confidence and support to work with your blind or visually impaired student,” said Susan Brennan, Ph.D, an IESBVI regional director and coordinator of this year’s
Summer Institute.
Jarvis also benefitted from transition sessions at Summer Institute. “Small districts may not always know what services are out there for students and parents,” she said. “I knew how to help parents and students with intellectual disabilities, and after going to Summer Institute I know how to help our blind students be successful after graduation, too.”
The benefits of attending are many, according to Jarvis, who adds she would advocate for associates to be sent to Summer Institute as well as teaching staff. “I really like the fact this is a free conference- they feed you, you might get a travel stipend- the budget to send someone is pretty minimal. I’ve attended two years and there is still more to learn. I also value the networking with other principals and school staff who have blind students- we talk through our challenges and make suggestions to each other.”
Consider sending your staff to Summer Institute! Registration closes June 16.

Related: Iowa Educational Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired Summer Institute on July 31 & August 1