Members of the Riverwood Women’s Club, located in the Del Webb community of Nocatee, visited St. Augustine Nov. 15 for a tour of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.
A public school for eligible deaf/hard of hearing and low vision students, FSDB is the largest school of its type in the United States. The visit was arranged through Amy Moring, director of development, who welcomed the group and talked about the school’s founding in 1885, its subsequent history, programs and student population.
The members of the women’s club then toured parts of the nearly 80-acre campus, which includes student dormitories and separate schools for blind and deaf students from preschool through grade 12. Some were able to visit classrooms and learned how the school’s highly- trained teachers succeed in helping their students utilize their many resources and up-to-date technology. For example, in the 4th grade classroom of the blind department, teacher Alex Ritter demonstrated how the computers and other visual aids are adapted to meet the varying needs of her low-vision students. In the science classroom, the visitors were able to hear firsthand an enthusiastic explanation from 7th grade student Malcomb on how he conducted his science experiment under the direction of his teacher, Dr. Kathleen Foley. Another highlight was a visit to the Deaf and Blind Designs classroom, where students design products including t-shirts, coffee mugs, stuffed animals and other items to sell, with profits going back to the program. Students can gain college credit for their designs, with the possibility of obtaining paid work opportunities outside of class. Club members also learned how students navigate the classrooms and hallways, and how they are encouraged to use their abilities to achieve as much independence as possible, both in and out of the classrooms. Box lunches prepared by the students were enjoyed after the tours. Over lunch, the ladies enjoyed short films produced through the Eyes Alive program, where students act out stories using sign language that is then captioned for the audience. Guests were treated to viewings of Aesop’s fable, The Lion and the Mouse, and The Honest Woodcutter. Student actors Elsie and Luis explained through signing how much they’ve enjoyed and benefited from this program under the direction of their teacher, Jessica Stultz. Members of the Riverwood Women’s Club expressed how much they enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the programs offered by the school.