Tilly R. Steele - Florida State University
I started my teaching career in Special Education. I taught 10-12 grades in a Resource setting. Most of my students were Learning Disabled. I also had students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities as well as Mild/Moderate Mental Retardation. After a five year tenure as a Resource Teacher, I found myself burned out and needing a change. Fortunately, I received a flyer announcing grants at Vanderbilt University.
Vanderbilt is where I met Dr. Anne Corn. She introduced me to the world of visual impairment and blindness. During my time at Vanderbilt, I discovered that the field of blindness was my call in life. Upon graduation, I began working at the Tennessee School for the Blind (TSB) in Nashville, TN. I was fortunate to be a part of the newly established Outreach Program.
The Outreach Program was developed to assist school systems in TN meet the unique needs of children with visual impairment. Initially it was developed to assist those school systems that did not employ teachers of the visually impaired. It has grown beyond just providing services to this day.
In the summer of 2000, the Pennsylvania College of Optometry came to Nashville, TN to begin a Distance Education Certificate Program to train future Orientation and Mobility Instructors. Dr. Kathleen Huebner and Dr. Audrey Smith directed these classes with the assistance of Dr. Duane Geruschat, Dr. Robert Wall Emerson, and Frank Alexander. Upon completion of the academic portions of the program, I completed mobility internships at the Tennessee School for the Blind and the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta, GA. In the fall of 2003, I had completed all intern hours and then worked toward and obtained AER Certification.
In the fall of 2004, I moved to Gainesville, GA to be closer to my immediate family. I accepted an itinerant position in Hall County Schools as a CTVI/COMS. It was December of 2004 when I found out about the NCLVI Fellowship. I immediately began the application process.
I am truly humbled to be granted this opportunity. With my background in Special Education and Visual Impairment, I feel that Educational Leadership and Public Policy is the logical next step in my career. I aspire to become a college professor, a state coordinator, or maybe even working for OSEP one day. I am looking forward to the new and exciting opportunities that lie ahead. This is an exciting time in our field and I am honored to be a part of it.
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