National Federation of the Blind Celebrates Teachers of Tomorrow Announcing the 2023-2024 Cohort of this Innovative Program
Baltimore, Maryland (September 20, 2023): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is proud to announce the members of the newest cohort of the NFB Teachers of Tomorrow program. Our NFB Teachers of Tomorrow program is an immersive, professional development program that connects teachers of blind and low-vision students to the lived experiences of blind people. This program will equip the cohort with knowledge of the skills and attitudes that can help blind students thrive in school and beyond. We focus on the perspective of the blind community, drawing on the expertise of blind mentors and teachers experienced in integrating this perspective into their work with students and families. The program kicks off this week at the NFB Jernigan Institute in Baltimore and continues throughout the 2023-2024 school year. The program is free to participants.
Over the next several months, participants will engage in virtual and in-person activities focused on subjects including the tools and techniques used by blind people in everyday life, the best strategies for teaching Braille, how to help blind students advocate for themselves, and accessible STEM instruction. This will allow them to obtain tangible examples of strategies, a real-time exchange of ideas and concepts, and opportunities to develop personal/professional relationships.
“Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because it is low expectations that create obstacles between blind people and our dreams,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “This program is helping teachers of blind students to raise expectations and connecting them and their students with a network of blind people who can provide mentorship and support. We look forward to collaborating with this new cohort of teachers and to seeing the positive impact they will have on blind children and youth, their families, and the education system.”
Meet the members of the new 2023-2024 NFB Teachers of Tomorrow cohort in their own words:
Katrina Albert, New York
I am currently earning my certification at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania where I’ll graduate with my Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) certificate as well as a master’s in Multicultural Education with a focus on teaching students who are blind and visually impaired. This year, I’m entering my eleventh year of teaching. I teach middle school ELA (English Language Arts) in New York City at a public school in the South Bronx, but I am incredibly eager to transition into a TVI role once I receive my certification. A fun fact about me is that I was named Katrina after the band Katrina and the Waves because my dad felt like he was “walking on sunshine” when I was born.
Colin Bernhardt, Washington
I am currently in the TVI program at Stephen F. Austin State University and teaching in the Yakima School District in Yakima, Washington. One interesting fact about me is that I have been to twenty Phish concerts. Plenty more to go.
Mary-Clare Cable, Alaska
I am currently at Portland State University obtaining my VIL (Visually Impaired Learner) master’s and teaching license, but I have been working as an itinerant paraprofessional in Alaska for ten years. One interesting fact about me is that I have been in two of the world's biggest earthquakes, one in 2011 and 2021.
Amanda (Mandy) Carpenter, Washington
I received my Teacher for the Blind Certification from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2018, and I completed my Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist (COMS) certification at Portland State University in 2022. I teach for the Richland School District in Washington State. I think some things that are interesting about me include: my colleague and I hosted the first regional Cane Quest (through the Braille Institute of America) event in the Pacific Northwest, and we are gearing up for our 2nd annual event which will take place in October, I am a mom to six boys, and I love to paddle board!
Kerri Clarkin, Louisiana
I received my certification from Western Michigan University and teach in Louisiana. One interesting fact is that I was born in Rhode Island and have a twin sister.
Jennifer Farlow, Texas
I received my Master of Education in teaching from Syracuse University and my certification as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment from Stephen F. Austin University. I teach in the Denton Independent School District which serves students from the City of Denton, Texas and nearby communities. Since becoming empty nesters, my husband and I have adopted senior dogs who have been abandoned.
Lacey Goforth, Utah
I received my TVI certification from the University of Utah and my O&M training from the University of Northern Colorado. I teach in Utah. In addition to a career in the field of visual impairment, I am also a part-time professional dog trainer.
Rebecka Gullickson, Washington
I am currently attending Texas Tech University receiving my master's in special education with an emphasis in Visual Impairment. I have a year left until my certification. I work in Washington State at the School for the Blind as a high school English teacher. One interesting fact about me is I have multicolored eyes. My right eye is blue and brown, and my left eye is green.
Jesse Hagen, Virginia
I attended George Mason University to get my Master's in special education with an endorsement in visual impairment. I live and work in Virginia. I love to learn how to make things when there's time, such as blacksmithing, sewing, making kefir, and making soap from scratch. I also enjoy social and folk dancing such as contra, square, blues, salsa, and I'm taking west coast swing classes.
Stacey Holcomb, Florida
I received my MS in Visual Disabilities from Florida State University. I am a TVI in Florida. My interesting fact is I used to work at a recording studio and a radio station.
Kathleen (Katy) Jach, Washington
I obtained my TVI endorsement from Stephen F. Austin University in 2020 and have since been teaching in Washington State. Fun fact, I was an exchange student in Argentina in 2012. There, I attended a local high school, traveled, and began my teaching journey by volunteering as an English instructor.
Heather Janes, Ohio
My program is the TVI Consortium through Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. I teach in Millbury, Ohio, which is just east of Toledo. An interesting fact about myself is that I love camping and being outdoors. My favorite thing to do while camping is to be close to rivers or lakes to take in the wildlife.
Kathryn (Kate) Sauls-Hopson, Florida
I received my MS in Visual Disabilities from Florida State University. I am a TVI in Florida, and I have experienced true weightlessness by getting to join a group of teachers on a Zero Gravity flight (nicknamed the vomit comet) and I'm happy to report that I did not get sick during the experience.
Deanna Shaver, Alabama
I live in Alabama. My program is from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. An interesting fact about myself is that I spent one summer teaching English in Italy at a summer camp.
Erika Valladares, California
I will receive a credential and master's degree in visual impairment from San Francisco State University, I teach in Fresno County California. An interesting fact about me is that I completed my BA in Spanish Literature at the University of Chicago.