What's New At The Academy
Presented by John Davis, Director, Minnesota State Academy for the Blind
Good morning, I'm happy to be here. This is my ninth year as the director of the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind. I'm here to give you an update on the busy year we have had at our academy.
We had our 150th anniversary celebration last November, and our choir gave a wonderful performance along with the choir from the Faribault high school. Throughout the year we worked on our accreditation with AdvancED; the visit from them occurred in the spring, and we did receive our full accreditation from AdvancED. Kudos to our staff for all the work going through that process.
We have had a very busy summer and fall. In our summer programs, this year we had about 65 students—the most students we have had for at least ten years. We are up to 62, plus 1 this week, making it 63 students in the school. I've been quite busy doing in-take meetings in the last couple of months. We lost about 10 but gained almost 24 students, for a net gain of 14. It is the most we have had in quite a while, and it seems to be continuing to grow.
We have an ongoing technology updating and improvement program, and this year we are in the process of installing interactive boards in all of the classrooms. We have updated all our iPads for the students, and we are also getting new laptops. Our IT group, led by Mr. Trebelhorn, is busy getting all that done, and I appreciate all their work.
For our students of transition age, as part of their evening dorm activities, they have been attending SSB's Career Connections workshops on a monthly basis. Also, we have brought in a group to talk about home safety with our Academy Plus students who are living in the semi-independent apartment and the independent house. The students will be touring BLIND, Inc. in November. Next week we have Joni Werner from SSI, coming to talk with the Academy Plus students to inform them about that process and answer any questions they may have.
Agency-wide, we are looking at redoing our strategic plan this year, including our five- and ten-year plan for buildings, as well as what we want to do on campus with respect to programming. This will be a bonding year in the state legislature, so we are looking at asset preservation money on our campus, as well as the ongoing ask for the track that we have discussed previously. The Governor is in support of the track, but it just has not made it through the legislative process as of yet—but hopefully this year.
Thank you, it has been great to be here, and I look forward to returning next year.