My name is Carmen Willings and I'd like to welcome you to my website, Teaching Students with Visual Impairments. My goal in creating this web resource is to provide you with the resources and education you need to help each student who is blind or visually impaired become successful members of their communities.
In addition to managing and developing articles and resources on this website, I work full time as an itinerant Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) with the Forsyth County public school system in Cumming, Georgia which is just north of Atlanta in the United States. I am married and the mother of one adult son and one teenage son. When time and finances allow, I love going on road trips and exploring National Parks and other locations that make America great. At home you'll find me binge watching British mysteries or Hallmark mysteries while working on my website, baking something in the kitchen, or getting in touch with my artistic side!
My Career Path
I graduated from Messiah College in Grantham, PA in 1994 with a degree in Elementary Education. Rather than teaching in the public schools, I decided to accept a position at the Forest Warren Department of Human Services in Warren, PA as an Early Intervention Specialist. In 1995 I moved to Cary, NC where I accepted a position at White Plains Children's Center, a non-profit developmental day program where I taught in an inclusive preschool classroom. At that time North Carolina was facing a shortage in early intervention and preschool teachers and I had the opportunity to take coursework through UNC-Charlotte to add on my certification in early intervention.
Entering the Vision Field
I entered the vision field in 1999 when I accepted a teaching position at the Governor Morehead Preschool on the campus of the Governor Morehead School for the Blind (GMS) in Raleigh, North Carolina. I was intimidated by all I needed to learn about working with this unique population but I was surrounded by a team of excellent teachers, specialists, and therapists who taught me about working with students who are blind and visually impaired. My position was contingent on becoming certified as a TVI. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take my coursework through the North Carolina Central University's Visual Impairment Program, utilizing their satellite classes on the GMS campus.
I left the school for the blind in 2003 when I accepted an itinerant position with the Wake County Public School System’s Visual Impairment Preschool Program. There, I served preschoolers throughout Wake County. We moved to Ohio in 2006 to be closer to the family (and free childcare - thanks, mom!!) when I accepted a position as an Itinerant TVI with the Mahoning County Educational Service Center (MCESC) serving students PreK - high school. I worked for the MCESC until 2013 when our family decided we missed the warmer climate (and I was particularly tired of driving in the snow!). I accepted a position with the Forsyth County School System and we moved to Cumming, Georgia where I continue to teach full time as an itinerant Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments.
I stepped out of my comfort zone and began presenting at state conferences in 2015. In 2018 I became an at-large board member with the Georgia chapter of AER and currently serve as the president. Additionally, in 2018 I completed the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC, a curriculum I had been working on since my early days at Governor Morehead. I also published several Grab-and-Go supplements to support activities within the book. Finally, in 2018, I was honored to be selected as one of the five 2018 APH Scholars. In 2019 I began developing recorded eCourses as an additional means to support fellow TVI's and began serving on the Georgia Vision Educators Statewide Training (GVEST) conference planning committee. In 2020 I was honored by the Georgia AER Board with the Bennett Baxley Award for my service to the Georgia Chapter and to the field of visual impairments. In 2021 I was nominated and accepted a position on the Smokey Powell Low Vision Clinic Advisory Board.
Why I Developed Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
The reason I developed this web resource is twofold. I had been working for years on developing a resource tool to help me provide consultation and support to classroom teachers. I found providing consultation to be one of the most challenging aspects of being an itinerant TVI. I found it difficult to coordinate the time to have uninterrupted collaboration with teachers and therapists. Additionally, I had created several resource handbooks for myself filled with notes from conferences, training and from VI resource books I had read. My files continued to grow and become quite cumbersome. I wanted a more efficient way to organize the information for quick reference.
After attending a website development training at a technology conference in October 2012, I realized I could create a website that would allow me to support all persons involved in educating students who are blind or visually impaired and also provide me with a means to organize and file all the resources and notes I had gathered over the years. What started as a means to support local teachers and my own needs have grown into a global educational resource! I am thrilled to hear from so many of you that Teaching Students with Visual Impairments has helped you and for some, has even become your go-to VI resource!
How I Can Help You
As you read in My Career Path, I have worked in a wide range of teaching positions in large school systems with many TVI’s and have also worked as the only TVI for a large countywide program. I have taught in the classroom as well as itinerantly. I have been employed by a State School for the Blind, an educational service center and public-school systems. I have experienced many of the frustrations and challenges you have experienced along with the growth that comes from each of those. This includes adapting instruction during the the COVID-19 global pandemic to keep myself and students safe.
It is my hope that whether you are a seasoned professional in the field of visual impairments, just entering the vision field, a classroom teacher learning how to meet the unique needs of a student with visual impairments, a parent of a student with visual impairments, or an administrator that you will find this site to be a helpful resource! My articles are developed through a combination of research and direct experience. I would love to partner with you and support you in educating students with visual impairments and to discover new ways to meet each student's unique visual and learning needs.
I am continuing to add to this website and update each article regularly. I am also in the process of developing new tools and presentations to support you and new resources to support students. If you have suggestions and feedback for this site, including topics you would like covered, or vision specific resources you would like added please feel free to share them with me. I enjoy hearing from so many people throughout the United States and around the world! Knowing you find this resource to be helpful is truly my inspiration!
All the best!
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Purchase the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC Complete Set and immediately unlock the pages within the ECC Complete Set Bonus including bonus printables, interactive sensory stories, interactive matching activities, interactive choice making activities, job task box activities and MORE! This is my way of continuing to support you and say "Thank you!" for choosing to purchase the Complete Set.
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