Mississippi Department of Education     1999 Annual Report
Mississippi School For The Blind
1. Instructional Services 6. Outreach Program
2. Prevocational/Deaf-Blind Department 7. MSB Choir/Piano/Band
3. MSB Work Experience Program 8. 1997-98 MSB Athletic Year
4. Comprehensive Home-Based Intervention Program (CHIP) 9. Residential Services
5. Instructional Resources Center 10. Low Vision Clinic Report

The mission of Mississippi School for the Blind (MSB) is to promote the development of each visually impaired child's or youth's maximum potential by providing specialized services, materials, and technology. This mission has remained constant since MSB was founded in 1848 by an act of the Mississippi Legislature. It is accomplished through the collaborative efforts of the Mississippi Department of Education, MSB's staff, students, parents, alumni, and supporters throughout the state. MSB serves any eligible student without regard to the child's economic status, religious affiliation, ethnic background, or sex. This annual report provides a status on the services provided during the 1997-98 school year.

1. Instructional Services

MSB offers a fully accredited elementary and secondary program (K-12). The school continues to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Courses of study are offered that are comparable to those available in any accredited public school. Depending on individual needs, each student may also be provided training in the areas of braille, low vision, orientation and mobility, daily living skills, use of computers, and adaptive technology, as appropriate for the student's visual abilities and educational level.

Honor Roll and Perfect Attendance. Mississippi School for the Blind encourages and supports student achievement in each program level offered. Perfect attendance is recognized as well, but regular school attendance is stressed for all students. Honor Roll and Perfect Attendance rosters are posted each nine weeks. The communication committee distributes photographs of honor students to the students' hometown newspapers to keep the public informed of our students' progress.

On an average during the 1997-98 School Term, 51.6% of the elementary and 44.1% of the pre-vocational departments maintained grades of "B" or "S" or better. The average percentage of the high school department earning grades of "B" or better was 59.2%. Perfect Attendance was attained by 38.8% of the student body over the year on average for the 1997-98 Term.

Graduating Class of 1998 Profile. The MSB Class of 1998 graduated five students, three of whom received academic diplomas. As of Fall Semester, 1998, one student is enrolled in a state four-year university; another is attending a local community college with plans to transfer to a four-year university after completing the two-year community college program. Two students are working at Signature Works in Hazlehurst, one of whom attended the Addie McBryde Center during the summer of 1998. The fifth student is employed in his home area and also has hopes to attend a Lions training camp in Little Rock, Arkansas, to study machining or engine repair.

It is of special significance that the Mississippi School for the Blind and the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation work closely with graduating seniors and juniors to promote this kind of independence. Special populations college counselors, college teachers, parents, sheltered workshop directors, and other employers are also included in the transition process from high school, to college to work, as needed on a student-to-student basis.

Extended School Year. Twenty-nine students were served through our ESY program during the summer of 1998. Staff members traveled to the homes of the majority of these students and provided services in the areas identified by the IEP team.

Curriculum Update. The 1997-98 School Year marked the beginning of a schoolwide team effort to align MSB with the state curriculum framework by subject area. Teachers began the process of incorporating MDE framework competencies into their classroom teaching and revising or adding specific objectives related to those competencies. MSB has adopted the framework for all subject areas, even for those specific to the needs of visually impaired students.

2. Prevocational/Deaf-Blind Department

During the 1997-98 School Year, twenty-four children with multiple disabilities and dual sensory impairments were provided instructional and other specialized services, including seven children with both hearing and vision impairments. The MSB/MSD Deaf-Blind Program was also officially established in 1997-98. The purpose of this program is to develop appropriate educational service delivery to those students of the Mississippi School for the Blind and the Mississippi School for the Deaf with dual sensory impairments of vision and hearing.

The curriculum that was begun two years ago was completed and transformed into the state framework for the various subject areas. A staff member presented at the school's sesquicentennial conference in March, 1998. The title of her presentation was "Leisure Time for Blind Children with Multiple Impairments." This staff member was invited to provide training in leisure skills to the staff at the Helen Keller School of Alabama. Opportunities for vocational development have enabled graduates of the program to gain experience ranging from campus employment and work study to sheltered workshops.

3. MSB Work Experience Program

The Work Experience Program was developed as a pilot program during the spring semester of 1997-98, for the purpose of providing meaningful learning experiences through which students can gain first-hand knowledge of the world of work, develop and define useful skills and habits, and acquire employability skills through part time employment. The program's emphasis is not to replace permanent staff, but to provide job training and experience for the students. Prior to receiving job assignments on the campus, they were required to complete employment applications and to participate in job interviews. Ten students, including three from the Prevocational Department and seven from the Senior High Department, participated and were allowed to work a maximum of ten hours per week.

4. Comprehensive Home-Based Intervention Program (CHIP)

Eligible visually impaired children from birth to age five are served by teachers who are specially trained in the needs of visually impaired children, as well as the needs of young children. Services are home based and provided free of charge with the aim of preparing children for entrance in appropriate classroom learning situations. The specific developmental needs of each child are addressed, and direct training in methods appropriate for use in enhancing each child's overall development is provided for parents. Intervention ranges from baby rattles and parental nurturing programs to pre-mobility and lap-top computer pre-braille instruction.

The program served 73 children during the 1997-98 school term, residing in the following locations:
Beulah Hattiesburg (2) Port Gibson
Biloxi (3) Hazlehurst (2)  Philadelphia
Bolton Indianola (2) Picayune
Brandon (2) Iuka Runnelstown
Carthage Jackson (4) Shaw
Clarksdale Kosciusko Sidon
Cleveland Kilmichael Starkville
Coldwater Kiln Tishomingo
Columbia Leland Troy
Corinth Louisville Tupelo
Decatur Merigold Vidalia
Durant Moorhead (4) Vicksburg
Ecru Moselle Walls
Ethel Natchez (3) Water Valley
Greenville New Albany (2) Wesson (2)
Greenwood (2) Oxford Wiggins
Gulfport (3) Pearl (3) Yazoo City (2)

5. Instructional Resources Center

The Instructional Resources Center serves as the clearing house repository for large-type and braille textbooks for the Mississippi Department of Education. Textbooks are purchased with state and federal funds and are provided on a free-loan basis to eligible students who attend public schools and certain private schools approved by the Mississippi Department of Education. A total of 285 students were served during the 1997-98 school year.

6. Outreach Program

Through a variety of activities, the Outreach Program provides technical assistance to local schools and districts serving visually impaired students. Primarily, technical assistance is provided on a monthly basis through a one-day inservice training activity held on the campus of Mississippi School for the Blind. The training exposes participants to information regarding types of vision losses; curricula and adaptations; specific educational concerns for visually impaired children; orientation and mobility; low vision assessment and low vision aids; and how to obtain large print and Braille materials. Training techniques used include small group lectures, video taped instruction, group participation, hands-on-activities, and classroom observations.

Teachers, teacher assistants, principals, counselors, therapists and parents are eligible to attend the training sessions. Arrangements must be made in advance through the Outreach Department. During the 1997-1998 school year, outreach training was provided for 25 individuals from 13 programs across the state.

In conjunction with the Office of Special Education, two classes were taught by MSB staff members this summer. An introduction to the Braille code, the Braille writer, and the Braille writing rules were the emphasis of the first class. A total of 29 individuals participated. Time was provided for individual practice with the code and the writer under the watchful eye of the instructors. Each participant who completed the week's work developed a beginning knowledge of Braille. Each participant was provided with a programmed learning Braille text to continue personal study. The second class emphasized strategies that should be included in a program for children who are visually impaired. Topics addressed included Braille literacy instruction, orientation and mobility for teachers, understanding low vision needs, and selecting the appropriate learning media for students. There were 10 participants in the second class.

The programs outlined above assist local school districts who have visually impaired children in attendance. However, they do not provide certification of a local school district's program. If a school district requires more in-depth technical assistance, interagency agreements are entered into between Mississippi School for the Blind and the local district.

The educational programs/agencies that were served by the Outreach Program during the 1997-1998 school year were as follows:
Bay St. Louis/Waveland Schools District Brookhaven School District
Claiborne County School District Clarksdale Separate School District
Copiah County School District DeSoto County School District
Forest Municipal School District Greenville Public School District
Grenada School District Hattiesburg Public School District
Houston Lower Elementary School Indianola School District
Jackson County School District Jackson Public School District
Jefferson County School District Kosciusko School District
Lauderdale County School District Lee County School District
Lowndes County School District Madison County School District
Montgomery County School District Mound Bayou Public School District
MS. Deaf/Blind Project - USM Mt. Sinai Headstart Center
North Bolivar School District North Tippah School District
Ocean Springs Public Schools Oxford School District
Pass Christian Public School District Pearl Public School District
Riley Children's Therapy Center South Panola School District
South Tippah School District Tate County Schools
Union County School District West Jasper Consolidated School District
Winona Separate School District

7. MSB Choir/Piano/Band

During the 1997-98 school year, the MSB Singers performed for such functions as American Education Week, a local Lions Club Meeting, the Annual Lions Christmas Program, the Annual Spring Choral and Band Concert, and the graduation ceremony. During this year's piano recital, Lehne Brasseal performed "Moonlight Sonata" by Beethoven and Op. 27, No. 2.

Approximately 29 MSB students participated in band/instrumental instruction, seven of whom were advanced enough to perform as regular members of the band for special events. Performances were given at Murrah High School, Lions Club Meetings, the annual Lions Club Christmas Program, the Athletic Banquet and the Spring Festival. The Pep Band played at Pep Rallies before special events and individual band students performed for special programs throughout the year.

8. 1997-98 MSB Athletic Year

The MSB athletic program has continued to provide quality athletic programming for the students. During this school year, nearly 75% of all high school students participated in one or more sports. MSB's athletic department offers the following programs:

Girls Track and Field - Coached by Mr. Eddie Spann. The MSB team has made great strides toward bringing a girls' conference to MSB. A more "I can" attitude is developing, and the rewards of this change can be seen as all members return after placing second in the SCASB Track and Field Championships. The best is yet to come for these young ladies.

Boys Track and Field - Coached by Mr. Walter Harper, Jr. The pride and tradition of this team has kept MSB athletics in the forefront of track and field competition in the South. MSB set standards in this sport by capturing its fifth consecutive conference championship--1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998. MSB Tigers receiving individual honors were Taurus Smith, Smithville, who won the "Most Outstanding Blind Athlete Award", and Terrell Brownlee, Columbus, who won the "Most Outstanding Sighted Athlete Award". This was the first year MSB athletes were honored with these prestigious awards in the SCASB Conference.

Cheerleading - Coached by Ms. Evone Wall. Preparation for this outstanding year was begun by participation in the annual summer cheerleading camp at Belhaven College. The MSB team earned outstanding recognition and demonstrated to the other attendees that their visual impairments did not limit their desire to achieve. Monika Carney of Collins was nominated by the staff as a candidate for "All American Cheerleader."

Swimming - Coached by Mr. Perry Boyanton. This sport, still in its infancy at MSB, was focused on introducing the students to swimming and competition. Dedicated practice, development of strokes, coordination of future events/clinics were part of the activities which would lead to formal competition in the next school year.

Wrestling - Coached by Mr. Randy Thompson. This year's team proved that the loss of several seniors would not deter their ability to compete. The season began with the annual Homecoming match with MSB taking on two opponents in a round robin match. The MSB Tigers defeated Arkansas School for the Blind 48-18, the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired 48-33, and went on to a successful season by finishing third in the SCASB Conference Championship.

9. Residential Services

MSB dorm students were housed in two MSD dorms during 1997-98 School Year. Eleven high school girls and nine elementary girls were housed in B-North Dormitory. Eighteen high school boys and sixteen elementary boys were housed in Burt Hall. The students looked forward to the 1998-99 School Year when the five new dormitories would be available for occupancy.

Residential students are taught independent living skills and participate in a variety of educational and recreational activities including meals at local restaurants, skating, "Horses for the Handicapped," the Mississippi State Fair, athletic events and the seasonal and holiday observances.

10. Low Vision Clinic Report

There were a total of 93 students evaluated by the Jackson Central Lions Low Vision Clinic in the 1997-98 School Year. Of these, 28 were ages 0-4 years (30%), 47 were ages 5-12 (51%), and 18 were 13 years in age or older (19%). These students were seen for either full evaluations or progress evaluations (had been seen for a full evaluation previously).

Overall, full evaluations made up 53% of the Low Vision Clinic's examinations while 47% were progress evaluations for students who had been evaluated previously. Students were from the following counties:
Adams Harrison Madison Pike
Alcorn Hinds Marion Quitman
Bolivar Jackson Monroe Rankin
Chickasaw Lauderdale Montgomery Scott
Copiah Lafayette Neshoba Simpson
Covington Leake Newton Tate
DeSoto Lee Noxubee Warren
Forrest Lincoln Pearl River Washington
Hancock Lowndes Perry Winston

Low vision aids that were prescribed for a particular student were made available through the Clinic's low vision aid loaner program with the schools. According to the loaner agreement, which must be signed by the district superintendent and the program developer, these aids are loaned for a year at a time to the school district for the student with the understanding that the student must return annually for a progress evaluation.

Return to Main Menu

  Click here to go to Mississippi School for the Deaf
  Click here to go to 1996-97 Mississippi School for the Blind data