Meet APH Scholar Jeanne Neu
APH is excited to recognize Jeanne Neu, nominated by EOT, Stephanie Bissonette, as one of our 2023-2024 APH Scholars.
Jeanne’s introduction to the blindness field came late in her career. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from the University of Vermont, Jeanne taught physics and chemistry. Upon relocating to Vermont, Jeanne taught dance for many years and was the office manager for the studio. She said, “After the owner of the studio passed away, I got back into the schools, first subbing, then as a paraeducator working one-on-one with intensive needs students, then as a Deafblind Intervener for five years, then I went back to school for my Master’s in Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and became a TVI.” This is Jeanne’s second year working as a TVI for the Vermont Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired, providing itinerant services to students ages 3-22 in ten public schools along the Western side of Vermont.
Utilizing APH Products
Jeanne uses APH products with all her students to facilitate learning. She said, “My favorite use of an APH product was with a student who has CVI, no motor control, and no expressive language. I used APH’s LED Light Box and materials to help teach her basic skills, such as visual fixation, tracking, and recognition. This allowed her to increase her visual skills, so she was ready for me to recommend a trial run with an eye gaze system. One of the first pictures put on the system was of her dad. When she rested her gaze on the picture, the system said, ‘Daddy.’ She moved her gaze to her father’s face. I was thrilled to facilitate this life-changing moment for this first grader and her family, by using APH materials.”
Other products Jeanne uses in her classroom include the Trifold Board and Talking Glow Dice. The Trifold Board blocks out extraneous visual distractions and allows Jeanne to stick things to it using Velcro so the student can focus on the lesson. During math class, Jeanne uses the Talking Glow Dice. “One of the ways I incorporate this into lessons is to have a student roll the Glow Dice and then set that number on a Cranmer Abacus,” Jeanne said. “Next, we move on to using the Glow Dice and the abacus to add practice addition. I also use the Glow Dice to practice ‘greater’ and ‘less’ by taking turns rolling the Glow Dice and having the student say who had the greatest number.” Also, Jeanne is working with one of her student’s science teachers to incorporate Code Jumper into universally designed lessons in their classroom.
Jeanne enjoys working with her students. She said, “Because I am an itinerant TVI in a small state, I generally work with only one student at a time. This gives me the opportunity to really get to know the student so I can help the student access materials and curriculum in their school.”
Jeanne’s students taught her patience and perseverance. “I continue to learn to slow down and listen to the student, especially from my students who are complex and have multiple disabilities,” Jeanne said. “I should also say that ‘listen’ is not just hearing what the student says. It is being aware of all types of communication. It is knowing that behavior is communication.”
Outside of her duties as a TVI, Jeanne is the VABVI Statewide Specialist for Literacy. This year, she attended webinars on literacy for students with visual impairments and shared that knowledge with TVIs across her state. Jeanne also attended quarterly meetings, supporting her colleagues with various questions or needs. Next year, Jeanne will be working as a Deafblind Statewide Consultant. She said, “Because I am also a Deafblind Intervener, I switched to this position along with my TVI position. I am excited about this, because working with students who are deafblind has been a passion of mine since I first started working as an Intervener. I will disseminate information on deafblind education and be a resource to all of Vermont’s TVIs.”
Praise for Jeanne
EOT, Stephanie Bissonette said, “Jeanne’s strong work ethic makes her committed to her students’ success and committed to the field. She is the ideal employee, knowing when to ask questions as a newbie, is able to follow directions from her supervisor and peers, and she is willing to dig deeper to expand her knowledge of teaching skills for a wide variety of students with a visual impairment, from complex students to academic students.”
Looking Toward the Future
In the future, Jeanne would like to see an increase in TVIs, which would help alleviate the shortage. “In Vermont, we have been able to make do with what we have but having more TVIs would allow for students to get even more services than they already do. It would also help to bring in more perspectives and opinions. I also hope we can help educate the general public and work toward a truly inclusive world,” Jeanne said.
More about the Program
Each year, EOTs are asked to nominate someone they feel provides outstanding service in their region. Through a scholarship, awardees attend the APH Annual Meeting in Louisville, KY as a guest of APH. APH pays for all expenses in attending the conference, including transportation to the meeting, conference registration, and hotel accommodations.
Additionally, APH invites scholars to share their experiences with the rest of the users of APH products and services, for example, via webinars and reviewing courses in the APH Hive. During the spring Trustee Advisory Committee Meeting, scholars will be asked to participate in a panel discussion about their service to individuals who are blind or have a visual impairment as well as participate in the review of APH products and services with the committee.
We look forward to meeting the 2023-2024 APH Scholars at our 155th Annual Meeting in October.
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