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A photo pinned to a cork board of Megan in a face mask holding a military jacket. Meet APH Scholar Megan Macy

APH is proud to recognize Megan Macy, nominated by Ex Officio Trustee (EOT) Tanya Armstrong, as a 2022-2023 APH Scholar.

Before becoming a TVI, Megan served in the Nebraska Army National Guard’s 1057th Truck Company from 1997 to 2005 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Afterwards, she earned a Bachelor’s in Social Sciences with a Concentration in Education and a Minor in Child Development from Ashford University. She obtained her Masters in Education with a specialization in teaching Mathematics through National University. Upon graduation, Megan taught 5th grade in California and Maryland before moving back to Nebraska in 2019. At that time, the Special Education Director at Educational Service Unit (ESU) #13 was looking to fill an itinerant TVI position. After some deliberation, Megan decided to apply. She said, “My first year I worked part-time while taking 18 credit hours through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s TVI program in order to be eligible for a provisional endorsement in the state of Nebraska. Meanwhile, I was provided with a laptop, Zoom account, and a mentor TVI that guided me through an entire caseload of students where I performed services with students on one side of the computer, and the mentor ran services from the other side of the computer. By year two, I was full-time and performing all services independently for my entire service area. I finished my TVI program by the summer of my second year. This year, I was accepted into a Masters of Education program through UNL to add Orientation and Mobility to my credentials so I can offer more services to the students I support.”

 

On the Road

Today, Megan serves 33 students, 0-21, over 14,000 square miles in the state of Nebraska. Four students are braille learners while the majority are legally blind with a high incidence of CVI. “I typically serve local students one day a week and the other days I am on the road,” said Megan. “I leave my home and stop at schools on the way into the office where I pick up an ESU car. From there, I strategically create routes that maximize the use of my time and eat lunch in my car between visits. While on the road, I make phone calls and take voice notes if needed. I will see up to 6 students in a day while traveling up to 4 hours round trip, and I frequently need to find a space to do a meeting or a virtual service in the middle of my travel.”

 

Utilizing APH Products

Megan said, “Each student on my caseload requires my attention and in order to make that happen, I have to not only rely on Zoom for services but also must train staff so my schools can be self-sufficient. I rely heavily on PageBlaster with my remote braille students because my schools can easily create braille on demand, and I can send custom products to be printed immediately via Google folders I share with my schools.”

Megan uses the I-M-ABLE Kit and Building on Patterns curriculum programs to teach braille to her students. For a multisensory approach to teach braille, she incorporates games and activities into her lessons with APH products including the Hop-a-Dot Mat, the Lots of Dots series, programs on the APH SMART Brailler by Perkins, LEGO Braille Bricks, and Finger Walks, which students can take home and use when playing with their families. Megan said, “These products are fun for students, easy for other professionals to utilize that do not know braille, and meet the needs for program planning with remote and in-person services.“

Megan’s other favorite products include the LED Mini-Lite Box and accompanying materials, Animal Recipes, and APH books such as Holy Moly. “I also adapt materials and build other custom resources from the base of some APH products to meet the more specific needs of my students,” said Megan.  “For example, I make digital versions of the cards in the CVI Complexity Sequence Kit on an iPad. My students are not ready for as much complexity as the cards offer so I use Keynote to build a sequence with the cards that I modify by using the instant alpha feature in the program. These students get really excited by sound and movement still, so I incorporate animations and fun sounds that are activated by touching the screen.”

Alongside working with students, Megan provides colleagues and families with APH catalogs and highlights areas of interest to them. When a teacher or other staff member finds what they like, Megan pushes it through the Nebraska Instructional Resource Center (NIRC) and provides the client with an expected delivery date. This ensures that students receive all necessary materials.

Megan’s favorite part of her job is the students she serves. They are patient, resilient, and brave. She said, “I like to take problems to my students and have them tell me what they want or need in order for something to be accessible to them. I have been modeling this practice to some of the other providers I work with, and we are finding that it takes less time to get materials right for the student and the student is self-advocating more.”

Looking at her career, Megan reflected, “I absolutely fell in love with this field on day one and each day fall deeper. What we all do to serve students with visual impairment is huge and life-changing!” To her colleagues, she said, “Remember, the students appreciate you so much, and they can’t do this thing called education without you.”

 

Praise for Megan

EOT, Tanya Armstrong, said, “Megan is a true professional and an advocate for students and families. She is intelligent, driven, creative, positive, and a person others would be fortunate to meet.”

 

Looking Toward the Future

When asked about her hopes for the future of the blindness field, Megan said she wants to recruit more TVIs and COMs to serve students. She would also like technology and materials, such as tactile graphics, that are less complex and expensive. This would make classrooms more accessible for students and allow TVIs to spend less time creating materials from scratch.

 

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.

Beginning in 2020, APH has worked with each scholar to provide a webinar for professional development or contribute to the APH Hive learning management system. These trainings highlight the APH products used in the scholar’s professional life, how they used them, or include ‘out of the box’ creativity. During Annual Meeting, the Scholars participate in a panel discussion about their service to individuals who are blind or have a visual impairment. Scholars also participate in the building of the EPAC and ESAC committee reports, with commendations and recommendations provided for APH during their Spring meeting.

 

Check back to learn about other new scholars!

 

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