CONCORD, NH — August 14, 2018 — Organization is working towards educational advancement for students with sight impairments as the 2018-2018 school year approaches.
Future In Sight, a New Hampshire-based nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of children and adults who are blind or visually impaired through education, training, and support, announced today that Becky Berk, M.Ed. will be joining its team as Director of Education Services. This news comes as the organization forms a new collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) to help fill the need for Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVIs) and Orientation & Mobility Specialists (O&Ms).
Berk joins the team following a multi-year tenure as the executive director of Breakthrough Manchester, which she restructured from a three-year enrichment program to an evolved six-year college access program, executing a complex program shift and negotiating a critical partnership with Southern New Hampshire University. Prior to her work with Breakthrough Manchester, Berk served as quality improvement director of New Hampshire Children’s Trust, Inc. and as associate director of New Hampshire Center for Effective Behavioral Interventions and Supports.
“I’m looking forward to working with this amazing organization to expand the capacity and scope of their educational services,” said Berk. “Coming on board just as their important work with UMass is kicking off makes it an exciting time at Future In Sight, with much growth potential on the horizon.”
Future In Sight will be working with UMass Boston to prepare additional TVIs and O&Ms to serve NH children. The nonprofit will do this by contributing up to $4,000 per student based on availability of funding and need in the UMass Boston vision studies program, which is the only program of its kind in New England training TVIs and O&Ms. The $4,000 scholarships will be awarded with the expectation that the students will work for Future in Sight for two years upon graduation, if there are job openings available at the nonprofit.
“There is a growing need for TVIs and O&Ms, and this partnership will provide a new generation of teachers with the opportunity for free or nearly free access to the education required to serve the population of children who are blind or visually impaired,” said David Morgan, the president and CEO of Future In Sight. “We’re lucky to have Becky joining our team as this groundbreaking partnership commences, and I have full confidence she will bring this program to its full potential, filling a critical void in the availability of qualified teachers with vision expertise and children who are under identified or underserved.”
“We’re delighted to have this new funding source for our O&M and TVI students,” said Dr. Laura Bozeman, the director of the vision studies program. “The additional funding will complement the federal scholarship money that some of our students are eligible for, which will make it possible for some students to enter our program who might otherwise find it out of reach financially. That’s in keeping with our desire to attract a wider and more diverse range of applicants to our graduate school.”
In addition to their new partnership with UMass Boston, Future In Sight is embarking on research about the emerging and unmet needs of school-age children with vision loss. With the help of Berk, the organization will continue building on its work for the New Hampshire Department of Education, to develop guidelines for teaching children with vision loss, bring more technology to the classroom, and modernize teaching methods for children.
For more information about Future In Sight, please call 603-224-4039 or visit: www.futureinsight.org
About Future In Sight
Headquartered at the McGreal Sight Center in Concord, Future In Sight – formerly known as New Hampshire Association for the Blind – was founded in 1912 with the mission to advance the independence of persons who are blind and visually impaired. Over the last 106 years, the organization has grown to offer a complete range of specialized professional education and vision rehabilitation services that help babies, children, adults, and elders who have little to no vision to obtain access to a full range of services. Future In Sight is the only private, nonprofit provider of statewide, comprehensive direct vision rehabilitation and educational services throughout the state of New Hampshire for persons of all ages who are blind or visually impaired.
About UMass Boston’s Vision Studies Program
UMass Boston’s vision studies program is housed within the university’s School for Global Inclusion and Social Development. It is New England’s only academic center for preparing teachers of students with visual impairment, orientation and mobility specialists, and visual rehabilitation therapists. These are three key specialties that assist people with visual impairment to achieve their goals of high-quality education, fulfilling employment, and safe independent travel.
The vision studies program offers an M.Ed. as well as graduate certificates.
For more information about the program, please visit: umb.edu/visionstudies.