Photo of VSDB Superintendent Pat Trice

Superintendent’s Corner – September 2020

Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year!  Despite the pandemic, VSDB has had a smooth start to the new school year! Students arrived to campus for Registration Day on August 16th in preparation for the first day of school, Monday, August 17th.  VSDB opened providing five days a week in-person instruction in order to meet the needs of its diverse and complex population.  After months of the campus being quiet and empty, VSDB was alive again with students and employees!  Everyone was happy to be back and to have the opportunity to see friends and get back to the business of learning!

Many hours went into the planning and reopening of VSDB.  VSDB’s COVID-19 team worked diligently to address student, parent, employee, and community concerns, and to develop the VSDB Health and Instructional Mitigation Plans.  The plans were developed with every aspect in mind to support a safe, healthy learning and working environment to the greatest extent possible.  The team worked closely with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the local Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to ensure compliance with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines as well as those set forward by the VDOE and VDH.  The team examined all aspects of “a day in the life of a student” as well as “a day in the life of an employee” and established processes and procedures to support a safe return for everyone.  The VSDB Health and Instructional Mitigation Plans are a work in progress and are updated as needed given new information and guidance.  The Plans can be found on the homepage of the VSDB website.

VSDB looks forward to a great school year and is confident that with teamwork with parents, employees, and the community, that VSDB students will be served effectively during these challenging times.  Please review the VSDB website for more information regarding VSDB programs and services as well as the COVID-19 resources that are posted and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. Here is to a great 2020-2021 school year!



Pat Fahed Trice


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Extraordinary Awards for an Extraordinary Student

The Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB) congratulates one of its 2020 graduates, Taode Ogden, for his high academic achievements during his tenure at VSDB!  During Taode’s  last two years at VSDB, in addition to his classes at VSDB, he also attended the regional Governor’s School for part of the day, where he excelled in his studies. Taode earned three additional academic seals for his hard work:
  • The Board of Education Seal
  • The Board of Education’s Seal for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
  • The Board of Education’s Seal of Advanced Mathematics and Technology.  

Taode has been accepted and plans to attend the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in Rochester, New York.  Taode, best wishes and good luck!  VSDB is proud of YOU!

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Expanded Core Curriculum – Learning for Life!

Join us for a webinar –

Expanded Core Curriculum – Learning for Life!

for families of children with blindness or vision impairment, birth through elementary school

June 25, 2020, 4:00 – 5:15 pm

Register now at:

(you may have to cut and paste this into your browser)

Registration deadline is noon, June 22, 2020. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Join us as we explore the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC).  Learn how your family can start early in sharing concepts and skills from the ECC with your children throughout normal, daily activities!

Some of the areas uniquely affected by impaired vision and included in the ECC are:

  • Sensory Efficiency: Using all senses to access information in an efficient manner;
  • Orientation & Mobility: Navigating independently and safely by knowing one’s position relative to other people, objects and places;
  • Social Interaction: Learning how to behave in social situations without the benefit of non-verbal cues;
  • Recreation & Leisure: Participating in physical activity and learning how to plan for and incorporate social and leisure time in one’s schedule; and
  • Independent Living: Taking care of oneself as independently as possible.

Target Audience:  Parents of children with blindness or vision impairments and professionals.  The focus is on children from birth through elementary school, but all are welcome.

This webinar is sponsored by Education Services of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired and Outreach Services of the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind.

We hope you can join us!

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Working Toward Continuity of Learning: Children with Blindness or Visual Impairment

Join us for a webinar!

Resources for Educators Working Toward Continuity of Learning:

Children with Blindness or Visual Impairment

 April 16th, 2020

3:00 – 4:30

 hosted by the VI Consortium, GMU

PRESENTERS:        Wanda Council, Virginia Department of Education;

Kim Avila, VI Consortium, GMU;

Caren Phipps, Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired; and

Debbie Pfeiffer, VSDB Outreach Services

Please Register for this Webinar at:

(if needed, copy and paste in browser)

OBJECTIVES:         To share information and resources that may be useful during this extraordinary time when teachers are working from home and serving children and families who are in their homes.  1.5 hours of participation CEUs

TARGET AUDIENCE:  Educators and related service providers working with children, ages birth through grade 12, with blindness or visual impairment.

Registrants will receive an email confirmation on April 16 with connection information for joining the webinar.

 This Webinar is sponsored by the VI Consortium at GMU; the VA Department of Education, the VA Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, and VSDB Outreach Services.  Questions should be directed to Dr. Debbie Pfeiffer at

We hope you can join us! 

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Passing of VSDB’s Former Superintendent

It is with great sadness that we share of the passing of VSDB former Superintendent, Sheldon Melton (1978-1991). Superintendent Melton was instrumental in VSDB’s 175th Anniversary, assisting in the opening of the time capsule that had been buried in front of Main Hall. He spoke at that time of his goal of trying to get the students home more often and shared a story of putting a toy “ET” doll in the time capsule to represent his efforts for the students to “go home” more often.

Superintendent Melton was a leader who is remembered fondly by VSDB for his dedication and commitment to the students, families, staff, and to the mission of VSDB. Please see the link below for visitation and funeral information. The visitation will be this Sunday from 2-4:00pm at Henry Funeral Home and the funeral will be Monday at 1:00pm.…/Sheldon-Melton/Memories

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Life Beyond High School, Early Planning = Successful Transitioning

VSDB Outreach Services presents:

Life Beyond High School

Early Planning = Successful Transitioning

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.


Join us as representatives from the Virginia Division of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) provide an overview of services they can offer to students who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind.  DRS collaborates with high school students with disabilities, their families, schools and community service providers to support transition beginning at age 14.


  • After registering, you will receive an email confirmation with connection information for joining the webinar.


TARGET AUDIENCE:  Teachers, related service providers, job coaches, transition specialists and all currently or preparing to work with students who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or DeafBlind, and family members of students with hearing loss or dual sensory impairment.

CERTIFICATE OF ATTENDANCE:  Participants who complete the follow-up survey will receive a Certificate of Attendance for 1 hour.

PRESENTERS:   Mary Nunnally is the Statewide Program Manager for DRS’ Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services.  Mary is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and received her B.S.W. in Social Work and M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from the Virginia Commonwealth University, and completed the Virginia Collaborative Leaders Program through the Institute for Educational Leadership.

Traci Branch
is the Statewide Pre-Employment and Transition Counselor/Consultant for DRS’ Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services.  Traci is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and received her B. A. in Social Work from Gallaudet University, M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from the Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Graduate Certificate in Traumatic Brain Injury/Special Education from George Washington University.

Note:  You may also be aware of DRS being referred to as “DARS”, which is a division of the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.  DARS is a statewide agency that has various divisions, with its mission to improve the employment, quality of life, security, and independence of older Virginians, Virginians with disabilities, and their families.

This Webinar is sponsored by Outreach Services, Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in Staunton, through grant funding from the Virginia Department of Education.  Questions should be directed to Dr. Debbie Pfeiffer at

We hope you can join us!      Debbie

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Superintendent’s Corner

Welcome to the second semester of this school year and to the new year, 2020!

With the start of the new year, VSDB welcomed students and staff back to campus from the holiday break and the campus has been buzzing ever since!

The start of the 2019-2020 school year highlighted the 180th birthday of VSDB.  As the oldest school in the nation to serve both the Deaf and the Blind and as the second oldest school in the nation to serve the Deaf, VSDB is proud of its heritage and beautiful historic campus! This year, the campus has been busy with long awaited renovations of several of these treasured buildings.  The Infirmary will soon return to its home in the newly renovated Bradford Hall.  This historic mansion has been redesigned to better meet the needs of the students and the infirmary staff.  Everyone is excited for the grand rededication later this school year of one of VSDB’s iconic historical features.

In addition to renovations occurring in Bradford Hall, Battle Hall, one of the older residential halls, is also experiencing renovations.  Historic Battle Hall, is best remembered as one of the residential halls that served the Blind Department. It holds fond memories for many of the alumni and now will glisten with new flooring and other updated features.

As VSDB strives to increase awareness of its unique programs and services throughout the Commonwealth, marketing efforts continue with the development of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that will air close to the start of the 2020-2021 school year.  These PSAs will feature small video clips highlighting many of the wonderful programs and services offered at VSDB. at no cost to students, within Virginia, who are blind/vision impaired, deaf/hard of hearing, deafblind, or deaf or blind with other disabilities.  Information packets will be posted on the website or mailed to individuals upon request.

Aligned with the Governor’s Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP) initiatives, VSDB will be working with VDOE and other resources to support an enhanced preschool and kindergarten readiness program. VSDB’s Outreach program will be an integral part of this initiative.

The VSDB sports programs continues to provide students with opportunities to be a part of a team and to develop confidence and skills beyond expectations.  VSDB is proud to be a leader in the effort to develop a national Blind Soccer league.  The VSDB Blind Soccer team is one of two in the nation and has partnered with Maryland School for the Blind in an effort to expand the sport nationwide. Thanks to funding from the VSDB Foundation Board, the VSDB Blind Soccer team will have the equipment they need to take Blind Soccer to the next level!  Go VSDB!

VSDB Family Engagement Specialist, Julie Saum in collaboration with several other departments at VSDB, continue to bring families together in an effort to support students at VSDB. Family ASL classes, held on campus have grown in popularity and are expanding for this semester!  The first ever, ASL Family Dinner Night was recently held on campus and was a huge success! The goal of the event was to provide families an opportunity to practice what they have learned in the ASL classes in a safe ASL setting.  The evening started with a spaghetti dinner and included a family ASL workshop for all.  Approximately 75 people were in attendance!  Look for more Family Engagement activities in the future!

VSDB is proud of its unique programs and services that it offers.  VSDB is the place where students are not the only one, but one of many. As students of VSDB, they benefit from the expertise, accessibility, and the community that makes VSDB a leader in the field of education for those students who are deaf and/or blind.  This semester promises to be a busy one but one full of learning opportunities and successes!

As always, thank you for your support and interest in VSDB, where students DO….GROW…and BECOME the best they can be!


Pat Trice



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