Santa Claus is Coming to Town

See the Play at Barter Theatre, Abingdon Virginia

Saturday, December 1, 2018
9:00 am – 2:30 pm

A theater event for students grade 1 through 12, co-hosted by Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, Virginia Hands & Voices,  Virginia Association of Parents of Students with Visual Impairments, and VSDB Outreach Services

Who can participate:  Students grades 1 through 12 who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired from any school in Virginia. Students must be accompanied by at least one parent from 9:00 am through 2:30 pm and are welcome to bring up to three family members (for a maximum of four people total attending per family). Limit: 45 people.

About the event:     View the play, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with pre- and post-show sessions, and meet students from other school divisions who are also blind/vi or deaf/hh. Special features:

  • Audio description provided by Access Virginia and nationally certified interpreters will make the play accessible to all
  • Students will have the opportunity to explore the stage before the play, and ask actors questions after
  • Interactive, educational session with Project REAL educators utilizing theatre techniques to integrate the student’s life experiences with career awareness.  (Project Real is provided under a contract with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2017-2018)


Cost: Event and lunch provided free for all registrants confirmed to attend.

Where:     Barter Theatre, Gilliam Stage, 127 West Main St, Abingdon, VA   24210 (free parking behind Stage II)

How to Register: Complete registration form at: (click on the link, or you may need to cut and paste this into your browser line).

Deadline: Nov. 19, 2018.  Attendance is limited to the first 45 family members registered.  Registration does not guarantee attendance; emails will be sent letting you know if you are confirmed or on wait list.

For more information: Please contact Dr. Debbie Pfeiffer, Director of Outreach Services at  or (540) 414-5249.   More specific details will be sent to registrants as the date of the event approaches. We hope to see you there!


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VSDB Receives $76,240 for Urban Farm Program

Sign that reads "Welcome to the VSDB Educational Urban Farm"

The Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB) was one of two Virginia recipients to receive the USDA Farm-to-School Expansion Grant to fund an expansion of the VSDB Educational Urban Farm Program.

The USDA Farm-to-School grants provide funding to increase the amount of local foods served to students and develop capacity for schools and farms to participate in Farm-to-School programs. The money will also go toward teaching students about food sources, healthy choices, and agriculture through garden and classroom education.

Katrina Beitz, the VSDB Educational Urban Farm Manager expressed her enthusiasm stating, “It’s very exciting, like a dream come true because we’ve been given this money to start all these new projects, and improve this already amazing space that we have.”

Among the activities planned through the grant, VSDB will create a paved handicapped accessible section of the garden for its students who utilize wheelchairs, purchase irrigation supplies, and establish an apiary with two beehives.

The VSDB Educational Urban Farm will also invite community participation through workshops, Work-on-the-Farm days and other activities that promote a healthy lifestyle.

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VSDB among 2018 Farm to School Grant Recipients

Announcement from the USDA Office of Community Food Systems

The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced $5.2 million in grants that will support local food in child nutrition programs in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam:

“The Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) congratulates all of the 2018 Farm to School Grant recipients! USDA’s Farm to School Grants fund school districts, State and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers, and non-profit organizations in their efforts to increase local foods served through child nutrition programs, teach children about food and agriculture through garden and classroom education, and develop schools’ and farmers’ capacities to participate in farm to school.”

At VSDB, the grant will expand programs and facilities in order to develop students’ ability to make connections between the natural world, their community, and themselves. As stated in the OCFS grant announcement, VSDB program goals are “to (1) increase student access to local foods, (2) advance educational opportunities, and (3) improve classroom concepts through agricultural innovation. Staff will accomplish this goal through their 3-acre education farm which includes, one acre of production, a riparian buffer, a raised bed garden, a small greenhouse/workspace, a sensory garden, and a youth garden business.”

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Mobile Dairy Classroom Visits VSDB

Mobile Dairy Classroom truck with cow in truck and woman making presentation, and students sitting on ground in attendance.

The Mobile Dairy Classroom visited VSDB on May 2nd.  Students learned about all of the nutritional benefits of milk and how milk gets from a cow to their tummies.  Students asked a lot of great questions and got to see a milking machine in action with special guest Ellie Mae.  A big thank you goes out to VSDB’s Food Service Manager, Cindy Payne, for bringing this neat and educational experience.

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Kudos, VSDB Track Team!

Six VSDB students with track medals

Six VSDB students win medals

Congratulations to the VSDB track team for successful wins in the  Eastern Athletic Association for the Blind (EAAB)  tournament at Maryland School for the Blind this weekend!

Both the girls’ and boys’ teams placed 4th in the overall team totals. Each VSDB athlete contributed to the winning performances by placing in one of their events, resulting in 18 medals among the six students.

In addition, all athletes improved their overall scores compared to last year’s performance. Congratulations to the team and coaches for their dedication, hard work, and winning efforts! 

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New Team Members in Urban Farm Partnership

VSDB Welcomes New Faces from Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI)

For their year of Phase II service work, AMI Fellows Sophia Hutnik and Stephen Rodriguez are working as Farm and Education Assistants at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind’s Urban Farm. During this time, they are helping to grow food for the VSDB cafeteria and to provide garden education for VSDB students. AMI is an educational non-profit organization with the mission to cultivate healthy communities through food and education based in Staunton, VA.

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Amazement Square Children’s Museum

VA Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired and VSDB Outreach Services invite you to join us for a memorable learning experience at

Amazement Square Children’s Museum

Saturday, May 12, 2018, 10:00 – 3:00

Amazement Square has four floors and 9 galleries of hands-on, interactive, multidisciplinary exhibits. The museum’s exhibits and educational programs encourage all participants to explore the arts and humanities, culture, science, technology, and their interconnected relationships.

What? Students will meet with staff members of Amazement Square, DBVI, and VSDB Outreach Services for an educational art activity, then joined by other family members for a guided tour of the facility, lunch, and hands-on exploration!  (See  )

Who is invited?  Virginia students ages 8 – 18 who are deaf or hard of hearing, or with visual impairment, blindness, or deaf-blindness.  Each student may bring one sibling age 8-18 to participate in the initial art activity. Parent(s) are asked to then join us for a guided tour, lunch, and hands-on exploration of the museum!

The deadline for registration is May 7, 2018.  This activity is limited to the first 40 individuals registered (student plus family members). If accommodations other than interpreters are needed, please register as soon as possible to help ensure access.

We hope to see you there!

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VSDB Alumna Breaking Down Barriers

Posted by PAT TRICE on MARCH 20, 2018

Sierra Campbell went to the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. From there, she attended Gallaudet University. She is working two jobs to save up enough money to attend VCU where she wants to study to be a social worker to help the deaf.

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