SkyView Academy Staff Leap Hurdles to Help Student with Rare Eye Disease
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Posted by: Stacy Rader
When SkyView Academy (SVA) 1st grade teacher April Chism learned she would have Logan Johnson in her class this year, she knew she would do everything in her power to make sure Logan experienced great success in school. Logan was born with Aniridia, a rare genetic disorder that literally means “no iris”. Babies born with this disease have malformed irises along with other potential health issues like cataracts, glaucoma, increased eye pressure, low vision, optic nerve damage, and sometimes even malignant kidney tumors. Without pupils, Logan’s eyes don’t contract and classroom learning can be challenging when she can’t see important teaching tools like the SMART Board in the front of the room, even when sitting in the front row.
Logan has attended SVA since preschool, and every teacher along the way has advocated for her, making sure that her 20/70 and 20/150 (with glasses) vision never holds her back. For example, the font on Logan’s math pages has been enlarged so she can see the problems; Chism realized Logan couldn’t see certain colors on the SMART Board, so now she only uses high contrast white board marker colors she knows Logan can see. SVA Elementary principal, Jeri Bisbee, purchased a “slant board” specifically for Logan, as well as an iPad for her personal use to be able to take pictures of notes, and expand to her level of need. In addition, a closed circuit television (CCTV) was brought into the classroom to increase the size of the lessons in the hope that Logan’s eyes wouldn’t have to work so hard to complete the assignment. While these efforts were helpful, they were more like Band-Aids, and it was becoming clear that Logan needed better tools.
Chism realized while the CCTV helped to support Logan, its bulk and size made it challenging to transport when she changes classrooms for SVA’s ability grouping in reading and math and for specials classes like art and technology. While Logan kept her positive attitude, frustration was growing with the bulkiness of the device.
“This new technology that we have recently acquired for Logan has given her more freedom in the classroom not only with ease of work, but with other seating opportunities as well. I love seeing her be her best, and feeling like she stands out a little less,” Chism said. “Logan is an extremely smart and determined little girl. Despite the significant hurdles she faces, she never complains and never uses them as an excuse to not be successful. I will always do what’s best for all of my students, and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that Logan has what she needs to not only be successful this year, but happy as well. “
Chism stepped up her advocacy efforts with Douglas County School District and soon a Visiobook device arrived on Logan’s classroom desk, much to the little girl’s delight. This portable electronic magnifier and distance viewer seems to be the answer Chism and her SVA counterparts have been searching for since Logan entered preschool. Not only does it nicely fit on Logan’s desk, it is small enough she can take it with her as she changes classrooms. In addition, it has given her the freedom to engage her learning by sitting in other classroom locations besides the front row.
“Mrs. Chism, Ms. Bisbee, and the staff at SkyView have been absolutely amazing,” said Kacey Johnson, Logan’s mother. “They have continually advocated for Logan to allow her to be as successful as possible. She is in no way held back due to her vision, and gets to enjoy the classroom environment along with her classmates.”
“The Visiobook is so fun to use,” Logan said. “It helps me work faster and see things that I can’t see without it.”
While Logan continues her visits to the eye specialist every few months to monitor her disease, she and her family are so grateful for the extraordinary support she has received at SkyView Academy.
About SkyView Academy
Located in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, SkyView Academy is a tuition free* PK-12 public charter school offering a research-based, content-rich, liberal arts program with a commitment to foreign language studies, character education, and community service. Founded in 2010, SkyView serves 1,375 PK-12 students. Our PK-8th grade Core Knowledge scope and sequence partners well with our 9-12th grade Classical College Preparatory approach to help prepare students for college and life. Faculty, staff, parents, and students are actively involved in a culture of high expectation and support where individuals are respected, valued and known by the content of their character. In building life-long leaders and honorable learners, our approach fits the desires of our scholars, thespians and 3A Metro League athletes who all compete and prepare for rigorous challenges in our state-of-the-art facilities. For more information on SkyView Academy Charter School or how to enroll your child, please visit SkyView Academy’s website at http://skyviewacademy.org.
*SkyView Academy charges tuition for its full-day kindergarten and preschool programs.