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by Joyce Hildreth

Sharon ScurryMost of you may know Sharon Scurry and have had the opportunity to work with her, but for those who haven’t been privileged to meet or work with her, I encourage you to read on.

Sharon has been employed with DBS for more than 30 years, and during this time, she has served as the administrative assistant for six Division directors of which four were blind requiring unique support.

Years ago when Sharon worked with one of the previous directors, she would head to the director’s office with the morning mail and read each item to the director. This of course was before the time of technology and computers.

Although we have technology today, trust remains a critical element in my working relationship with Sharon. I rely heavily on her to check everything that is submitted for my signature, review documents for edits, prepare documents in an accessible format, point me in the right direction and ensure that I arrive at the right place. She has never let me down. Sharon always steps up to the plate whenever she sees a job that needs to be accomplished regardless of what part of the Division is in need. Sharon is the epitome of an employee deserving recognition, and for that, I thank you.

Personnel Actions

McCarron Named Division Deputy Director

Ellen McCarronCongratulations to Ellen McCarron who was named our Division Deputy Director. Her diverse job responsibilities will include oversight of the Division’s contracts and procurement processes, project management, coordination of audit responses, assisting with the Division’s Strategic Plan, and assisting the Director and Senior Management Team with priority issues and projects.  She will also communicate with contractors throughout the contracting process.  Prior to her promotion, she came to DBS in 2010 as a Senior Management Analyst II. Ellen’s previous experience includes five years as an assistant director, and 10 years of experience as an administrator and program manager with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), where she was honored as the DEP Employee of the Year in 1999.  She earned a B.S. in Biology from Florida State University and completed post graduate work at Georgetown University Medical School and Clark University.  Additionally, Ellen has published numerous professional publications.  Congratulations Ellen!

Congratulations to Al Peterson who was promoted to Library Services Supervisor at the Daytona Library.

We also want to welcome our newest employees:

Commissioner Smith Honored by Senate

Commissioner SmithThe Florida Senate honored Commissioner of Education, Dr. Eric Smith, for his visionary leadership in the field of education during the Legislative Session on May 5.  Dr. Smith began his career in the classroom, teaching in Orange County, and held several administrative positions in various Florida school districts before becoming district superintendent in Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland.  In 2007, he was named Florida Commissioner of Education and shared his goals of increasing the academic achievement of all students and reducing the disparity in achievement among student subgroups. He remains committed to these goals and imparted this vision within the Department’s Next Generation Strategic Plan, a visionary blueprint that focuses on strategic targets and benchmarks in order to assist students in achieving success in the 21st century. We will miss Commissioner Smith, who departs from his post on June 10th.

Hildreth appointed to State Advisory Committee

by JoAnn Carrin

Joyce HildrethOn May 20, Commissioner Smith appointed Joyce Hildreth, Director, Division of Blind Services, to the State Advisory Committee for the Education of Exceptional Students. Hildreth will represent other state agencies serving students with disabilities and individuals with disabilities.  The State Advisory Committee is responsible for providing policy guidance with respect to exceptional education and related services for as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004).

Hildreth’s responsibilities relating to the education of students with disabilities include advising the Department of Education about the unmet needs of students, policy on proposed regulations, corrective action plans and coordination of services to students.  Hildreth was appointed due to her knowledge, experience, and dedication to improve education programs for all Florida’s students.

LC Industries Opens New Plant

by Alice Radford, Administrative Secretary, Daytona Beach

LC Industries, the largest employer of people who are blind in the United States, is opening a manufacturing plant this June in Daytona Beach.  This 74-year-old company will provide career and advancement opportunities for a wide array of our client base.  LC Industries will offer full-time openings for approximately 20 to 25 individuals in manufacturing (sewing) tactile equipment and warehouse positions.  Motivated, reliable, and dependable applicants are chosen because they have a willingness to learn, and because they have good manual dexterity skills. The starting wage is $7.25 per hour with benefits. 

The company has worked well in the past with DBS and wishes to continue this relationship.  The new manufacturing plant is the result of an ongoing partnership between LC Industries, and Will Ryan, who serves as the Statewide Employment Development Coordinator. Visit for more information. 

DBS Client Receives BS Degree with Honors

by Staff at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind

Jermesa LeeThree years ago, 19-year-old Jermesa Lee attended the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind in Daytona Beach to gain independent living skills and to prepare for college.  While Lee attended Bethune-Cookman University, Center staff worked closely with DBS counselors and counselors/professors at the University to ensure Lee had support to compete with sighted peers.  Additionally, Lee performed volunteer work and interned at the Center. 

On May 5, 2011, Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. Degree in Psychology. She received a standing ovation from family and friends as she walked across the stage to receive her degree. This fall, she will begin a Master’s Degree Program at the University of South Florida in Tampa. We wish Lee well as she moves to the next level in her academic studies. 

Rehab Center employee and former client earns BS Degree

Peter Cerullo came to Daytona Beach looking to adapt to his new lifestyle as a blind person.  While attending the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, he learned Daytona State College had something to offer to enhance his new way of life.

Peter once had a successful business career that included running his own restaurant in New Jersey, but those were the days when he was able to see. He then sought a way to regain his independent lifestyle.

“Daytona State College gave me that opportunity,” he said.  Peter earned an associate of arts degree and Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management.

Today, Peter works as a night supervisor for the Rehab Center and as a residential instructor. He wants to work as an advocate for the blind by helping others find successful employment. He is a shining example for anyone with extraordinary challenges. 

It Truly Takes a Village to Raise a Child

by Christina Panczak-Smith, Sr. Rehabilitation Specialist, West Palm Beach

Panczak-Smith FamilyAt five months old I was diagnosed with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, a condition where the optic nerve does not develop properly.  Even though I am the first born in my family, my parents decided to raise me as any other child and would not allow me to let my visual disability hinder me from reaching my goals.  My family and the Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) have truly provided the support and tools I need to be successful. 

Growing up I played sports with my brothers, rode my bike and engaged in all the activities kids enjoy including water and snow skiing. I did not get excused from chores or school work. As an adult, I have added marathon running and sky-diving to my active lifestyle.

I graduated from William T. Dwyer High School, went to Palm Beach Community College to earn my A.A. in Psychology, and then my B.S. in Social Psychology and M.S. in Counselor Education with a specialization in Rehabilitation Counseling, both from Florida Atlantic University. 

DBS played a major role in my success by guiding me through my childhood, teenage years, and college.  As a DBS employee, I now have the honor to give back by giving to others.

My educational and professional success has led to personal success.  My husband, Scott, and I have been married for seven years and we have a three-year-old son, Collin.  Collin already understands his mom and dad’s eyes are “broken,” and we do things differently.  We enjoy family activities like going to the pool and the park. We recently made a family trip to SeaWorld without the aid of any other family or friends.  I would be remiss if I did not mention the other family “member” Joanie, my seeing eye dog. Sadly, she died in February, but her loving memory and her spirit are with us always.

I truly believe it takes a village to raise a child.  I’m fortunate that I live near my family who are a major part of my life. I would not be where I am today without their love and support.  The support of my husband and DBS has been vital. 

A Day in the Life of the Circulation Section

by Susan Roberts, Bureau Chief, Daytona Beach

Mail room worker at libraryThe Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library’s Circulation section typically begins each day at 7:30 a.m. In the early morning, mail room staff members unload the post office semi-trailer and sort the incoming mail. Large hampers are filled with thousands of returned books/magazines and are then moved to the east annex for additional sorting. The books are inspected, the address cards scanned, and then shelved appropriately.

In addition to books and magazines that come in, returned cassette and digital players are unpacked, checked in, repaired, and reconditioned.

While books and cassettes are being processed, staff and volunteers also begin pulling outgoing books (usually 3,000 to 4,000) for the day’s run. The outgoing books, along with cassette players and new digital players, are moved to the mail room and loaded onto the post office trailer. Staff members also distribute accessories such as headphones, pillow speakers, extension levers, USB connectors and headphone adapters to assist customers with their reading experience. All of this work is accomplished on a daily basis by staff and volunteers working together in the Circulation Section.

Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Keith Flowers and guide dog EagleOn April 28th, the Department of Education, Turlington Building, was full of children who were eager to learn what their parents do on a daily basis.  DBS staff met with groups of elementary and middle school students.

“The children were very enthusiastic and asked lots of questions,” said Jamie Smith, the moderator.  Jamie introduced herself and her coworkers Ashley Evans (a totally blind white cane user) and Keith Flowers (a guide dog user) along with his guide dog Eagle.  The third through eighth graders learned to lead a blind person using the sighted guide technique where a blind person holds the elbow of a sighted person and walks next to them.  Keith also shared his experiences of living with his dog, Eagle, and demonstrated how they work together.

“It was a pleasure to talk to the kids about what it’s like being visually impaired. They always have a million questions, especially about Eagle,” said Keith.  “It’s good that they are learning about these important issues while they are young.”

Next year is the 20th anniversary of the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day program. This event is typically honored on the fourth Thursday of April each year.  To learn more, visit

Assistive Technology Training and Me

by Pat Marshall, Rehabilitation Supervisor, District 4 Office

With trepidation, I entered the classroom at Manderfield Technical Training Laboratory in Daytona Beach in March. The receptionist smiled and said, “You must be Pat,” I thought, ‘Oh geez--did they start early and I didn’t get the memo?’ Thankfully, that was not the case.  We had a diverse group in our Level 1 Assistive Technology training that included counselors and customer service specialists from St. Petersburg, Daytona, and Tallahassee.  Finally, in walked the big guy, Michael Elliott, followed by Kati Lear. We were on our way to everything you always wanted to know about JAWS and ZoomText.

It started slowly as everyone was trying to get a handle on the group dynamic.  Michael was slightly nervous being in his first DBS training group.  Counselor Everton Lewis brought knowledge of New York-Jamaican culture. Tiffany Wilson brought along her own personal future Olympian.  We found our rhythm somewhere around day two, and it was all good.  Lots of laughs came along with loads of new data. 

We were lucky to experience the atmosphere of the Daytona campus, tour the Conklin Center, walk the Talking Book library, and visit the District 5 office. Thanks to Mark Steinman for his patience and insight.  A bonus was the opportunity to meet coworkers from around the state.  I sincerely appreciate that the agency invests in training staff.  This is both commendable and rare.

Community Safety

by Ana Saint-Fort, District Administrator, Tallahassee

On May 24, the Tallahassee District staff attended an in-service training on personal and community safety. The training was hosted by the Tallahassee Police Department and included basic personal defense and common “street sense.” The training highlighted three elements that can cause crime to take place:  desire, ability, and opportunity.  The training also informed staff that one must be aware of their surroundings, and recommended having a plan and going with one’s instincts.  Other safety tips shared included being vigilant when getting on buses and getting into vehicles.  The staff appreciated the insightful and informative training session.

Rehabilitation Center Recognized

by Ed Hudson. Bureau Chief, Daytona Beach

Rehab Center DormThe new dormitory at the Rehabilitation Center in Daytona has been certified as “Gold” by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).  The LEED is an internationally-recognized green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.  The certification exemplifies the design and construction of an energy efficient and sustainable facility which will yield the owner dividends over the life of the facility.  The rating system is used to distinguish the sustainability of one building when compared to another.  In other words, it provides for buildings the same measuring stick that gas mileage standards give to cars.  The partnership DBS developed with KBJ Architects and Wharton-Smith Inc., Construction Company led to this recognition. 

Sustainable Florida Awards

by Linda Clark, Senior Rehabilitation Specialist, Fort Lauderdale

The 2011 Sustainable Florida's Best Practice Awards Program will be held June 2 in Daytona Beach.  The competition is incredible and the judges usually have a tough time determining the best.  DBS client Michael Madfis, manager of Fort Lauderdale Vegetables is a finalist in the categories Leadership and Small Business.  Fort Lauderdale Vegetables is an urban farming business enterprise.  Michael is an architect and has extensive experience working in the field of architecture and urban planning.  He is also vice president of the South Florida chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. 

The Sustainable Florida Program is sponsored by the Collins Center for Public Policy.  The Program is the premier alliance of organizations and leaders committed to promoting sustainable development principles through collaboration and education seeking to balance economic interests with the need to be socially and environmentally responsible.  Visit for more information.

Website Offers Self-Help Resources

Information from VisionAWARE website

Vision Aware LogoVisionAWARE is a self-help, online resource center for individuals with vision loss.  The website provides free, practical, hands-on information to increase independence and enhance quality of life for the visually impaired, as well as information for families, friends and related professionals.

The mission of VisionAWARE is to provide information, resources, and education that can increase independence and enhance quality of life for individuals with vision loss. VisionAWARE is also committed to increasing the visibility of organizations and resources that address the unmet needs of people who are blind, visually impaired, or have low vision.  Visit for more information.

News from the National Federation of the Blind

Information from NFB Website

NFB LogoNational Convention:  Each year, the National Federation of the Blind holds its national convention, one of the largest disability conferences of its kind that boasts more than 3,000 blind people from across the United States attending.  This year's convention will be held July 3-8, in Orlando, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel.  Make your room reservation now by calling (866) 996-6338.  Pre-registration is now open, so visit to register for the convention and secure your spot at the banquet! Be sure to view the agenda (Word Document Format) for the full schedule of this year's events and activities!

2011 Scholarship Program Winners:  On May 13, the NFB announced the winners of its 2011 Scholarship Program, which awards 30 scholarships to recognize achievements made by blind scholars.  In July, each winner will attend the NFB’s 71st annual national convention where the scholarship committee will spend several days getting to know each student and then deciding which scholarship (ranging in value from $3,000 to $12,000) to award each of them.  The scholarship winners will then be announced at the banquet of the NFB convention on Friday, July 8.  For more information on the National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Program, visit 

End Zone

We hope you found this month’s newsletter interesting.  Remember, we need your submissions each month.  Let us know what’s going on in your district or facility.  The publication date for the Inside DBS newsletter is the first of each month.  The deadline for submissions is the 24th of each month.  Comments, suggestions, and submissions should be directed to:

Ashley Evans
Phone:  850-245-0310

Additional useful links and telephone numbers:

To request a Braille version of this edition of Inside DBS may contact the Braille and Talking Book Library at or call 800-226-6075.

MIS Help Desk:
Phone:  850-245-0360

AWARE Help Desk:
Phone:  850-245-0395 or 1-866-841-0912

DBS Division of Blind Services (external):

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