Positive Attitude No.1

T.E.A.M has been an acronym bandied so long the cliché could probably collect Social Security checks. While that is the motto for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind football program, second-year head coach Christian DeNight has a different definition.

DeNight wants the Dragons to be Tough-minded; Earn it on the field; have Attitudes that are positive and More of the above. “If we become great in that, we will be a good team,” DeNight said. “A positive attitude has to be first. It’s not about size … it’s about the kind of heart and will to develop talent.”

What’s next for the Dragons is confidence they can break their 10-game losing streak. The Dragons scored 40 points in eight games in 2016. With a new offense and a number of returnees who will play on both sides of the ball, the expectation is that winning football will return to Usina Field.

“I think compared to last year and this year, we have a lot of returning players with offensive and defensive experience,” DeNight said. “Last year, we only had one experienced player offensively and defensively.”

On the first day of practice, there were more than 20 Dragons in white helmets working on assignments in the pistol offense. That didn’t include senior running back Ernest Bristol, who will be entering his third year on varsity, and likely play key downs on both sides of the ball.

“It’s a lot more balanced and we’re used to a lot of the rushing game,” said senior quarterback DeanJames D’Angelo. “Now, we have more of a balanced offense and it’s a good one.” D’Angelo fractured his right wrist in October 2015. The initial thought was he would not need surgery, but that plan changed last summer and he went under the knife. He missed the entire 2016 season.

The Dragons were winless last year but lost to Model Secondary 16-14 in September and narrowly lost to the Silent Warriors from the Alabama School for the Deaf 6-0 in October after hardly practicing for weeks due to the havoc Hurricane Matthew caused in terms of logistics and field conditions. As disappointing as the season was, a competitive spring game against Gainesville St. Francis infused belief into the team. The Dragons didn’t win, but a one-point halftime deficit against a fellow North Florida Football Conference opponent was evidence they were turning the corner.

“As players, they didn’t like losing and we talked about that,” DeNight said. “We have to work harder. … It’s time to reach those high expectations. We are competing with other teams and we want to reach that challenge. Last spring, they got it. … We’re going to do a lot better. The goal is to continue to improve. The goal is to win.”

It will certainly help to have nearly a half-dozen returning starters who expect to play on both sides of the football. Liam Von Mahr may be an undersized interior lineman, but the senior from Tampa is a member of the FSDB wrestling team and knows how to leverage what size he has. Right guard Wallace Burrell doesn’t have that issue. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, the senior from West Palm Beach is not only the biggest person on the team, he may have the largest personality as well.

Switching from the veer to the pistol means the Dragons will not be reliant on the running game and not up the creek — or in their case the Tolomato River — without a paddle. “If they win, they will be confident,” DeNight said. “That will raise the bar, the ‘M’ means more, more, more. Against St. France at halftime it was 14-13. You saw the fire in their eyes. We lost the opportunity, but the kids really got it.”

Strength: Coach Christian DeNight said special teams will be an area his team can bring its aggressiveness and improved tackling to the forefront. The coach added senior Samy Vital is someone who can make explosive plays in the return game.

Area to Improve: The Dragons were outscored 281-40 last year and DeNight said a key to turning around their 10-game losing streak is an improved attitude, coming from a belief in their mental and physical capabilities.

Key Returnees: Sophomore Tayshaun Smith plays defensive end and has dabbled at center for the Dragons in fall camp. Senior Liam Von Mahr is penciled in to play right guard and nose tackle. Wallace Burrell is in line to be the right tackle. Meanwhile, Ernest Bristol and Vital are two who primarily played in the backfield last year who will likely play offense, defense and special teams.

Promising Newcomer: Doug Meehan is a senior wide receiver and tight end who will also see time at linebacker. His twin, Darren, is also a new addition.

Conference Outlook: The Florida High School Athletic Association’s new playoff format will have little bearing on the Dragons, as they elected to remain independent and ineligible for the postseason. FSDB remains a member of the North Florida Football Conference. The Dragons’ first game of the season, against Gainesville Oak Hall, will likely be their sternest test. If they can fly with the Eagles, the second year of the DeNight era will be more competitive than the first.

2017 Schedule
Aug. 28 at Gainesville Oak Hall*
Aug. 31 vs. Daytona Beach Halifax
Sept. 14 vs. Merritt Island Christian
Sept. 21 at St. Johns Country Day*
Oct. 5 at Harvest Community School
Oct. 12 vs. Gainesville St. Francis*
Oct. 21 vs. Alabama School for the Deaf
Oct. 26 at St. Joseph*
Nov. 2 TBA

2016 Results | Record:
Aug. 25 vs. Gainesville Oak Hall L 56-0*
Sept. 10 vs. Model Secondary School for the Deaf L 16-14
Sept. 15 at Somerset Academy L 27-0
Sept. 22 vs. St. Johns Country Day L 27-8*
Oct. 3 vs. Daytona Beach Halifax Academy L 40-12
Oct. 22 at Alabama School for the Deaf L 6-0
Oct. 27 vs. St. Joseph L 47-6*
Nov. 4 vs. Maryland School for the Deaf L 62-0

Read original St. Augustine Record story by Will Brown (August  28, 2017). 

About FSDB
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) is a fully accredited state public school and outreach center available tuition-free to eligible Pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired students. Comprehensive educational services at FSDB are individualized, specific to the unique communication and accessibility needs of each student for independence and lifelong success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.

 

Greetings from the FSDB President

Welcome back!  This summer is coming to a close and we at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) are all busy preparing to welcome new and returning students and their families for the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

View ASL Translation of Greetings from the FSDB President.

The Deaf Department underwent a number of forward-looking policy and program enhancements during the 2016-17 school year which will continue in the 2017-2018 school year, including:

  • Instructional Focus – Recently updated policy clarifies that our priority is for deaf and hard of hearing students to be linguistically competent in both American Sign Language and English, regarded as separate and equal in importance. Classroom instruction is based on the individualized needs of students and their Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs).
  • Shortened Timelines and Expectations for Staff Fluency – Recently updated ASL policy now expects all newly hired instructional/academic staff members who work directly with deaf and hard of hearing students to achieve the required skill level standard for their position within one year of employment. We continue to monitor closely the skill standards associated with current staff members/positions. Their skill levels are evaluated using the Sign Language Proficiency Interview: ASL.
  • ASL Skill Standards – As of the 2016-17 school year, a majority of instructional/academic staff members who work with deaf and hard of hearing students (137 or 90%) have met or exceeded the ASL skill standards required for their specific positions, e.g., Intermediate Plus, Advanced, Advanced Plus to Superior Plus. They are encouraged to continue to improve their skills. Of this number, 14 (10%) are expected to reach their skill standard within one year’s time.
  • Expectation to Sign at All Times – We continue to stress the importance of open and accessible communication, to maximize access by and respect for deaf and hard of hearing students, staff, parents, and campus visitors.
  • Hire of ASL-English Specialists – Two deaf staff members with specialized experience were added to work closely with and provide support to instructional/academic personnel and students.
  • Professional Development – Instructional and academic personnel receive ongoing inservice training on effective use of ASL and English in the classroom. This training is supplemented by the provision of focused training videos developed by the ASL-English Specialists.
  • ASL Program Expansion – We have increased and will continue to increase the number of teachers and ASL classes available to staff members. Community ASL classes are also offered.

The Blind Department also underwent program enhancements during the 2016-17 school year which will continue in the 2017-2018 school year, including:

  • Blind K-8 School – The Blind Elementary and Middle Schools merged to improve program efficiency and service delivery.
  • Assistive Technology Focus – Two assistive technology instructors were added to work with students and academic staff in the Blind Elementary/Middle School.
  • STEM Focus – A new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) class focusing on coding and robotics is now available for Blind Department students who excel in math and science. Intensive math classes are also being offered.
  • Braille Specialists – The role and responsibilities for the Blind Department’s three Braille Specialists now include targeted instruction and interventional support for specific grade level teams.
  • New Unified English Braille (UEB) Code – Blind Department instructional/academic staff members are required to take a specialized UEB course based on the newly enhanced and adopted braille code that will be used worldwide in English-speaking countries, in order to teach both the code and all associated content matter to their students who read in braille. The course can take up to one year for completion. Course completers must successfully produce materials in the new code to demonstrate competency and pass requirements for certification.
  • Music Program Enhancements – New classes have been added in band, guitar, music theory, and music engineering. A volunteer braille transcriber now works with the Music Director to assist with braille music production.
  • Braille Transcribers – Volunteers who are also certified braille transcribers are continuously added; this allows for increased Braille Production Center capacity. Heavy-duty braille and tactile graphic embossing equipment at the Center also generates various forms of tactile graphics for classroom use.

These are just a few of the many areas on which we are working with students, staff, families, alumni, donors, and the community to ensure that every student succeeds and is included at FSDB!

Again, welcome back!

Dr. Jeanne Glidden Prickett
President


About FSDB

The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) is a fully accredited state public school and outreach center available tuition-free to eligible Pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired students. Comprehensive educational services at FSDB are individualized, specific to the unique communication and accessibility needs of each student for independence and lifelong success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.

Deaf Elementary FCAT Pep Rally Video

Over the next two weeks, students from the third to twelfth grades at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) will be taking The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). In preparation for the testing, third, fourth and fifth grade students and teachers in the Deaf Elementary School, produced, shot and edited a video to encourage students for the upcoming assessments in mathematics, reading, and science. Good luck to all the students taking the FCAT!

Watch the Deaf Elementary FCAT Pep Rally Video:

About FSDB
Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) is a fully accredited state public school and outreach center available tuition-free to eligible pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired students. Comprehensive educational services at FSDB are individualized, specific to the unique communication and accessibility needs of each student for independence and lifelong success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.

ASL, O&M and First Aid Classes for FSDB Parents

The FSDB Parent Services program is offering three different classes for parents and caregivers – an American Sign Language class (several sessions), an Orientation & Mobility Class, and a First Aid & CPR Certification class.

American Sign Language classes will be held at 3:05-4:05 pm on April 4, 11, 18, 25 and May 2, 9, 16, 2014 in Moore Hall. Learn ASL and practice with other parents.

The FSDB Parent Services program is offering an Orientation & Mobility class for parents and caregivers at 4:00-5:30 pm on April 3, 2014 in Moore Hall. Learn what it is like to walk in your child’s shoes by wearing vision loss simulation goggles as you tour the school campus.

FSDB parents and primary caregivers are also invited to attend a First Aid & CPR Certification class at 9:00-11:30 am on April 4, 2014 in Moore Hall. Learn life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillator (AED) and first aid skills.

RSVPs are strongly encouraged, as space is limited. Travel reimbursement is available for registered parents from outside St. Johns county. For more information, contact Misty Porter, 904.827.2988 or 904.201.4527 VP.

Contributed by Misty Porter, Parent Services Program

About FSDB
Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) is a fully accredited state public school and outreach center available tuition-free to eligible pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired students. Comprehensive educational services at FSDB are individualized, specific to the unique communication and accessibility needs of each student for independence and lifelong success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.

2014 FSDB Summer Programs Announced

The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) will offer three camp programs for eligible students for the summer of 2014. Camps include Summer Quest (June 15-20), Summer Explorers Camp (June 22-27), and Summer Day Camp (June 16-27). The programs are free of cost to Florida residents, who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired.

For more information about the different camps and eligibility requirements, visit the Summer Programs webpage.

Application deadline is Monday, June 9, 2014

FSDB Summer Camper zip-lining at the Alligator Farm.   FSDB Campers in front of kayak wearing life jackets and holding oars   FSDB Campers riding on conference bike

About FSDB
Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) is a fully accredited state public school and outreach center available tuition-free to eligible pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired students. Comprehensive educational services at FSDB are individualized, specific to the unique communication and accessibility needs of each student for independence and lifelong success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.