The Grousbeck Center for Students & Technology at Perkins School for the Blind is a unique space for students to explore media and tech, or relax and hang out. HuyenTran Vo coordinates a variety of activities and classes at the Student Technology Center that bring students across different programs together. In this “What I do” blog, she shares why her job brings a smile to her face each day. This story was compiled and edited by Karen Shih.
Every day is different. That’s the one thing I really enjoy about my job. I started in this position in February, after being an itinerant teacher of the visually impaired in Community Programs for more than three years. I traveled across the whole state of Massachusetts to do assessments and teach assistive technology.
During school hours, we have classes like radio, media and music technology. There are different levels for students in the Lower School, Secondary Program and Deafblind Program. Students work on problem-solving, patience and collaboration as they use assistive technology to record and edit music or produce shows for Radio Perkins.
In the afternoons after school, we have Deafblind Hangout, where they do a group activity like stories or crafts. We also have the Lower School extended day program and Secondary Program early release days, when teachers do professional development.
Every night we have activities too, from 6:30-8. On Mondays, we do karaoke; Tuesdays, we have Makers Club to design, build and think about solutions; Wednesdays, Deafblind Hangout; and Thursdays, Family Game Night. For Makers Club, most recently we got together with a local robotics team to build prosthetic hands to be donated to people in need. Game night is new. We did “The Voice” the other night. Kids would hit switches and we’d spin them around in chairs and they’d give compliments to whoever was singing.
Assistive technology still plays a big role in what I do. I recently became the first person in Massachusetts to be certified as an assistive technology specialist by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals – that’s our national board. I previously worked for a school district in Virginia that didn’t provide a lot of technology, so when I got to Perkins this was like a dream come true. I can actually get my hands on the latest tech. I just got four new iPads, which students use during class to pull up different sounds for the radio, play accessible games or just listen to YouTube during leisure time.
My ultimate goal is to make the Grousbeck Center a real student center. Right now, people think of it as a meeting space. Since I started, we’ve been able to get more students from all programs into activities, and I want even more. In the beginning, I felt our activities weren’t accessible to all our students, so I’ve been working on that, and I’ve been inviting everybody on campus – as well as our Community Programs students – to participate.
I love my job. At night, I’m always leaving with a big smile on my face. It’s nice to see the students enjoying it and the staff as well. They’re getting a chance to de-stress. I want everyone to come and use the student center. Whatever the students want or whatever the staff thinks will be cool, I want to be able to get for them and incorporate their ideas.