Tara was nominated by her colleagues due to her innovation in virtual learning
By: Cara Martinez
Tara Hill, a Teacher of the Visually Impaired at the Foundation for Blind Children, originally planned to become a doctor. She majored in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at the University of Arizona. During her senior year, she added a minor in Special Education to meet credit requirements.
Surprisingly, Tara fell in love with the material. “I felt like I found my niche”, she says.
With her newfound passion for teaching students experiencing vision loss, Tara pursued a master’s in Visual Impairments. By a stroke of luck, she found FBC after receiving an email about job opportunities for students studying VI. Tara thought she would stick around for a few years but the connection she felt at FBC with peers and other professionals made her stay.
Eight years later, Tara is a certified teacher for students with visual impairments managing an impressive two classrooms with about twelve students ranging from preschool to elementary school.
In 2020, Tara helped both students and parents adapt to virtual learning. She did this by coaching parents on how to present information in a way their child would understand to achieve learning goals at home.
“It was a learning curve in the beginning,” says Tara. “A lot of it was helping the parent with what they can do at home to address a goal or even just giving them adult interaction.”
Not only does Tara support her students and parents, but she also crafts individualized and textured books, art, sensory activities, and therapy activities. Plus, she mails the items in a timely fashion to stay on track with her lesson plans. During the height of the pandemic, Tara even factored in time to quarantine the materials.
Tara adapts many FBC events including Fall Festival, Sharing Feast, Snow Day, and Valentine’s Dance to name a few. Tara brought these events to life on her students’ computer screens by mailing families sensory activities and goodie bags.
This hard work does not go unnoticed by the families she serves. “I could go on and on about the help and difference that Tara has done for our family during the last two years,” says Kirsten Meredith, a parent of one of Tara’s students. “It seemed nearly impossible that we would ever make it to the light at the end of the tunnel, but we did, and we thank Tara for her help and support in that”.
Tara’s colleagues are also often in awe of her work ethic. “Tara has taken on the incredibly challenging task of teaching fully virtual this year while everyone else is back in person”, says one peer. “She is an amazing teacher who makes sure her students get to participate in all experiences just like they would get to in-person”, says another. Because of this, Tara was awarded FBC’s Employee of the Year, a greatly appreciated recognition after feeling isolated while teaching virtually.
Tara is a leader at FBC and beyond. Your support allows FBC to seek out the best educators, like Tara, to serve our blind and visually impaired students. Thank you.