What Does The Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children Do?
Founded in 1887, WPSBC now serves 33 counties in Western Pennsylvania and educates 200 students, ranging in age from as young as 3 up to to age 21. WPSBC is a unique, intensive educational experience providing early intervention and outreach services to visually impaired children and adults. WPSBC takes a multi-disciplinary approach to their curriculum, staffing occupation and physical therapists, language and speech pathologists, and school psychologists.
The curriculum at WPSBC is divided into three age-appropriate programs: primary, middle and secondary. The Primary Program fosters school readiness for preschool and kindergarten-aged children; the Middle Program focuses on building independence for students aged 6 to 13, and the Secondary Program prepares 12 to 21-year-olds for a successful transition into adulthood.
Dr. Darren Hoover On Special Programs At WPSBC
January 22nd 2020, Everett & Hurite’s own Dr. Darren Hoover was appointed as board trustee of WPSBC. Dr. Hoover, a board certified pediatric ophthalmologist, had previously contributed to WPSBC over the years as a charitable cause. When a board trustee spot opened up, he interviewed, and was happily accepted onto the board.
The Board Trustee position is unpaid. “Nobody is there to make money,” explains Dr. Hoover. Board trustees serve because they have a genuine interest in the vision and core values of the school. “Everyone is committed to the mission.”
One of the more advanced services offered by WPSBC is the CVI Clinic, where students receive a functional vision assessment, full evaluation, and program recommendations based on their unique visual impairments. CVI stands for cortical visual impairment, which is a decreased visual response due to neurological issues in the brain, as opposed to an issue with the eyes themselves.
The board is made up of 10 to 12 trustees, and many of them are attorneys for nonprofits or finance. Dr. Hoover is the only physician as well as the only ophthalmologist on the board. “Whenever it gets medical, they look at me,” he says.
Every Board Trustee must serve on a planning and a governance committee, which meet quarterly to make important decisions about protocol at the school. One such example is for resuscitation orders for students with tenuous health. Previously, WPSBC did not recognize DNR (do not resuscitate.) To help figure out the best possible solution, the board brought in experts from children's hospitals, and performed research within the community. Ultimately, WPSBC decided to honor DNR orders to better align with what the community wanted.
Another allied program is A Child's VIEW (Vision in Extraordinary Ways), a childcare program that blends sighted children with sensory-impaired children. Through integration, children of all ability levels are able to learn alongside one another and develop a greater appreciation for diversity.
LAVI (Learning Adventures for the Visually Impaired) Adult Program is a licensed adult training facility for WPSBC graduates ages 21 to 59 who cannot join the workforce due to their visual impairments. Students in the program participate in a wide variety of practical and recreational services, including making baked goods that they later sell at a food counter. What makes LAVI so essential is that state regulations impair funding for such services, and few, if any, resources like it exist. “There is nothing comparable in the community,” Dr. Hoover explains.
When asked what he admires most about the school, Dr. Hoover states: “Medical science doesn't have the answer for certain kids. I'm happy to be involved in an organization that does fill in that gap, and provides a meaningful organization for kids who would be lost through the cracks.”
Learn more about Dr. Hoover and his clinical experience on our website. If you or a loved one experience an eye emergency, request an appointment with one of the physicians at Everett & Hurite, or call at 412-288-0858. We are committed to providing excellent, ongoing care for our patients while taking every possible precaution in preventing the spread of COVID-19.