The College of Education is always proud of our programs that give teachers the opportunity to go above and beyond for their students. A feature article was published for one of our own recent graduates, Heather Hagstrom in the Springfield News-Leader on Tuesday.
Heather Hagstrom received a master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Blindness and Low Vision, and was awarded the Delta Gamma Foundation Student Stipend Award to attend the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference.
Teacher helps students with vision problems by Jessica Clements, MSU’s new media specialist
For Heather Hagstrom, finding a new passion and professional direction as an educator all began with two students in her music class.
“I first became interested in helping students who are blind and who have low vision when I was a first-year music teacher,” said Hagstrom. “Two students who were blind were in my classes that I taught, and I started adapting my classes for them after observing a teacher of the visually impaired at that school.”
By the end of two years, Hagstrom had taught one student how to play the piano and the other how to sing songs using vowel sounds. She had found her new direction.
“Recognizing the many challenges that people who are visually impaired encounter on a daily basis has made me passionate about helping students who are blind and who have low vision,” said Hagstrom. “I desire to help them learn, become independent and achieve their fullest potential to overcome the challenge of their vision loss.”
Hagstrom, who lives and works in Kansas, followed her new passion by pursuing a master’s degree in special education with an emphasis in blindness and low vision at Missouri State University. She graduated from the program this spring and serves as an itinerant teacher of the visually impaired for the Blue Valley School District in Overland Park, Kansas.
“MSU has also prepared me to more fully support students who are blind and who have low vision in the school system by teaching me how to analyze students’ eye reports, conduct vision evaluations and provide classroom accommodations to teachers,” said Hagstrom.
In recognition of Hagstrom’s determination to help her students, she received the Delta Gamma Foundation Student Stipend Award to attend the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference.
“This conference gave me the opportunity to network with vision professionals across the nation and to receive many resources to help my students and their families,” said Hagstrom.
Hagstrom’s online course work expanded her skill set as a teacher of the blind and led to her receiving national certification in literary braille. One of Hagstrom’s Braille students will even compete as a finalist in the National Braille Challenge.
“I have really enjoyed using all of the information that I learned in my classes to directly benefit the students that I teach,” said Hagstrom.