School is No. 2 mid-size employer in Top Workplaces for 2022 - Albuquerque Journal

School is No. 2 mid-size employer in Top Workplaces for 2022

New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is the No. 2 mid-size employer in Top Workplaces for 2022.

Description: New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired was founded in 1903 by the Territorial Legislature of New Mexico. The school aims to help students achieve independence by educating them and their families, not only in academics, but also by teaching communication modes, orientation and mobility, social interactions, assistive technology use and self-determination. It consists of more than 230 employees across its two campuses, one in Alamogordo and another in Albuquerque. This is the seventh year NMSBVI has made the Top Workplaces list.

From the organization: “75% of the eligible workforce of individuals who are blind/visually impaired are not employed. This statistic has not changed appreciably in the past twenty-five years. The vision of the NMSBVI is to see that percentage change for the better. As a school of highly trained professionals, the NMSBVI is engaged in supporting employers to learn more about blindness and to envision an individual who is blind on their work-staff.”

From the employees: “In the past, Sundays were very unpleasant for me because it meant the end of my weekend and I had to return to work,” said one employee, “but that is not the case at NMSBVI. It’s a great environment here.” Another employee said, “I do meaningful work and have a great team of therapists and assistants to work with! The environment is positive and healthy!”

The following is an excerpt from an interview with New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Superintendent Patricia Beecher, whose comments have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

How has your concept of supporting staff work and home-life balance changed?

“We have really focused on supporting staff during the school day with coming up with ideas on how to help elicit wellbeing. So, we send out resources for emotional wellbeing to our staff and resources, both from our social workers and human resources department. And of course allowing leave for our staff to be able to care for themselves or their loved ones who might be impacted by the virus has been vital as well.”

What is the thing your organization does to retain its teachers?

“I think that it starts with our mission and our strategic plan and our beliefs that we unite around, and so first it’s that part of the culture. Secondly, it is helpful to have big raises next year. The significant raises are helpful to our staff and much needed, particularly during this experience of inflation. But also, we try to keep tabs on what the needs of the community are, and by the community I mean our staff, and we try to address those needs. So, we meet at the beginning and end of every school year, and we conduct surveys with our staff to see what’s working, what’s not working and what recommendations they have. And then as leadership teams we gather together, and we create goals and ways of addressing the needs and the suggestions of the community. And I think helps with retention. But really, it’s our students that keep people here because they’re fabulous.”

In what ways have your staff stepped up to meet the needs of the students and the community in this time?

“There’s no way to measure what they’ve done to step up to meet the needs of the community at this time. They reached out to every parent, every student to try to make sure, in particular when we were in remote learning, that every student was getting what they needed. We had individual plans for every student to be able to access services and determine what services needed to be provided in-person for our students. I think adapting lessons virtually, trying to be creative with homework bags and bags that contained items, even just simple school items that every family would need from home, so scissors and glue and all of that were sent home as well as making sure that technology was accessible to all the students.”

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