The MDE-LIO Support Team was created to help develop competent, informed, and knowledgeable teachers and teachers of students who are visually impaired (TVIs), teacher consultants of students who are visually impaired (TCVIs), and certified orientation and mobility specialists (COMS) in Michigan schools.

Through this program, novice school personnel serving students who are Blind/Visually Impaired (BVI) are paired with experienced teachers and COMS as they gain experience in the field. This program is provided at no cost to districts or individuals.

Need for Support

Individuals who work with students who are BVI are in a unique position. TVIs/TCVIs and COMS:

  • Work with students ages birth to 26 who have a wide range of visual, cognitive, and physical abilities
  • Are often the only vision professionals employed by small and rural districts and are often isolated from peers who could provide knowledgeable assistance
  • Must be able to interact successfully with parents, teachers, health professionals, and administrators who may be unfamiliar with the needs of this population
  • Must have well-developed organizational skills to meet the demands of a fast-paced job that requires flexibility and creativity with unique students, learning environments, and schedules

Who is Eligible

MDE-LIO will support Michigan TVIs/TCVIs and COMS who are currently working in Michigan schools and meet at least one of the following:

  • Are in their first year as a TVI/TCVI or COMS
  • Recently transferred from another state
  • Recently returned to the visual impairment (VI) field after more than five years
  • Are students in the VI Consortium for Teacher Preparation who have been placed in a TVI/TCVI role

What is Provided

Direct Support

Each Support Team member will provide the following for up to two years:

  • Support in situations such as:
    • Conducting evaluations
    • Providing direct instruction and consultations
    • Teaching areas of the expanded core curriculum (ECC)
    • Scheduling daily plans and keeping records
  • Professional development resources, such as workshops, conferences, websites, and publications
  • Informal observations and supportive feedback
  • Networking opportunities with other VI school personnel

Supplemental Support

Novice school personnel participating in the Support Team program are also encouraged to participate in additional professional development activities provided by MDE-LIO.

Support Team Project Consultant Lynn Pensari is also available for phone or in-person meetings with administrators and teachers to share information and respond to individual needs for support.

Additional support may be provided by MDE-LIO’s educational consultants as needed.

How to Request Support

A request for support from the MDE-LIO Support Team can be initiated by any Michigan TVI/TCVI or COMS who meets the criteria above.

  1. Fill out and sign the New TVI/TCVI and O&M Specialist Support Request [PDF].
  2. Email the form to VI Project Consultant Lynn Pensari at pensaril1@michigan.gov.
  3. MDE-LIO will approve or deny the request:
    • If the request is approved, the requester’s administrator will be required to sign and submit a separate approval form.
    • The requester will then be paired with a Support Team member who will provide support and guidance.

Benefits for School Districts and Administrators

  • Expenses related to staff turnover are decreased; this builds continuity related to teachers’ professional development and retention
  • Professional expertise increases as new VI professionals are guided to:
    • Locate educational resources and materials that are free to districts for eligible students
    • Use additional MDE-LIO services
    • Learn about statewide family engagement activities and events
    • Obtain VI-specific assistance for ongoing professional development
  • Support is provided for assessments, instructional strategies, and all areas of the ECC
  • Provides an overall opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of Michigan processes, policies, and procedures for evaluating and serving students with visual impairments

Benefits for Students/Families

  • Long-term teacher retention, resulting in consistent high-quality instruction
  • Instruction provided to students in braille, assistive technology, independent living skills, and career education using best practices
  • Services offered in a universally designed manner to meet unique learner needs, including students with neurological visual impairments

Support Team Members

The MDE-LIO Support Team includes experienced TVIs, TCVIs, and COMS throughout Michigan. MDE-LIO has thoroughly vetted each member based on a specific set of criteria to ensure quality support.

Lynn Pensari, Ed.S., VI Project Consultant

Lynn received her BA in Special Education – Visual Impairment and Elementary Education from Illinois State University. She attended Stephen F. Austin State University to become a certified orientation and mobility specialist. Lynn has an MA from Eastern Michigan University in Educational Leadership and an Educational Specialist in Early Childhood – Special Education from Wayne State University.

Lynn worked in Illinois and Texas as a TVI before moving to Michigan, where she worked as a TVI and orientation and mobility specialist at Livonia Public Schools for 20 years. From 2013–2019, Lynn served as an education consultant for MDE-LIO.

Lynn is a Perkins-Roman-Endorsed Cortical Visual Impairment Specialist and was the recipient of the Michigan Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MAER) Award in 2018.

Marcia Pavkovich

Marcia Pavkovich received her BS in Education of the Blind and Visually Impaired (K–12) from Western Michigan University. She received her MS in Guidance and Counselling (K–12) from Fort Valley State College in Georgia, and her MA in O&M from Western Michigan University.

For the first six years of her career, Marcia worked in Houston County, Georgia, before moving back to Michigan and serving as a TCVI at Genesee Intermediate School District. During that time, she also worked for Disability Research Systems in Lansing on the Addressing Unique Educational Needs (AUEN)/Outcomes Project. She also helped develop the initial Michigan Vision Services Severity Rating Scale and had the privilege of helping local districts implement Quality Programs for the Visually Impaired (QPVI).

Adonna Wright

Adonna Wright is a retired COMS and TCVI. She earned her BS in Special Education from Eastern Michigan University and her MA in Blind Rehabilitation from Western Michigan University. She also earned an MA in Inclusion Education from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Adonna began her career as an O&M specialist in Detroit and later held a dual role as an O&M specialist and TCVI in Lincoln Park until she retired in 2019. She enjoys helping students work toward independence.

Kathryn (Kamie) Fortier

Kamie Fortier earned her BA in Special Education – Blind Visually Impaired from Michigan State University and earned her MA in Special Education – Early Childhood. She has more than 30 years of experience in the field in South Carolina, Texas, Minnesota, and Michigan.

Kamie has also served on committees such as the Michigan Vision Services Severity Rating Scale Plus and Minnesota Braille Skills Inventory. She is proud to have mentored four paraprofessionals as they worked to become either TCVIs or COMS.

Ann McKay-Bacon, M.Ed.

Ann McKay-Bacon is a retired TCVI from Macomb Intermediate School District with more than 44 years in the field. Ann has degrees from Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and Marygrove College in the areas of Visual Impairment and Emotionally Impaired, with Early Childhood Development certification. She is currently continuing an educational journey at Western Michigan University.

Ann has been part of of MDE-LIO’s technology team for more than 18 years as a trainer, evaluator, and co-author on the Michigan Assistive Technology Guidelines for Teachers of Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired as well as MDE-LIO’s Assistive Apps section. She has presented at MAER, the Council for Exceptional Children, and Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) conferences. She received the MAER David and JoAnn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.

Kimberly Canzoneri

Kimberly Canzoneri earned her BA as a Certified Visual Impairment Teacher (K–12) and MA in Special Education from Eastern Michigan University. She served as a TVI in the Lincoln Park High School VI Program for 24 years, worked for the Lincoln Park Middle School VI Program for two years, and served as a TCVI for six years before retiring in 2020. Her passion is working with students who are Blind/Visually Impaired on high school transition skills and independent living skills.

Judy Davidhizar-Holmes

Judy Davidhizar-Holmes taught O&M to students ages 0–26 for 38 years before retiring in 2018. She has certifications in preschool and elementary education and is a retired TCVI who has worked in a variety of educational settings throughout the Midwest as well as at the School for the Blind in Nuremberg, Germany.

Judy’s strengths include teaching and tailoring O&M lessons to offer students full access to their world—through meaningful and relevant instruction—and to have fun learning in the process. Her focus is enabling each student to reach his or her full potential and to build skills that enable a student to become his or her own best advocate. Judy continues to be involved in professional O&M and VI organizations, and she strives to ensure that her students are included in their communities.