A Day In The Life: Vision Care Program At East High

Fresh out of high school in 1991, Logan Newman didn’t know what direction his future would take him but he did know he wanted to enlist in the US Navy. He wasn’t a bad student, but states “I would probably have been described today as someone with ADHD. I was mostly uninterested in high school. I recognized my issue early on and decided that some time in the military would help me figure out what I wanted to do.” He decided on becoming a medic, which is known as a hospital corpsman.

He recalls that bootcamp was interesting and exciting. He played football and was on the swim team in high school so the physical part didn’t worry him. The mental part was much tougher. The top 2 recruits of his class based on education and physical lists would be awarded an E2 rank status out of boot camp. Newman made the mental decision to be one of the two and he was awarded the Academic award and went on to attend Hospital Corpsman training at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, CA.

Corpsman training was similar to bootcamp. He would go to class & work out but, unlike bootcamp he had much more free time on his hands. Even though Newman says they had a “work hard, play hard” mentality, he was able to maintain a spot in the top of the class. Newman was supposed to obtain orders to advanced training as an OR Tech after Hospital corpsman school but the orders never came.

Instead, he found himself at Optician C School in Williamsburg, VA. He spent several years learning and working at NOSTrA until his Honorable Discharge in 1995, He took his skills from the Navy and applied them towards becoming an Optometrist. After being away from the ophthalmic profession for a few years he decided that he knew he wasn’t truly interested in optometry schools. He talked with those closest to him and worked through options, ultimately deciding he would become a teacher. He was accepted by one, with the caveat he would need to re-take 2 classes to receive better grades. It was at that point that he knew he wasn’t truly interested in optometry schools. He talked with those closest to him and worked through options, ultimately deciding he would become a teacher.

In the fall of the year 2000, he started teaching at his former high school & realized he truly loved what he was doing. The following year he went on to teach at Rochester City High School but it wasn’t until October 2008 that fellow teacher, Paul Conrow, came across a student that couldn’t see and needed glasses. The school contacted the students family & it took until February for the child to have his vision corrected.

Interactive

Paul and Logan had formed a tight bond and Paul approached Logan about his former opticianry skills. He felt the length of time between finding the need for glasses and the problem being corrected was a little too long. In 2010, an administrator at their school approached the two to ask if they had any ideas for a $65K grant that was supposed to go to another school but was up for grabs.

One of the aspects was to develop an idea of program to benefit students. They began collaborating right away and came up with the idea that Logan could make glasses for students. They were approved and the funds went towards creating the Ophthalmic Fabrication program. He brought on 8 students during the summer to teach them basic skills he had remembered from his time at NOSTrA.

Over the course of the next year, he worked with Erie Community College in Williamsville, NY as they had an optician degree program. He wrote curriculum, talked with local companies, and even went to work at Rochester Optical to learn what was new and what he could do in the program,. Logan worked towards getting his NY Optician license so glasses made could be given to patients legally. He worked with local optometrists and optician organizations to recruit people who were willing to give glasses to kids in need.

In fall of 2012, he started his first class in the Ophthalmic Fabrication program at East High in an old auto repair classroom. Over the course of several years he purchased a phoropter, doctors chair, updated equipment, frames, and lots of lenses. He was able to develop the class into a multi year program. In year 1, he teaches students to make glasses and provided them with all the skills necessary to prepare them for manufacturing employment. Year 2 they work on improving their skills and added responsibility with working with local eye doctors who volunteer their time to see students. In year 3, students become “class leaders” and learn to make bifocals and progressive lenses for adults.

Over time he has changed the name of the program to “Vision Care” and has added more opportunities for doctor visits into their schedule where they are able to host Vision Care events.

The Vision Care program events have kids from all over the district coming in to be seen by volunteer eye doctors. The students are responsible for making the glasses for their peers. Over the past 8 years the program has provided around 5,000 pairs of glasses for students in the Rochester City School District, a high needs area with one of the highest per capita poverty ratios in the United States. Logan says he is “excited to say I have been able to use my Navy training to teach students to make glasses for other students. Some of these students have gone on to college to become licensed opticians in the area and others have gone straight into the workforce from high school, directly using these skills to improve their lives.”

Article written by Logan Newman, NBCT, ABO

Find him here: LinkedIn

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