More than 200 students at Sandy Springs Charter Middle School see the world through new lenses thanks to Sandy Springs Rotary Club and Vision to Learn.
The Sandy Springs Rotary Club partnered with Los Angeles-based nonprofit Vision to Learn to provide prescription lenses to nearly 1/3 of students at the middle school during the first phase of distribution. In total, Sandy Springs Rotary Club has purchased more than 800 pairs of glasses for Sandy Springs students.
Club members and volunteers spent the mornings of Dec. 7 and 8 handing out glasses to students at Sandy Springs Charter Middle School. Students were briefed on how to take care of their glasses and when to wear them.
Vision to Learn was founded in 2012 by Austin Beutner in Northridge, California. He saw the need once he found out that so many students in the Los Angeles area were struggling in school, partly due to not being able to see the board or read clearly.
The idea was to bring a vision clinic to the kids (at schools or Boys and Girls Clubs) to access whether they needed glasses and then to provide the proper glasses for them to be able to see and do better in school.
As of 2022, Vision to Learn has visited 5000 schools and Boys and Girls Clubs and has provided 350,000 children with glasses. They currently have 50 mobile clinics and over 200 employees working for them.
“It’s such an amazing program, and we are so appreciative to have this great partnership,” Fulton County Schools spokesperson Anne Boatwright said. “Of course having additional helping hands through the generosity of Rotary of Sandy Springs members assisting with screenings and glasses distribution, made everything go more smoothly. And to know that nearly 1/3 of the Sandy Springs Middle School’s population is now equipped to clearly see in the classroom, makes us feel so much better about their education and learning potential.”
FCS set up the partnership with Vision to Learn through the district’s Bridge To Success Plan, the three-year comprehensive plan and transformational investment to help students recover from learning loss resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure student achievement, growth and success.
Setting up the partnership with Vision to Learn cost around $800,000 and was funded by the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan.
According to the Center for Research and Reform in Education and the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University, children who received glasses did better in school and the impacts were greater than more costly measures such as lengthening the school day, providing computers or creating charter schools.
Sandy Springs Charter Middle School Principal Laurie Woodruff said they will likely look at student achievement data for the students who received glasses.
“Looking at student achievement and at the kids who received glasses will be a key indicator as we move forward,” Woodruff said. “We’re basically at the end of first semester now, so moving forward into second semester to see the change in the two would be interesting data to track.”
Sandy Springs Charter Middle School students have been looking forward to their glasses since the beginning of the school year. Students underwent a school-wide vision screening and those who needed to took a vision test later on. After receiving his new glasses, seventh grader Alan Panchi-Lopez could be seen trying them on and testing his sight with and with out his new glasses.
Panchi-Lopez said he has worn glasses before, but not specifically for his prescription. He has trouble visually focusing, but said his new glasses help.
“I have a tendency to just kind of zone out and so my eyesight starts to get blurry, but now I can do it,” Panchi-Lopez said. “Now my vision doesn’t get as blurry. Also, wearing glasses isn’t actually that bad.”
When the last pair of glasses was handed out, Sandy Springs Rotary helped 228 Sandy Springs Charter Middle School students see clearly.
For more information about Vision to Learn, visit https://visiontolearn.org/.