For more than 29 years, Julie Pashovich has been working and serving students who are blind and/or visually impaired.
“What I love most about my job is being able to provide students with materials and resources that are accessible for them,” said Julie. “Being able to have the right materials and tools is a critical part of their learning and success, and being a part of that process is special.”
As the administrative professional for the Assistive Technology & Accessible Educational Materials (AT&AEM) Center, Julie wears many hats. From leading and organizing the work of the Braille Excellence for Students and Teachers (BEST) grant to assisting her colleagues, Julie enjoys being able to engage with and serve people from around the state by coordinating, planning, and implementing professional development and inservices. She has worked in this role since January 2010.
About the BEST Grant
The BEST Grant is a statewide project of professional development and technical assistance dedicated to braille literacy, braille instruction, braille materials, and braille technology in Ohio schools. The goals of the project are to:
- Increase the braille competency of Ohio’s educators through the provision of high quality professional and technical assistance that focus on results-driven outcomes.
- Increase the knowledge and use/implementation of braille and state-of-the art technologies of Ohio educators through high quality professional development and technical assistance that focus on result-driven outcomes.
- Increase the competency of personnel providing quality braille materials for Ohio students who require braille through the provision of high quality professional development training and technical assistance support.
To help provide braille materials for students, the grant offers braille translation software and trainings, as well as setting up 18 braille production sites in districts and Educational Service Centers (ESCs). The Center is proud to be part of this work, as Ohio is one of only three states that receive the BEST grant, along with Oregon and Illinois.
When asked about how how she is inspiring change, Julie shared a personal experience from the Family and Educator Braille Conference, designed to highlight new technologies for the blind and visually impaired.
“One year, I had a mom and dad bring their teenage son who had recently lost all his sight and was severely depressed. I noticed him when he walked in because you could tell he did not want to be there. At the end of the day, his family walked up to me and thanked me for putting the conference together and told me their son’s story. It was amazing the hope that now showed on his face through a smile. He said to me, ‘I think I can do this.’ Events like these leave a lasting impression on me because of the families I have met,” explains Julie.
Something that people may not know about Julie is that she and her family own and operate a food truck business. She and her husband launched Pitabilities in 2010, specializing in fresh, made-to-order pitas. Since that time, their business has grown to three food trucks and 25 employees, including two of her four children.
As food lovers, Julie and her husband also have a passion for trying new recipes and food, as well as visiting different diners. “On my husband’s birthday, we decided to get in the car and just start driving. We explored five different diners and coffee shops in five different cities all over Ohio.”