By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – After Shrewsbury High School (SHS) special education teacher Meghan Wallace paid a visit to the Milford High School’s life skills program last year and witnessed what the students were doing with recycled eyeglasses, she was inspired to bring the program to her own students at SHS.
“It’s something [visit Milford High School] that I do once a year to collaborate, share ideas and to see different ways that we can grow our program,” Wallace said.
She explained that in the SHS Pre-Vocational Program students work on different vocational assignments to gain skills and practice them for future jobs.
The eyeglass recycling program in action –
She shared that her Milford High School counterparts partnered with their local Lions Club’s Recycled Eyeglass Program. The club bought them a lensometer which is an instrument used by eye doctors to measure and verify correct eyeglass prescriptions.
“There are all these different jobs for students of varying skill and ability levels to do and what I liked so much about it was the fact that the kids were doing something very meaningful and impactful to give back to the community.”
The program fills a void created by COVID-19 –
“We have jobs throughout the school and they [the students] usually help in the kitchen… but because of COVID that hasn’t been able to be done this year, so this was a blessing this fall because we were scrambling for jobs,” she remarked.
How the program works –
Wallace soon partnered with the Grafton Lions Club. Their eyeglass program needed people to process the eyeglasses so they were delighted to work with her students. They also bought a lensometer for her students to use.
Because of the variety of tasks, there is a job for everyone depending on their abilities.
First, the students wash and clean the eyeglasses and then, using the lensometer, they measure each pair’s prescription.
When asked about the accuracy of the students’ measurements, Wallace replied that they were remarkably accurate. One of her students is able to focus for an extended period of time.
The prescriptions are then recorded and the eyeglasses are individually bagged, making sure they are correctly labeled for the Lions Club to pick up and ship to where they are most needed.
The students gain more than skills–
“We explain [to the students] that the glasses go to Tahiti, Africa and sometimes they even go to different reservations and anyone who needs basic eyewear,” she added. “I thought it was not only an impactful program for the students but also for them to get a sense of giving back.”
“It’s real-world experience that they are gleaning from this and there are [several] students who understand the magnitude of what they are doing… and for the parents, they are excited about it because it is something very meaningful,” Wallace said.
She added that is what parents want for their child regardless of their capabilities – to contribute to their community.
Photos/Courtesy of Meghan Wallace
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