Sheila was born in Patuxent River, MD and Raised in Virginia Beach, VA where she attended public school.
As she tells it “I have no college degree, just life experiences.” This modest description does not do her justice having exhibited the traits of a natural leader respected by her fellow advocates.
Her drive and concern for the future of blind and visually impaired children is shown in the past 14 years that she has spent working for the Orange County Public Schools System, where she works with blind and visually impaired students, as well as those with many other disabilities. She states, “It makes me very proud to see how far these students come starting from 3 years old all the way through graduating from high school, knowing I had a little to do with their education.”
Her work on behalf of the blind and visually impaired does not end with educating the young. She has been involved in many volunteer positions, and is currently serving as the President of the Florida Council of the Blind, and the Greater Orlando Council of the Blind and the Vice President of the Friends of Library Access Inc. She was also elected as an alternate on the Transportation Disadvantaged Local Coordinating Board for the Orange County area.
She tells her move into education like this, “When I was young, I said I wanted to become a teacher. When I moved to Orlando, I volunteered at the school, and was fortunate to be offered my dream job as a Para Professional, which is a teacher’s assistant.”
When asked about Sheila her coworkers, friends and fellow advocates say, “She is real and honest, and doesn’t believe in “blowing smoke”.”
When asked to describe herself she is passionate saying, “I love people, and educating the public on the fact that we are very able, not disabled. That is my priority.”
When asked about what she does best Sheila is unnecessarily modest responding, “I am not sure. I guess that is a question for those I work with.” When asked those that she works and advocates with say that she is, “a calm leader by example in all that she does. Sensitive, caring and constant best describe Sheila.”
She is the only one in education, and the only one with a visual impairment in her family. She was brought up by a Mother who was disabled from polio in 1956. It was her Mom, sister, and her. It wasn’t easy for them as her mom was a divorced woman raising 2 daughters with a disability herself.
While Sheila plans to retire within the next few months, she has no intention of sitting back and doing nothing. Accepting the Consumer Affairs Chair on the Access Ready Board of Directors is a new way to bring her passion to a national focus.
The one thing she has to say about her profession, life and learning, experience that she wants others to know about her is, “I think my life has proven that visually impaired persons are able to do what they put their mind to, as long as the public is educated and realizes that the visual impairment is not who we are, but something we have to deal with. It doesn’t describe us, it is part of our life.”