Put together, Renee and Roger Toy have worked at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for more than 60 years. Their son recently started working there, too, turning their work at the school into a family affair.
Like many schools across the country, the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has struggled to fill vacancies this year, especially for direct care roles such as teachers’ assistants and residential instructors.
“Those are the positions that are typically paid less than our contract staff and we’re really having a hard time getting applications to fill those jobs,” Superintendent Emily Coleman said.
But the tight-knit school has less of an issue with retainment: Many staff members have worked there for decades.
“At the beginning of the year we do the service pin awards and we hand them out,” Coleman said. “And we have so many staff that have been here 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 35, sometimes they get their 40-year pin — which is crazy to me — but a lot of people have worked here a long time.”
Renee Toy has been at the school 36 years. She started out in TSBVI’s dorms for four years before getting a job teaching in the elementary department.
“And I thought, ‘I will happily teach here until I die,’” she said.