QCHS grad returns to talk careers with students

MacKenzie Mahler, a 2019 grad and Kutztown University junior, spoke about teaching visually impaired students.
Posted on 11/19/2021
MacKenzie Mahler, a 2019 grad and Kutztown University junior, interacts with QCHS students in the Quakertown Perming Arts Center.By Gary Weckselblatt

Former Quakertown Community High School student MacKenzie Mahler returned home Thursday to speak with students about a rare major she is taking at Kutztown University. MacKenzie and fellow Kutztown student Allison Fidler, both juniors, spoke about becoming teachers through KU’s visual impairment program.

“When I first learned about it I wasn’t sure it was for me,” she said. “But it’s really appealed to me, it’s something not many people know about and I’m really excited about it.”

KU is one of only six institutions in the U.S. to offer a program focused on preparing teachers of the visually impaired at the undergraduate level, and the only one at a state university in Pennsylvania. Students receive specialized training to support young people who are blind or visually impaired. Teachers have the flexibility to provide instruction either in a small classroom or in a 1:1 individualized setting. They learn Braille and how to use specialized technology that supports students with visual impairments.

QCHS teacher Andrew Snyder, MacKenzie’s dad, spoke to the high school administration about having his daughter give a presentation during a Pride period. The idea was well-received as it fits in well with the school’s cutting-edge Career Pathways program. Students had the opportunity to sign up and attend the session in the Quakertown Performing Arts Center.

“This gives our students an opportunity to get an idea of the things out there they might not know about,” said Assistant Principal Jason Magditch, an administrator of the program. “Let’s put as much in front of them as we can. And with MacKenzie being an alum, that’s an added bonus. We’re open and eager to learn about careers that are being discovered now. We find something and we’ll run with it. The Pathways program is about opening doors for students.”

Mr. Snyder sees MacKenzie as someone “who sat in these seats and is able to come back and connect with our kids. I think the returning aspect of this is huge.”

During the presentation, students were engaged with the opportunity to wear simulation goggles, use a Braille cell and handle a cane.

“It was a pretty decent turnout,” said MacKenzie, a 2019 QCHS grad. “Everyone seemed to be interested. The interaction made it very interesting.”

Said Mr. Snyder, “The kids were really into it. I think they learned a lot. It’s a great thing for our Pathways program.”

Click here for more information about Career Pathways.

Click here for information about Kutztown’s Visual Impairment program.

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or gweckselblatt@qcsd.org.
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