Recruitment is a high priority for Lebrick
In a short time, Marge Lebrick has proven to be a tremendous asset to the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.
Lebrick, who has only been with the department for two years, was recently chosen to succeed Lenore Dillon as the coordinator of vision rehabilitation therapists and orientation and mobility specialists.
Despite her strong background in vision rehabilitation in her native Wisconsin, Lebrick said the hire came as a surprise.
It was Dillon who opened the door for Lebrick to initially make the move to Alabama. After more than a decade as a vision rehab therapist in Wisconsin, Lebrick said her family was ready to move to a warmer climate. She saw a position Dillon had posted, applied, and soon found herself making the move to Homewood.
Lebrick’s strong background made her a great choice to step in for Dillon. In Wisconsin, she was active on the Association for Education and Rehabilitation (AER) Board for seven years, serving as the secretary, president-elect, and past president on two occasions. She helped create a weeklong training session for adults with vision loss (a program similar to ADRS’ Camp SAVI) and conducted the first two on the campus of the University of Wisconsin at Osh Kosh.
“They stayed in the dorms along with the staff, and we had training and classes all day long,” she said. “We also had evening activities and other fun stuff.”
Lebrick now serves on the Alabama AER Board and has been an important part of the College Quest program at Auburn University.
Vision rehab was not initially a career path Lebrick pursued. Her career began with Milwaukee Public Schools and included positions as a teaching assistant while she completed her bachelor’s degree in adult education at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. During that time, she transferred into a high school resource room for blind and low-vision students so that she could work closer to home.
“I got into the classroom, and that is what got me into the field,” she said. “I just fell in love with it. The teachers started showing me how to teach Braille, and they encouraged me to get my master’s.”
Lebrick took their advice, attending Northern Illinois. She now has 14 years of experience in the field.
She said she is grateful to now have the opportunity to lead Alabama’s programs forward.
“I am very honored, because I am the new girl,” she said. “I had so much support. I just felt humbled and honored by how many people in our office reached out and the support I got.”
There are big shoes to fill, Lebrick said, but she has lots of goals and ideas. The top priority is the recruitment of VRTs to fill vacancies. She hopes to communicate the need for these positions to the younger population and let them know about the rewarding career choices and educational grants that are available.
“There is a new program at Northern Illinois, a bachelor’s-level program, that allows students to earn a degree in blind rehab,” she said. “That is brand new and just started in August.”
Creating opportunities for advancement through intermediate-level positions would also be helpful, Lebrick said.
“It would be nice to be able to see people move up,” she said.
One of her ultimate goals would be to help colleges within the state launch VRT bachelor’s, master’s, or certificate programs.
“That would be neat, to try to work with the colleges. There is a need.”
Lebrick said there is a lot of work to do, but she is ready to take on all tasks ahead of her.