DJ Prater: Teacher Spotlight

DJ Prater helping a blind student using JAWS on a laptop.

FSDB Assistive Technology Specialist DaJuana "DJ" Prater is based in Gibbs Hall (Blind Department) but goes wherever she is needed. She got her start in engineering, then decided to enlist in the military, and finally ended up in the education field. Her students enjoy her patient expertise and legendary sense of humor. Prater's classroom in Bryant Hall contains many shelves of technical resources and a list of positive strategies for use in behavior management.

What brought you to FSDB?

We moved to St Johns County during the summer of 2000, and I applied for several positions within the county school system. It had been a few weeks, and I had not heard from any of the schools. There was a pre-kindergarten/kindergarten/first grade position open at FSDB, and I was encouraged to apply. I had primarily taught high school math, science, and varying exceptionalities, so I was a bit reluctant to apply. However, I took the chance. I was called for an interview and fell in love with the campus. It just felt like "home." The next day, I received calls from SJCS to come for interviews at two local high schools. I trusted that God had a plan for me to be here, and I accepted the position at FSDB. I loved every minute of working with my students. I worked in the Blind Elementary School for six years before moving to the Blind High School to teach technology, computer skills and digital media. We expanded the curriculum to include techniques for blind and visually impaired students to participate in digital photography and videography. Several of the students I worked with went on to win awards in the area of photography. From there, I was hired to be the assistive technology specialist.

What is the nature of your job?

I work with students and staff members in the Blind Elementary-Middle and High Schools. My duties include the following:

  • Image computers for students in Grades 5-12 to include necessary accessibility software.

  • Provide instruction to students and staff, both in groups and on a one-to-one basis using accessibility software and devices.

  • Work with students and staff members on making current technologies and software accessible to blind visually impaired.

  • Along with my assistant, we manage inventory of all student issued computers and assistive technology (AT) devices.

  • Troubleshoot and make repairs on AT devices such as electronic magnifiers, CCTVs, refreshable braille displays, and some embossers.

  • Drop-in to classes to provide AT support.

  • Create training for various AT applications.

  • Present at conferences as needed.

  • Download audio and digital texts for students.

  • Assist with preparation and administration of state assessments and progress monitoring assessments.

DJ Prater stands behind blind girl while she types on her laptop.