GMS Advisory Council

The NC State Board of Education Appoints 5-member Advisory Council at the Governor Morehead School

In September, 2014, the State Board of Education appointed a 5-member Advisory Council for the Governor Morehead School. The members of the Governor Morehead School Advisory Council are listed below.

Ed Summers, Chairman

Ed Summers represents individuals from the blind community being visually impaired for many years. He is a software engineer and an accessibility specialist. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from UNCW and 20 years of professional experience as a software developer and manager.  He currently serves as Senior Manager, Accessibility and Applied Assistive Technology, SAS Institute, Inc.

Ed’s personal mission is to enable people with disabilities to realize their fullest potential. He fulfills that mission as a leader in the software industry and disability-related not-for-profit organizations. 

Ed leads the accessibility team at SAS which helps people of all abilities succeed using SAS software. They also help SAS customers fulfill their disability-related legal obligations.

Ed’s passion is education and in 2012, he created a professional development program on how to use the Apple iPad effectively in the classroom with students with visual impairments (in collaboration with Ms. Diane Brauner, a teacher of the visually impaired). 

Ed is also leading several projects that make math and science more accessible for students with disabilities. He is the co-investigator on a NASA Education and Public Outreach project that will deliver an eBook on astronomy designed to be accessible for students with visual impairments. Ed is a Creative Technical Advisor on the Skynet Junior Scholars project which will deliver a browser-based interface that allows middle school students of all abilities to conduct research using a global network of robotic telescopes. Ed is also the driving force behind the STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities. This event will connect young students with disabilities with role models, i.e. successful professionals with disabilities that are working in STEM fields. Ed serves on the board of several non-profit organizations.

Gail Waters, M. Ed, Vice-Chairman

Ms. Gail Waters is a member at large with a long record of service in the visually impaired community. Her experience includes serving as a social worker for the blind at the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind; resource teacher, itinerant teacher, and lead teacher for visual impairment in the Wake County Public Schools; and lead teacher for Invision Services, Inc. (private contractual TVI and O&M Services). In addition, she has done contractual teaching and consulting services in visual impairments for several school systems and the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities. Ms. Waters has developed and supervised the itinerant model allowing visually impaired students to be successful in inclusive settings; developed a Third Party Agreement model with the Division of Services for the Blind, since replicated by other school systems, to provide transition services to visually impaired students; and has co-authored the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction publication, “Students with Visual Impairment Handbook.”

As lead teacher for the largest public school program for visually impaired children in North Carolina in the Wake County Schools, Ms. Waters engaged in program development, budget planning, departmental procedures, staff development and recruitment; supervised and evaluated teachers, orientation and mobility specialists, and braillists; served on county and state task forces and boards advocating and developing services for visually impaired children; conducted preschool vision screenings; and mentored new teachers in special education.

Dr. Issac Porter, M.D.

Dr. Isaac Porter represents an individual from the county in which the school is located. He is an ophthalmologist with Lowry Porter Ophthalmology, in Raleigh, NC. He obtained his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Kentucky.  He has co-authored and published several articles and done many presentations related to the eye. He was “New Lion of the Year in 2011” for the Raleigh Host Lions Club. He serves on the board of directors of the Raleigh Lions Clinic for the Blind and the Raleigh Host Lions Club. He is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and the Cornea Society.

Dr. Tessa McCarthy, Ph.D.

Dr. McCarthy represents an individual from special education.  She currently serves as assistant professor, department of curriculum and instruction, visual impairment training program at the North Carolina Central University. Her doctorate is from Vanderbilt University, and certifications include orientation and mobility, special education vision Pre K-12, English K-12, French K-12 and reading specialist K-6.

Dr. McCarthy previously served at the University of Nebraska; at schools in Kentucky, Tennessee, and France; and was a consultant for the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Kentucky.  She also served as an independent contractor for orientation and mobility in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. McCarthy has written several articles, done many presentations on visual impairment and won several grants.

Donna Permar

Ms. Permar is a member representing the local school district. She holds a Bachelors of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She attended the Governor Morehead School for the Blind from 1964-1977. 

Ms. Permar currently serves as staff assistant at the Duke Medical Center. She coordinates and prepares monthly call schedules for the Medical Intensive Care Unit; monitors medical student enrollment for the Medicine Sub-internship; and coordinates clinic appointments, referrals and diagnostic tests for clinic patients. She also arranges meetings, maintains calendar, coordinate travel arrangements, and composes correspondence to patients and Duke Medical Center staff. Ms. Permar previously served as a medical secretary and administrative secretary.

Ms. Permar has served on the Durham Area Transit Authority Board of Directors, is experienced as an event coordinator, and has held officer positions in several organizations. 

Advisory Council Calendar

The Council meets quarterly (August, November, February, May). Advisory Council meetings are meetings open to the public. Agendas for meetings are available on the GMS website.

Contact Information:

Barbria Bacon

Superintendent/School Director

Governor Morehead School


Accessibility Notice

In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the American with Disabilities Act, The Governor Morehead School for the Blind is committed to having a website that is as accessible for individuals with disabilities. If you are a student, parent, or any individual who has a disability and the format of any material on our website interferes with your ability to access the information, please bring it to the attention of Dr. Sarah McManus, Digital Learning Director at  The issue will be corrected and/or an alternate format will be made available.