Future Reflections Winter 1994, Vol. 13 No. 1



Three special awards were presented at the 1993 NFB Convention. They were: the Blind Educator of the Year Award, the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award, and the Golden Keys Award. These awards are not bestowed lightly. If a worthy recipient does not emerge from the pool of candidates for a particular award, it is simply not presented that year. These awards are, therefore, meaningful expressions of recognition and gratitude to outstanding individuals who have made a difference in the lives of blind people.

The Golden Keys Award was presented for the first time in 1993 at the Convention banquet Thursday evening. The National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB), a division of the National Federation of the Blind, created the award; and Betty Niceley, President of NAPUB, made the presentation to the 1993 winner. The winner had, in Mrs. Niceley's words, "worked for us and with us to increase the use of Braille. [He] sought us out, wanted our comments, listened to us, and put into action the suggestions we made." She then presented a beautiful plaque with seven gold keys emulating the keyboard of the Braille writer to Deane Blazie, inventor of the Braille 'n Speak and many other outstanding Braille products for the blind.

The two educator awards were presented at the Monday morning meeting of the Board of Directors. Emerson Foulke was the 1993 winner of the Blind Educator of the Year Award. Stephen Benson, Chairman of the Selection Committee, described Dr. Foulke's many accomplishments, then presented him with a plaque and a check for $500. Dr. Foulke has a Ph.D. in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. He has written literally hundreds of articles, authored and co-authored many books, and taught at the university level for thirty-three years. He has long been involved in technical research and research on human perception. Beyond that, he has done extensive work in Braille and is involved in the construction of the Braille Code.

Sharon Maneki, Chairperson of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Selection Committee, presented that award. She said:

We in the National Federation of the Blind constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways to meet our goals. In 1987 we created the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award because we not only believed in excellence in education, but we believed that the best way to help blind people is to make it better for the next generation. The members of the Committee have a difficult task. Those members were Jacquilyn Billey, Allen Harris, Fred Schroeder, Joyce Scanlan, and I. We were able to find a candidate who reflects what we stand for. She is a candidate who has been teaching for nine years in the classroom. Some may say that's like combat duty, but she is a person who believes in students and passes on the torch, not only of knowledge, but of confidence in their abilities. This year's Distinguished Educator of Blind Children is a teacher in Zia Elementary School in the district of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Gail Katona.[applause] I'm going to present Ms. Katona with a check for $500 and also with a plaque, and I will read the plaque:

The National Federation of the Blind honors


for your skill in teaching Braille and the use of the white cane, for generously donating extra time to meet the needs of your students and for inspiring your students to perform beyond their expectations. Our colleague, our friend, our ally on the barricades, you champion our movement, you strengthen our hopes, you share our dreams. July, 1993

[PICTURE] Gail Katona, 1993 Educator of Blind Children award winner

After Ms. Katona accepted her plaque, she said:

I'm overwhelmed. Thank you very much for this wonderful award. It is a great pleasure and honor to receive it from an organization such as yourselves. I would like to thank Mrs. Maneki and the members of the selection committee for selecting me this year. I would also like to say thank you to Mr. Fred Schroeder, who, when I was first hired into Albuquerque, was the coordinator of the program. So Fred was the one who hired me initially and gave me the opportunity to start the program in Albuquerque and to teach these wonderful blind children.

I'm a niece of Karen Mayry from South Dakota, so it's no wonder that I've been a member of the NFB since I was about sixteen or seventeen years old, and it is through this organization that I have learned my philosophy and my attitude about teaching blind children. Blind children are children first-they're kids. They're little. They need to be taught. Our blind children need to be taught the skills of blindness. I do my best to make sure that all of my students get the opportunities to learn and to grow to their full potential. I think that is done through the use of teaching Braille so that we have proficient Braille readers, and we always encourage the use of a long white cane so the students can become very independent cane travelers. Thank you again. This is a wonderful honor.