Future Reflections Convention Report 2008
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Joyce Scanlan: Good morning, fellow Federationists. Our committee consists of Allen Harris, Carla McQuillan, Adelmo Vigil, and Dr. Ed Vaughan. I serve as chair of this committee. The committee has indeed selected a most worthy person as the 2008 distinguished educator of blind children. But first let me describe briefly the purpose of this prestigious award. The Federation is very concerned that blind children receive an education of the highest quality, and to provide that education, we need to seek out and give recognition to those teachers who meet the highest standards. We identify such educators and bring them to our national convention to participate and to share their skill and knowledge and to expose them to blind children and adults so they can understand the importance of their work in shaping the lives of blind adults.
This year’s recipient is highly deserving of the award. She has high academic qualifications with a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies and a master’s degree in special education with concentration in orientation and mobility. She is praised highly by her colleagues. But in addition, she is one of us, a Federationist. Now who is she? She is Brigid Doherty, [applause] Distinguished Educator of Blind Children for 2008.
She was a scholarship winner in the Federation and has been involved in several state affiliates of the National Federation of the Blind for a number of years. Brigid Doherty has been an education coordinator in the Department of the Blind and Visually Impaired for the state of Virginia since 2005. Probably her most outstanding quality is her philosophy as a Federationist, which she incorporates into her teaching in many ways. She makes certain that the subject of Braille is brought into the discussion at the IEP [individualized education plan]. What specific technology is needed? How can the student best prepare for a future of independence and productivity? Who is a blind child working with to ensure all educational techniques are being considered and given appropriate attention? She asks the key questions that will make the difference between success and failure in a blind child’s future.
It is Brigid Doherty who is willing to go the extra mile to make sure each blind student’s specific needs are met. She’s the one to point out that the blind child needs to be aware that, when the college years come along, the responsibility for books and travel skills and everything related to carrying out daily living will rest with the blind student and no longer with the teacher. And this is all very important as Brigid has had a caseload of five hundred kids between the ages of birth and twenty-two. She is not only a competent and caring teacher; Brigid Doherty is a most compassionate person with a keen sense of her role as a teacher.
We’re very proud to name Brigid Doherty as our Distinguished Educator of Blind Children. As our winner Brigid has earned an expense-paid trip to this convention. She will be speaking about her teaching philosophy with respect to blindness at a meeting this afternoon of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. As a bonus for us, Brigid is this year, as she has for many years in the past, taking responsibility for teen hospitality during the convention--a most laudable undertaking, I would say. I have here for you, Brigid, a check for $1,000 and a plaque. I will present Brigid with the plaque, and then I will read what is inscribed on the plaque. It reads:
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
DISTINGUISHED EDUCATOR OF BLIND CHILDREN
FOR YOUR SKILL IN TEACHING BRAILLE AND OTHER
ALTERNATIVE TECHNIQUES OF BLINDNESS,
FOR GENEROUSLY DEVOTING EXTRA TIME
TO MEET THE NEEDS OF YOUR STUDENTS
AND FOR INSPIRING YOUR STUDENTS
TO PERFORM BEYOND THEIR EXPECTATIONS.
YOU CHAMPION OUR MOVEMENT;
YOU STRENGTHEN OUR HOPES;
YOU SHARE OUR DREAMS.
Congratulations, Brigid. [applause] Before I introduce Brigid, I want to let our Federationists know about the career change that Brigid is embarking upon. It can be said that, whatever job change may come about in a teacher’s life, that teacher will always be a teacher, regardless of the job title. Brigid has recently taken a position in which she will be instructing blind people in the Washington, D.C., area to use Metro transit, a very important and much-appreciated job. So congratulations, Brigid, on the new job and being named Distinguished Educator of Blind Children for this year. We are very proud to have you as one of our own.Brigid Doherty: Thank you so much, Joyce, Dr. Maurer, fellow Federationists. I am honored beyond words, and I cannot tell you how much this means to me. I just want to let you know that I am grateful for the education that I received from everyone in the Federation here and those who aren’t with us. I learned from all of you that we hold this truth to be self-evident: that it is respectable to be blind. When I come to convention--and this is fifteen years in for me--and see how many kids we have walking around with white canes, how many are carrying their technology, as Dr. Maurer said in his talk to them the other morning, they are what’s important, not their technology. But, by gum, they know how to use it, and they know how to use it young. They know how to use those canes, and they know that they are just fine. That’s because of each and every one in this room. I am grateful to you. It is an honor to be part of this family, and I promise, no matter what my job is, to continue to do my part and to reach out and teach the new folks coming in and teach those of our supporters and friends outside of the Federation that it is respectable to be blind, and that we are able and capable, and we have fun while we’re doing it. Welcome to convention, and thank you for this wonderful honor. [applause]
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