Future Reflections         Winter 2010

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Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award

presented by Joyce Scanlan

Annee HartzellFrom the Editor: In keeping with its commitment to improve the standard of education for blind children throughout the country, the National Federation of the Blind gives an annual award to an outstanding teacher of blind children. The 2009 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award was presented at the meeting of the NFB Board of Directors by Joyce Scanlan.

As you know, the National Federation of the Blind recognizes outstanding educators of blind children who exemplify the very best qualities in addressing the specific needs related to blindness. A distinguished educator of blind children must demonstrate a profound belief in the capacities of blind children to lead full and meaningful lives. He or she must understand the value of Braille reading and writing, the use of the long white cane for independent travel, and the use of appropriate technology. Such a teacher must hold a firm conviction that blind children should be prepared to achieve their personal goals and realize their individual dreams as fully as their sighted peers.

I am pleased to tell you that the committee has identified as this year's winner one who demonstrates the finest qualities in all of the areas we desire. She is Annee Hartzell of Walla Walla, Washington. [Applause.] She is our Distinguished Educator of Blind Children for 2009. Let me tell you about her.

Annee Hartzell has outstanding professional qualifications for the field she is pursuing. Her academic credentials tell of a well-rounded background. She earned a bachelor's degree in 1992 with concentrations in political science and Japanese. In 1995 she received a degree from the University of Washington School of Law. In 2002 she earned an MS degree in special education with concentrations in severe needs, vision orientation, and mobility from the University of Northern Colorado. She has several relevant professional certificates, including the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals Orientation and Mobility Certificate. She has excellent teaching skills. She is fluent in Spanish and is proficient in using and teaching assistive technology, including notetakers, Braille displays, OCR software, and appropriate Microsoft applications. I can tell you I am truly impressed, Annee.

Annee is very competent to teach Braille in both literary and Nemeth codes. She says she has a functional understanding of the Japanese language and its Braille system. She studied the language for four years in college, including one year at Yoshida University in Kyoto, Japan.

I have been speaking of Annee's professional and academic qualifications primarily. All these fine certifications and degrees are impressive. But the real reason we feel that Annee is an outstanding teacher and deserving of our award is that she practices in her daily professional work the high expectations and positive philosophy of our organization. She is a member of the National Federation of the Blind. Her professional practices are based upon personal experience. She has seen that blind students thrive best on a positive philosophy of blindness and the best alternative techniques.

Annee has received a number of honors and awards. She has received scholarships from her state NFB affiliate and also from the National Federation of the Blind. She has now had nine years of teaching experience in California and in Washington. She receives high praise from her principal, under whom she has taught for the past five years, and a glowing recommendation from the very pleased parent of one of her students. That tells us much about how she is valued by those who know her and work with her. She also has contributed ably to programs of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children at national conventions.

As the winner of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award, Annee receives transportation to this convention, the opportunity to speak at and participate in seminars and other significant events of the NOPBC, a check for $1,000, and a beautiful plaque, which I will present to you, Annee. Hold it up while I read the inscription. It reads:

"THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND HONORS
ANNEE HARTZELL
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.
JULY 2009."

Congratulations to you, Annee Hartzell! We are very proud of you and are pleased to have you as our Distinguished Educator of Blind Children for this year.

Before we hear from Annee, I would like to thank the members of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award committee. They worked together as a fine team. They are Mark Riccobono of Maryland, Dr. Ed Vaughn of California, Carla McQuillan of Oregon, and Allen Harris, now of Alabama. Thanks to all of you members of the committee.

Now let me present to you Annee Hartzell, our Distinguished Educator of Blind Children for 2009.

Annee Hartzell: Good morning, fellow Federationists, board members, and committee members. I would like to thank you very much for raising me up in the Federation. I came to the Federation twenty-one years ago this week as a result of the National Federation of the Blind scholarship program. I came to Chicago as a scholarship recipient. I thank Denise and Gary Mackenstadt for believing in me and writing such a glowing recommendation. I also would like to thank two people who aren't with us today, my parents. Without my parents, who believed in me, who raised me, who expected so much of me, I wouldn't be standing here. They expected that I would accomplish the same things as my twin brother and younger sister. And without the belief of the Federation, without that gift, I wouldn't be here. It is my life purpose to reach out to the children I serve, so that I can give that gift to them. I hope that I can continue to give that gift to my kids. [Applause.]

I understand that a check goes along with this award that you guys are so generously giving me this year. I intend to invest this gift in a knfbReader. Mr. Jim Gashel came to our area in eastern Washington, and we are starting a pilot program. We are going to take the knfbReader to our little eastern Washington program. We will spread the gift of the Reader to the K-12 system and find out what it can do for kids. We will report back.

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