From the Editor: In the National Federation of the Blind we present awards only as often as they are deserved. This year two were presented during the annual meeting of the NFB board of directors and one was presented during the banquet. In addition the Bolotin Awards were again presented. A complete report of those presentations appears elsewhere in this issue. Here are the reports of the educator awards and the tenBroek Award:
Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award
Presented by Cathy Jackson
First of all, I want to thank my committee. We’re like the mailman: nothing stops us. It doesn’t matter if there is a change of email address or someone’s flight is delayed and they don’t get home from vacation until a day later. It doesn’t matter; the work goes on. I need to thank Allen Harris, Carla McQuillan, Mark Riccobono, Laura Bostick (formerly Laura Weber), and Mary Willows. Thanks, guys.
“The Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award is a very important award that we in the National Federation of the Blind have established because of our belief and hopes for our children. The most precious gift we have is to improve the future for our children.” This is a quote from Sharon Maneki, past president of the NFB of Maryland and the former chair of this committee. She spoke these words in 1992 at the banquet as she presented this award to Dr. Ruby Ryles.
Our recipient of this year’s award joins a long list of deserving winners. She hasn’t been in the field quite as long as some of the other recipients, but, nevertheless, she is doing a yeoman’s job. She has the education and the ability to teach, but first and foremost she has the heart, the spirit, and philosophy of a true Federationist. She is a natural TVI. Our winner is a student of Dr. Ruby Ryles. Dr. Ryles gave her a glowing report, and I believe it’s awesome to know that the winner of the award twenty years ago is still working in the field teaching and mentoring and has made such a profound impression on this year’s recipient.
So without further ado, I would like to present a beautiful plaque and a check in the amount of $1,000 to Casey L. Robertson of Mississippi. As Casey holds up the plaque, I would like to read the inscription. It says:
THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF
THE BLIND HONORS
CASEY L. ROBERTSON
DISTINGUISHED EDUCATOR OF BLIND CHILDREN
FOR YOUR SKILLS IN TEACHING
OTHER ALTERNATIVE TECHNIQUES OF BLINDNESS,
FOR GRACIOUSLY DEVOTING EXTRA
TIME TO MEET
THE NEEDS OF YOUR STUDENTS,
AND FOR EMPLOWERING
YOUR STUDENTS TO PERFORM
BEYOND THEIR EXPECTATIONS.
YOU CHAMPION OUR MOVEMENT.
YOU STRENGTHEN OUR HOPES.
YOU SHARE OUR DREAMS.
JULY 2, 2012
Congratulations, Casey. [applause]
Thank you, Miss Cathy, and thank you, Federation family. As I stand here today, you are my family. Leaders are created by watching great leaders, and the leaders within the NFB have made me the leader that I am. There is a piece of each one of you in this award today. I appreciate that. I often have people ask me, “Why do you give up so much of your time? Why do you take so much time away from your family?” I just let them know that this is not taking time away. This is my life. This is living. And, my friend, if you are not doing all that you can do and if you are not inspiring the people around you, you are not living the dream that you should live.
My family is as much a part of my work as I am. My daughter has traveled to many schools with me. She believes that everybody in the world is blind and everybody can use a cane. Unfortunately, my husband is not here today. Thankfully he is serving our country with the Army National Guard today and is deployed. But he loves the Federation family just as much as I do. I want to thank each of you, and remember, as I carry on, there is a piece of you in this award and the work that I do and that you do every day. Thank you.
Blind Educator of the Year Award
Presented by David Ticchi
Good morning, board and Federationists. It is indeed a pleasure to be here and a privilege to chair this committee. Before proceeding with this award, I would like to thank my committee: William Henderson, MA; Sheila Koenig and Judy Sanders, MN; and Ramona Walhof, ID.
This award was established by the National Organization of Blind Educators to pay tribute to a blind teacher whose classroom performance, community service, and commitment to the NFB were truly notable. In 1991 it became a national award because of the importance and impact of good teachers on students, on faculty, on the community, and on all blind Americans. We present this award in the spirit of the educators and leaders who founded and nurtured our movement: leaders like Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, and our current president, Dr. Maurer.
I want to tell you a little about this year’s award winner. I invite her to make her way forward to the platform, where I will present a check for $1,000 and a plaque. The winner of this year’s Blind Educator of the Year Award is Catherine E. Mendez of New York. Cayte served in the Teach for America Program, where she was placed in the Bronx in PS 69 in an integrated kindergarten class of twenty-five students. She did so well that seven years later she is still there.
Cayte is an alumna of Cornell University, where she majored in linguistics and Asian studies. She earned a master’s at Pace University in New York City, and she has done continuing education at Columbia Teachers College and Harvard University in standards-based curriculum and instructional best practices. Cayte, I spoke with your principal, and the praise and respect that she and your school colleagues have for you are truly impressive. She told me that not only is Cayte an excellent teacher, she is integrated into the whole school community. She carries a full load and is always creative and imaginative. She is always working to improve herself. In fact, this summer Cayte and her principal will be coming to the Harvard School of Education for a seminar. As an alumnus of the Graduate School of Education, I look forward to getting together with you there.
Cayte you are a longtime member of the National Federation of the Blind, active at the national, state, and local levels. You are active with the National Organization of Blind Educators. She is secretary of the New York City Chapter and has presented at state parent and student seminars. Here is the text of the plaque:
BLIND EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR
OF THE BLIND
CATHERINE E. MENDEZ
IN RECOGNITION OF
IN THE TEACHING PROFESSION.
YOU ENHANCE THE PRESENT
YOU INSPIRE YOUR COLLEAGUES
YOU BUILD THE FUTURE.
JULY 2, 2012
Cayte Mendez: I think I have heard it said that more than one person can’t keep a secret. But I think that has been completely disproven. I had absolutely no idea. Thank you so much. I honestly don’t know what to say. If anybody here knows me, you are probably saying, “Right.” It has been a privilege and honor working with everyone here over the last eleven years--working with Sheila and David and everyone in the educators division and everyone in my chapter and state affiliate. Carl, I can’t believe that you guys managed to bombshell me completely with this. Thank you so much. I am so proud to be here and so thankful. I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t do the work that I do if it wasn’t for the National Federation of the Blind. I was inspired to become a teacher at the Atlanta convention in 2004, so none of this would be happening without everyone here. Thank you so much.
The Jacobus tenBroek Award
Presented by Ramona Walhof
Tonight it is my privilege to present the Jacobus tenBroek Award. It is the highest award the National Federation of the Blind can bestow on one of its own. Of course it was named for our founder, Jacobus tenBroek, a much loved professor at the University of California at Berkeley and the primary leader of the NFB for more than a quarter of a century. Thus this award stands for excellence and is presented only as often as one of our members deserves outstanding recognition. Awarded sometimes to individuals and sometimes to couples, this honor is meaningful both to the membership and to those who receive it. I can testify to that, having received the award myself a few years ago.
The committee this year consisted of Joyce Scanlan, Barbara Loos, Jim Gashel, and me. We have selected a couple who you will all agree deserve to be honored in this way for their commitment to the NFB, their creativity, their love, and their support for the thousands of people they have served. They joined the NFB before they met each other. Together they are a team whose contributions no one can surpass. They live in the southern part of the country--yes, in Louisiana. [prolonged cheers and applause] Tonight we have chosen to honor Pam and Roland Allen. [continued cheers] Will the two of you come over here? [They were seated at the head table.] Pam met me at the edge of the platform on my way up here; she had no idea.
Let me review for you their contributions. Roland Allen grew up in New Orleans and was one of the early students at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. He joined the Federation at that time. Then he enrolled at Louisiana Tech University. During college he was a teacher in the summer program of the Louisiana Center. He has become a truly gifted travel teacher. Through the years he has taken on more and more responsibility. Today he continues to teach orientation and mobility to blind students at LCB, and he teaches degree candidates at Louisiana Tech University. He trains groups of students in fitness and weight lifting and in adventure seeking like whitewater rafting and rock climbing, and he has become a leader in building new opportunities and setting standards in teaching blind people and their instructors. For example, Roland has taught blind and sighted students wearing blindfolds on New York subways; in Washington, D.C.; in dog guide schools; and at Marti Gras—places that many consider too difficult or impossible for the blind to negotiate independently.
Roland Allen’s work is one of the reasons why Louisiana Tech graduates are offered jobs throughout the country. He has represented the Louisiana Center and the NFB by making presentations at meetings of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation (AER), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and two conferences for teachers and administrators of residential training centers for the blind, sponsored by the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Department of Education. In such settings you will see Roland out on the streets, working out new travel routes for his students. Roland Allen’s work has resulted in today’s blind travelers and their teachers seeking and achieving a higher degree of independence and confidence than ever before. As a young man Roland served as president of the North Central Chapter of the NFB of Louisiana and of the state student division. Today he is a member of the evaluation team of the National Blindness Professional Certification Board, which grants national O&M certification (NOMC).
Then we have Pam Dubel Allen. Pam grew up in New York state and discovered the NFB only after she had served in office in another blindness student organization. She first attended a seminar for blind students in Ohio. Then she did a college internship at the Louisiana Center for the Blind and then worked in LCB summer programs. Pam received the NFB’s highest scholarship of $10,000 in 1991 and graduated from Dennison University the following year. While in college Pam was elected to office in the Ohio student division and to the board of the National Association of Blind Students. After she graduated, she enrolled in the Louisiana Center for the Blind. When she completed training, she was hired as LCB director of youth services, a position she held for eight years. Her leadership made that program one of a kind in the nation. Every infant and toddler in the state is referred to LCB for consultation and assistance. She established a program to train aides who work in public school classrooms where blind children are enrolled, and she established summer camps for blind children and youth.
After Joanne Wilson departed from LCB, there was no question that her successor as director would be Pam Allen. Pam has continued to lead this important NFB program as it grows and develops innovative ways to train the blind and the sighted. She was elected president of the NFB of Louisiana in 2001 and to the national board in 2002. She has continued to be reelected every two years since. She has served as NFB treasurer since 2006. In this capacity she reviews NFB financial activity about twice a month. In addition Pam serves as secretary of the National Association of Rehabilitation Professionals. She has played an essential part in the development of the graduate program for blindness professionals in the Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech. She is a member of the advisory board of the Professional Development and Research Institute. As LCB director she has served on the Ruston Chamber of Commerce. The governor of Louisiana appointed her to the state’s Rehabilitation Council. Pam is a competent, loving woman who has helped to change the lives of thousands of blind people. When she attended an NFB leadership seminar, she hunted up and thanked everyone who had helped with the event.
I have for Pam and Roland a plaque for the Jacobus tenBroek Award. I want to read what it says, and then I have just a couple more comments.
JACOBUS TENBROEK AWARD
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND
PAM AND ROLAND ALLEN
FOR YOUR DEDICATION, SACRIFICE,
ON BEHALF OF THE BLIND
OF THIS NATION.
YOUR CONTRIBUTION IS MEASURED
NOT IN STEPS BUT IN MILES,
NOT BY INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCES
BUT BY YOUR IMPACT
ON THE LIVES OF THE BLIND
OF THE NATION.
WHENEVER WE HAVE ASKED,
YOU HAVE ANSWERED.
WE CALL YOU OUR COLLEAGUES WITH RESPECT.
WE CALL YOU OUR FRIENDS WITH LOVE.
JULY 5, 2012
At the bottom is the image of Whozit. I want to say congratulations to Pam and Roland. [cheers] We want to hear from both of them briefly.
Roland Allen: Wow. I absolutely love this organization, and I have been so blessed to be a part of an organization that has meant so much to me. I’ve been blessed with a job that I absolutely love, teaching our students at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. I am also blessed to have an extended family in all of you in the National Federation of the Blind. I want to thank Ramona and all the members of the committee and Dr. Maurer. I also want to thank Joanne Wilson, the founder of the Louisiana Center for the Blind, who brought me to the NFB over twenty-six years ago now. This is my twenty-sixth convention, so I’ve also been blessed to hear twenty-six banquet addresses from Dr. Maurer. Thank you guys very much, and I appreciate you all. [Applause]
Pam Allen: Thank you so much. I can’t tell you how shocked we both are and how honored and, most important, how humbled and how thankful we are to each of you in this room. I also want to thank the committee, and I want to thank Dr. Maurer and Dr. Jernigan, whom we both had the pleasure to meet. Thanks to Joanne and Barbara Pierce, and so many people who took a chance on me and on Roland. The successes we have had we share with all of you in this room. Because of your love, your support, your belief, your desire for equality, we have had the pleasure to work with and learn from and grow as individuals. I am so thankful to have Roland as my husband and my support, [applause] and to all of our many students. I am grateful that in this room tonight at the banquet we have some of our students who were in our infant/toddler program, at our Buddy and STEP programs, and our adult and senior programs. We share this award with all of you in this room. We are so honored and blessed to be members and leaders of the National Federation of the Blind, and we look forward to continuing to make the future bright and full of promise for all. Thank you so much. [Applause]
Roland: I’m sorry. I forgot to say one important thing. I have also been blessed to have a very beautiful, intelligent wife whom I love very much. [Applause]