Future Reflections Spring 1999, Vol. 18 No. 1


Teacher Recognition
Kim Challand, Braille Instructor


From the Editor: Ed Zehner, President of the Illinois Parents of Blind Children, sent me a copy of the following letter for consideration for publication in our Teacher Recognition feature. Here is what Ed says about Kim Challand:

Mr. William Peters
DeKalb County Special Education Association
DeKalb, Illinois

Greg Romanek
Special Education Liaison
DeKalb School District
DeKalb, Illinois

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to commend the fine work of Kim Challand, the Braille instructor who has been working with my daughter, Mingkhwan (10 years old, third grade) at Tyler Elementary School since September 1997. Here are some of the things we like about her:

She is enthusiastic about the Braille medium and expects our daughter to perform well using it. She has never tried to steer Mingkhwan away from Braille to tapes. She shows concern when our daughter reads slowly, rather than assuming the slowness is a fault of the medium itself. In short, she is a model of good attitudes about Braille.

She listened to our desire to foster improvement in our daughter’s independent travel skills. She worked repeatedly with aides, teachers, and students to get them to curb their desire to “help.” Her efforts have really paid off in improved independent travel skills.

Kim incorporates slate practice in class work so that our daughter’s skills on this instrument continue to improve.

The physical education teacher, the adaptive PE instructor, the aide, and Kim have promoted full inclusion in gym class—including full participation in team sports such as basketball (which another vision specialist had once told me was impossible!)

Kim has actively sought ways to demonstrate Braille and independent travel skills to Mingkhwan’s sighted classmates, and has included Mingkhwan in the demonstrations. Mingkhwan was initially hesitant about participating, but now takes pride in these experiences.

Kim introduced a simple drawing tool that Mingkhwan and sighted students can use with equal ease. Mingkwan draws, with crayon or pen, on a piece of Braille paper which is laid on top of a wire screen attached to a clipboard.  These drawings are equally decernible by sight and by touch. This is the first time that Mingkhwan has been able to enjoy independent drawing with other kids.

A few weeks into the school year, Kim began Brailling the classroom teacher’s  grade and comments on a strip of paper which she then staples to Mingkhwan’s returned assignments. This allows Mingkhwan to monitor her own work.

Last spring we had tried and failed to get Braille music incorporated into the IEP. When Kim Challand took over the case, she asked why music wasn’t included, and then proceeded to get it transcribed. (Last year, it would have taken a special, formal IEP meeting to get this done. This year, such common sense moves have been made administratively).

Kim gracefully handled  the frustration of a computer system that failed to work as expected. This system, which should have made it possible for a classroom aide to prepare Mingkhwan’s handouts and other class assignments for Braille translation and printout, was non-operational for some four months. In that time, Kim simply worked with another Braille transcriber and did extra transcribing work herself. And she took the initiative to call the specialists—repeatedly—until they got the equipment working right.

Two different aides received training in Braille from Kim. Within a couple of weeks the aides were preparing simple Braille materials on a Braille writer and interlining (copying print letters above the Braille letters) some of Mingkhwan’s work for the regular teacher.

Kim has promoted among the  entire school staff a positive attitude towards us as parents and high expectations for our daughter. She has been an extremely patient, determined, and creative instructor when working with  Mingkhwan (believe me, we understand the need for all these qualities).

When we have found a new resource through mail or the Internet, Kim is as eager as we to see what can be learned from it. She has returned the favor by passing along materials that might interest us.

All in all, we are extremely pleased with Kim’s competence, with her positive attitude towards the skills Mingkhwan is learning, with her high expectations for our daughter’s future, and with the way she has been working with us and with the other members of the school team. We hope we will be able to look forward to additional work with her in the future.

Edwin Zehner

Recognition for Teachers of the Visually Impaired

Has your son or daughter had an exceptional Braille teacher, early childhood specialist, Orientation and Mobility instructor, or other teacher of the visually impaired? Would you like for him or her to receive public recognition for the difference he or she is making in your child’s education? Future Reflections will publish letters of recognition from parents or other caretakers of blind children.

The letters should be one to three typewritten pages in length and include sufficient detail about the teacher and the circumstances to be of interest and inspiration to our readers. Please be sure to include: the name and address of the sender, the teacher’s name, the student’s name, the name of the school district, and any other pertinent details. Photographs, color or black and white (no slides, please) would be helpful. If you want the photograph returned, please include a self-addressed envelope. If you want multiple copies of the print issue should your letter be published, please indicate how many you want. We will send them to you free of charge.

Send your Teacher Recognition Letter, other information as requested, and photos (if any) to:

Future Reflections
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230.