Future Reflections          Convention Report 2007

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2007 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award

by Sharon Maneki

Sister Meg (right) sits on the front platform with chairperson Sharon Maneki as she is presented with the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award.Editorís Note: The National Federation of the Blind presents awards only as often as they are deserved. The following is a report of one of the award presentations that occurred on Monday, June 30, during the annual meeting of the NFB board of directors. Here are the transcribed remarks beginning with Sharon Maneki:

Good morning, Mr. President and fellow Federationists. The committee of Allen Harris, Joyce Scanlan, Dr. Edwin Vaughan, and I are pleased to present a distinguished educator of blind children. Many of you know this individual because you have heard her speak. She gave an eloquent speech at the parents of blind children division meeting on Saturday. But we didnít pick her because she could make a good speech, although thatís a nice quality to have. This woman is a person who believes in and fosters independence of blind children, not once in a while, but every day. She is a woman who has high expectations. She is a woman who believes in the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. As she makes her way to the stage, letís greet Sister M. Margaret Fleming, who is the principal of the St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairment and Blindness in the great state of Pennsylvania--Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [applause]

Now Sister Meg is what she wants her friends to call her; and of course we are friends of Sister Meg in the National Federation of the Blind. She has been a teacher for thirty-five years. She has been the principal of the school for many years, since 1995. I just want to tell you one little fact about the school. There are many things we could say. Her school has fifteen hundred Braille books in the library; that shows you the kind of school it is. So, Sister Meg, I have for you first of all a check in the amount of $1,000. Then I am going to present a plaque to you. The plaque reads:

National Federation of the Blind
Sister M. Margaret Fleming
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 dream.


Sister Meg: Sharon did say to me I had to talk for a whole minute. Iím not going to talk for a whole minute, but I am going to take these few seconds out to say a huge thank-you to NFB for being there when we need you. There is never a time that I donít call Jim or Lynn from the Keystone Chapter in Pennsylvania of NFB that they donít get back to me, that they donít help us, that they donít support us. For this I am very grateful. In tomorrowís readings for church, it says, ďYou are strangers and aliens no longer, but I call you friends.Ē This is my opportunity to say to NFB, ďI call you friends.Ē And because you are a friend to our children, you are there for us. You help us to achieve independence; to encourage our own self-esteem; and to work very, very hard to do what their dreams are. For that I thank you. [applause]

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