Future Reflections                                                                                               Winter 2001

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Teacher Recognition

Karen DeFeo, Howard County Visually

Impaired Program, Maryland

Amy Herstein and Karen De Feo
Amy Herstein and Karen DeFeo

Editorís Note: Most of the teacher appreciation letters I receive are from parents, and about teachers and students that I do not know and have never met. However, I have had the great pleasure and good fortune of knowing every one of the individuals in the following letter for a number of years. I work closely with Karen, who is President of the Maryland Parents of Blind Children, on local parent projects; Iíve watched Amy grow into a young lady; and I have served with both Karen DeFeo and Betsy Clark on various committees. In fact, I had the honor of presenting Betsy Clark with the National Federation of the Blind of Marylandís Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award a few years ago.

The primary purpose for publishing these letters is to spotlight hard-working professionals who deserve public recognition. But these letters are more than that Ė they are blueprints for parents, teachers, and administrators who are often unsure about the role of the specialized professionals who work with our blind kids.

If you know a teacher, O&M instructor, Braille transcriber, teacherís aide, etc. who deserves a public ďthank you,Ē please send your Teacher Recognition Nomination Letter (with, if available, a photo of the teacher and/or the student) to Future Reflections, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, MD 21230. You may also send it by e-mail to <[email protected]>. Be sure to include the name and address of the sender, the teacherís name, the studentís name, the name of the school district, and specific details about why this professional deserves national recognition. The letters should be no less than one typed page, and may be up to three pages. If your letter is published, we will send you extra copies of the issue free of charge at your request.

Here, now, is this issueís letter in recognition of Karen DeFeo:

Teacher:Karen DeFeo

Student:†† Amy Herstein

School: St. Johnís Lane Elementary and Dunloggin Middle School, Ellicott City, Maryland.

July 16, 2001

(Mrs.) Betsy Clark

Vision Program Head

Howard County School System

Columbia, MD 21045

Dear Mrs. Betsy Clark:

I am writing to commend the dedication and fine work of Karen DeFeo, the Braille instructor who has been working with my daughter, Amy, for the past four years. Karen started working with Amy during fifth grade at St. Johnís Lane Elementary School and continued with her through Dunloggin Middle School.

The transition from elementary school to middle school was trying for both Amy and Karen. Many of the students and all of the teachers were new to Amy. In elementary school students have one primary teacher each year. The teacher of the visually impaired can spend one or two hours per day at the studentís school and communicate with the primary teacher each day. In middle school, there are seven or eight teachers to communicate with in the same amount of time. Karen has excellent communication skills to work with a variety of teachers. After the first two to three months of sixth grade, Amy, Karen, and the sixth grade teachers developed a very good relationship.

Karen has transcribed more than 2,000 Braille pages per year for the past two years. Many times she took work home in the evenings so Amy had Braille handouts at the same time her sighted peers received their handouts.

There were many times over the past four years when I had concerns with Amyís personal life, such as personal hygiene, posture, and social skills. Karen was always there to listen, offer suggestions, and even help by putting some goals on her IEP to work on these issues. Karen was also available in the evenings to talk, which meant a lot to me as a single working mother.

Karen has a strong knowledge of Braille and she is totally committed to providing accurate Braille materials. Karen participates in various statewide committees where she promotes the use of Braille. I hope she will receive your continued support to participate in these committees.

Amy has built a strong foundation in Braille skills due to Karenís efforts. Karen was open to adding items to the IEP that I felt were important, such as using the computer for e-mail and Internet access. These items may not be part of the school curriculum, but they are helpful tools for all students to know.

I would like to let you know I greatly appreciate all the hard work, the dedication, and the friendship Karen has given to Amy and me over the past four years.


Karen Herstein

Ellicott City, MD

Cc: Mrs. Karen DeFeo, †

Mrs. Barbara Cheadle, Editor, Future Reflections

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