Future Reflections Spring/ Summer1987, Vol. 6 No. 2

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by Mary Ellen Reihing

(Editor's Note: Miss Reihing has contributed several fine articles to Future Reflections over the years. She is blind, grew up as a blind child, and is currently employed as the Assistent Director of Job Opportunities for the Blind, JOB.)

After all these years one of my cherished childhood dreams is coming true. I remember all those times at the end of every quarter when I waited nervously for that manila card with the letters on it that would determine my future. It's my turn now. So just for you Mrs. Brown, here is a report card for the teacher.

Language Arts

Thank you for calling yourself a "Braille teacher," not a "vision teacher." Your terminology emphasized a skill I could learn, not a sense I would always lack. A+

Thank you for teaching me to use a slate and stylus in first grade, even though I grumbled at the time. You should probably have hidden that Perkins Brailler until I was older, but your performance was still above average. A Thank you for telling me that you read Braille slowly because you tried to use your eyes to do it --not because Braille was slow or inferior. It was neat to think that I could become better at reading than my teacher.
You did such a good job of protecting me from the stereotypes about Braille that I was in college before anyone told me I would never be able to read faster than sixty words a minute. Since I already read at more than three times that rate, it seemed a little late to slow down. A+

I wish you had found a term other than "going to 'out class'" to describe the time we spent in class with sighted students. "Out class" sometimes felt a little like "outcast." C

I wish you had told me that the library for the blind had Braille books and not just talking books. I wish you would have helped me learn how to order the books I wanted. It was fun being surprised by what the library sent, but I was in college before I knew that I could make my own requests. D

Thank you for making me learn to type and for not being fooled when I tried to waste the time alotted to my typing lesson. At least, you weren't fooled most of the time.
(I wish I could blame you for the fact that I still hate to type, but I can't, if I could, you'd get an F.) A-

Independent Travel

Thank you for forbidding me to shuffle my feet and hold back when someone was leading me. B+

Thank you for insisting that I walk around the school independently. A

Thank you for making me learn to run when I was scared. A

I wish someone had told you about cane travel for children and you had found a way to see that I had learned it when I was younger. Maybe then I would not have smacked into a wall and broken a front tooth while playing tag. Maybe I could have done things after school with my friends on the spur of the moment and taken the bus home alone afterwards. I did a lot of things with my friends in school, but I always had to plan them in advance. C

Attitudes About Blindness

Thank you for trying to protect us from the pettiness of the principal who didn't want us in her school. We still found out that she didn't care for us, but it didn't matter as much because we knew you did. A

I wish you had helped me meet blind adults. I was afraid that if I couldn't find a way to stop being blind, I'd have to go on being a kid forever. D

Thank you for never forgetting that blind kids always grow up needing to know more from life than pats on the head from indulgent adults. Thanks for loving us enough to insist that we respect ourselves and to earn the respect of others. A+

That's your report card Mrs. Brown. You passed. You should be promoted. So should your common sense ideas.

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