Future Reflections Fall 1988, Vol. 7 No. 3

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[PICTURE] Evelyn Rlggan accepts the Distinguished Teacher Award at the banquet of the National Federation of the Blind 1988 convention. She is congratulated by Kenneth Jernigan (left) and Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind.

Editor's Note: This is reprinted from the September/October, 1988 issue of the Braille Monitor.

In 1988 the National Federation of the Blind established the "Distinguished Teacher of Blind Children" award. Mrs. Ramona Walhof, who chaired the selection committee, made the presentation at the convention banquet on Thursday evening, July 7. She said:

"We have talked a lot about the education of blind children at this convention. We have talked about the problems --and there are problems. But there are also teachers who are working to solve the problems. It seems appropriate for the National Federation of the Blind to recognize those teachers of blind children who are doing good jobs.

"For the first time this year the National Federation of the Blind has selected from all the teachers throughout the country one distinguished teacher of the blind. This is our way of recognizing and congratulating this teacher for optimistic expectation and tough instruction of blind students. In our culture teachers of blind children are still the role models for both the children and their families. The teachers have tremendous influence (whether for better or worse) on young children. As we do with scholarship winners, we bestow upon this teacher not only an award but also our greatest gift, ourselves and our Federation.

"We advertised for nominations and applications, and we received many. Some of you have heard from the woman we chose. She made a presentation earlier in the week at the meeting of the Parents Division, a presentation which was well received. She has attended as many of our meetings as she could this week. Sitting with the Oregon delegation, she has shared with us this convention. I urge you to get acquainted with our Distinguished Teacher.

"Evelyn Riggan works with children six and under, primarily in the Portland, Oregon, public schools. She has taught at three schools for the blind--Utah, New Mexico, and Oregon. She has also taught in an itinerant program in eastern Oregon as well, and she is building a very strong program in Portland.

"The Distinguished Teacher of Blind Children Award includes a check for $500 and a plaque. The plaque reads: 'Distinguished Teacher of Blind Children Award, presented to Evelyn Riggan for her outstanding dedication, service, and talent from the National Federation of the Blind, July 7,1988.'"

Following this presentation by Mrs. Walhof, Evelyn Riggan spoke:

"It is indeed a pleasure for me to be with you. When I was contacted if my name could be placed in nomination for this award, I was told that I would need to share something about my philosophy of education, and I would like to comment very briefly on that to you.

"I wrote something' like this. The following are attitudes that I carry into my work with adults, with children, with the blind, and with the sighted. I believe that everyone has the right to be respected, to be curious and explore, to make mistakes, to laugh and have fun, to live independently, and to make choices. And along with rights come responsibilities. Everyone has the responsibility to take care of one's own self, family, belongings, and world--to take the consequences of one's own actions and inactions -- to respect other persons' property and rights. It is the teacher's role, along with the family, to facilitate experiences, mold self-discipline, stimulate thinking, build a sense of self-worth, promote common sense, and provide instruction and skills to gain independence and self-sufficiency.

"It was twenty-nine years ago that I met my first blind child when I was a regular classroom teacher in a fourth grade public school class. I think I had only seen two blind people before that time in my whole life. Jannie, who was my fourth grade student, was expected to do everything that all the other kids do. She had already had Braille instruction. This was the fourth grade, period. She had her books, and she did very well. I have, of course, worked with many blind children since that time --and my aims and my objectives are still the same. "It is with honor that I accept this award as a representative of all of the teachers who are committed to having our blind children become self-sufficient, socially assured, well functioning adults in our community. Thank you all."


By Sharon Maneki

The National Federation of the Blind will recognize an outstanding teacher of blind children at our 1989 annual convention, July 3-9 in Denver, Colorado. The winner of this award will receive an expense-paid trip to the convention. At the convention banquet, the winner will also receive a check for $500 and an attractive plaque. The recipient will also be invited to make a presentation about the education of blind children to the National Federation of the Blind's Parents Division early in the convention.

Anyone who is currently teaching, counseling or administering a program for blind children is eligible to receive this award. It is not necessary to be a member of the National Federation of the Blind to apply for or win this award. However, we expect the winner to attend the National Convention. Teachers may be nominated by colleagues, supervisors, or friends. The letter of nomination should state why the teacher is being recommended for this award. The nominee must meet two additional requirements.

The nominee must write a one-page letter describing his/her beliefs and approaches in his/her work.

In addition, the nominee must answer the following ten questions:

1. List your degrees, the institutions from which they were received, and your major area or areas of study.
2. How long and in what programs have you taught blind children?
3. In what setting do you teach? Examples: classroom in school for the blind, special education classroom, itinerant program, etc.
4. How many students do you teach regularly this year? What subjects do you teach them?
5. How many of your students read and write primarily: a) Braille, b) large print, c) closed circuit television, d) recorded materials, e) small print?
6. How many of your students use both print and Braille?
7. At what age do you recommend that your students begin: a) reading Braille, b) writing with a slate and stylus c) writing with a Braille writer?
8. At what age do you recommend that your students begin to learn independent cane travel?
9. How do you determine which children should learn cane travel and which children should not?
10. a) At what age do you recommend that students begin typing? b) When do you expect them to be able to hand in typed assignments?

Send all material by APRIL 15,1989, to:

Sharon Maneki, Chairman
Teacher Award Committee
9736 Basket Ring Road
Columbia, Maryland 21045
Telephone: (301) 992-9608

The education of blind children is one of our most important concerns. Attendance at a National Federation of the Blind Convention will enrich a teacher's experience by affording the opportunity to meet other teachers who work with blind children, to meet parents, and to meet blind adults who have had experiences in a variety of educational programs.

Help us recognize a distinguished teacher by distributing this announcement and encouraging teachers to submit their applications. We are pleased to offer this award and look forward to receiving nominations from many well-qualified educators.

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