Future Reflections Convention 1992, Vol. 11 No. 5



Editor's Note: Reprinted from the August-September, 1992, Braille Monitor.

     Sharon Maneki, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland and Chair of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Selection Committee, presented this award at the 1992 Convention banquet. She said:

     The Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award is a very important award that we in the National Federation of the Blind have established because of our belief and hopes for our children. The most precious gift we have is to improve the future for our children.

     This evening we recognize a woman who is known to many of us because she rings the bell for freedom at every convention she attends by working with parents, be it in the Parents Division, at the IEP workshop, or just sitting down to talk. This woman became involved in special education because of her son Dan. She stayed involved because she cares about the blind children of America. Mrs. Ruby Ryles, will you join me at the podium here? [Applause]

     Mrs. Ruby Ryles was an itinerant teacher in Anchorage, Alaska. She has been a vision consultant at the Arkansas State Department of Education. And when there was no program in the Bellingham School District, she created one in typical Federation spirit. Mrs. Ruby Ryles, the Supervisor of the Bellingham School Vision Program, this evening we present you with a check for $500. [Applause.] And we also present you with a plaque to express our appreciation and recognition of your efforts for our children. Let me read the plaque:

Distinguished Educator of Blind Children
The National Federation of the Blind
Ruby Ryles
Distinguished Educator of Blind Children
For your skill in teaching Braille
and the use of the white cane,
for generously devoting extra time to meet
the needs of your students,
for inspiring your students to perform
beyond their expectations,
and for sharing your wisdom
with your colleagues and parents
across the nation.
July 3, 1992

     Mrs. Ruby Ryles in a few short years will be Dr. Ruby Ryles, and I'm sure that we will be hearing more from this fine lady. [Applause.]

     After Mrs. Ryles accepted her plaque, she said:

     What words can I possibly use to express my gratitude for the greatest honor a teacher could receive? I did not learn to teach blind children from the universities or the professionals, but from the real experts--from you. You taught me the value of sleep shades, early cane use, slate and stylus; and in your characteristic way you cut through the fat of the professional debates in my field and showed me how really simple it is to determine which children need Braille instruction. There is no debate, you taught me. If I am thought of as knowledgeable in the field of education of blind children, it is due to the countless numbers of Federationists who instructed and supported me and became my friends. Mackenstadts, Omvigs, and other NFB faithfuls forever changed the way I taught about and, more important, thought about blindness. My mother used to say, "Choose your friends wisely because you are a little part of each of your friends." I say to you tonight that each of you--every single one of you in the National Federation of the Blind--is not only a part of me, but a part of every child, every family, every professional, and every class I teach. I thank you for taking me in and teaching me how to be an effective teacher. But most of all, I thank you for being my friends. Were she here today, I know my mother would say in the best of her Southern mothering styles, "Ruby Nell, you certainly did choose your friends well, and I told you so." Thank you, friends. [Applause.]