2016 Dean W. Tuttle Professional Award Winner Jill Lenihan:
I met a little boy that was blind, and I wasn't working with him, and it just, this passion just came over me, I had to learn braille, and that's how it started, is I had to learn braille. And then when I found out, all these courses, I had no idea. I had no idea there were these courses you could take, and all these different things you can learn, and how much was incorporated in it. And it's just, I love it, I couldn't be more thrilled.
Well I thought I was teaching myself braille first, until I had learned about Hadley, and then I started taking courses through Hadley. And because of the courses, I was able to get the position as an itinerant instructional assistant. Some of my favorite things about working with children with visual impairments specifically is the things I've learned from Hadley, and being able to take them back into the field and to help them become independent, and to take the little tips and things I've learned and watch it be applicable in their lives, and see them be able to be successful on their own, become their own advocates for themselves, and be just like all the other kids, just do things a little differently. It's very rewarding, very rewarding to be a little piece of that puzzle.
And there was a great story of a little girl that's in kindergarten, and I was able to teach her the abacus, and we were able to order it for the whole entire class, and she was able to teach the lesson to the rest of her kindergarten class, so now there is a kindergarten class in California that is all sighted students with one blind student that is learning their math on the abacus.
Hadley is so unique because you can take it at your own time at home, you can go at your own pace at home. You can take a little bit and learn it, and then take it out in the field and test it, and then bring it back online at your own time to then explain how it was applicable or see how it worked, see how it didn't work, and fully learn it and understand what you're learning. And the instructors get right back to you, they help you. They help you like you're right next door, they're like your next door neighbor. Hadley might be a small place in Illinois that is reaching out all over the United States, it's reaching out into small little classrooms everywhere. It's reaching farther than any other institute I know of to touch people's lives, to help them grow, to help them be independent and productive adults when they grow up. Hadley is a place that, if you want to put your money or any efforts into an institution that's going to make a difference, that's going to change the world, Hadley's the place to put it.