(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 08, 2014 10:13 AM
Seven-year-old Ruby Spears was in shock last month when she found out her principal at South Beauregard Lower Elementary, Barbara Newman, had to work throughout the summer.
Spears, a visually-impaired student, attends school for one hour twice a week during the summer to help retain her Braille skills. Newman said one day last month at school, Spears was telling her about her summer vacation plans.
“Ruby asked what I had been doing,” Newman said. “I said, ‘Well, Ruby, I don’t get the summer off. I have to work.’ Then she said, ‘That’s unfair.’ It was so precious.”
What Newman didn’t know was that Spears decided to take the “unfair” matter into her own hands. Spears went back to her class and she and her teacher, Roxanne Buller, wrote a letter in Braille to Beauregard Parish School Board Superintendent Timothy Cooley.
“I had no idea she was going to write a letter,” Newman said. “The letter simply said, ‘Dear Mr. Cooley, Please give Ms. Newman some days off this summer. She works hard.’ ”
Cooley, who said this was the first Braille letter he had ever received from a student, responded and had his letter translated to Braille. He said he thanked Spears for being such a good student and for being concerned for Newman.
Cooley also said he told Spears he would try to give Newman a few days off this summer so that she could enjoy some free time.
“We do appreciate her eagerness and willingness to learn and to make South Beauregard Elementary a positive place for students, and we appreciate her caring for her principal and her school,” he said.
When Spears received his response, she read it to Newman herself. Newman said she was touched by Spears’ concern for her and is amazed by all she can do.
“She is as sharp as a whip, and her senses are so attuned,” Newman said. “She is learning and keeping up with the other students. She is so loved at our school.”
Newman also said she “jumped at the chance” to take a few days off thanks to Spears. She recently returned from a trip to Arkansas and Tennessee.
Both Buller and Newman said that Spears, who will be starting second grade in the fall, has to work harder than most students.
“There is a lot to learn in Braille,” Buller said. “A blind child not only has to learn to read, but also has to learn to read Braille code, which instead of being 26 letters like our alphabet, there are 260 characters that she has to learn.”
Buller said Spears always rises to any challenge and stays academically on grade level.
Buller said she and Spears recently returned from the annual National Federation of the Blind convention in Florida.
“This was Ruby’s first time to attend the convention, and she was very excited,” Buller said. “She swam, participated in everything including all the meetings, a triathlon and a style show, and she made lots of new blind friends. She is one special little girl.”
Posted By: Krystal Guillory On: 7/8/2014
Title: NFB Changes Lives
It was so great to see a Ruby this week and meet her team. She is well on her way to bring successful. It is good to see a child excited about and using Braille! We hope that she will be able to come to our 2015 NFB Bell Program in Ruston, where children are immersed in Braille and blindness skills while meeting lots of other blind children and mentors. Braille Rocks!