[Missouri-l] blind woman earns national teaching award
freespirit52 at charter.net
Wed Aug 11 22:02:57 CDT 2010
Headline: Former Janesville woman honored with national-teaching award
Ginger Lee-Held asks her students to say their names, instead of raising
their hands, when they have questions. She has a seating chart, so she can
easily get to know their voices. And her guide dog sits quietly under her
desk as she teaches middle school.
"My whole classroom runs on mutual respect," Ginger says. "I believe if I
have respect for my students and treat them as individuals, they will treat
me with respect."
Ginger, who graduated from Janesville's Parker High School in 1988, is
being honored in Dallas this week as an outstanding teacher. The National
Federation of the Blind has named her National Blind Educator of the Year.
"It's quite an honor," 40-year-old Ginger of Oshkosh says. "I've worked
really hard in my teaching, and it hasn't always been easy."
John Fritz is president of the Wisconsin affiliate of the National
Federation of the Blind, which nominated Ginger for the award.
"She is a very focused and determined woman," Fritz says. "One of the
things she conveys in her classroom is that, no matter what kind of
obstacles a person may have, there are ways to overcome them and to live
your life. Being blind doesn't stop her from being a successful mother and
The former Ginger Torine is married to Greg Held and has an 8-year-old
daughter. Ginger attended the Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped,
while taking classes in Janesville public schools. She was a full-time
student at Parker during her senior year.
Today, Ginger teaches family and consumer sciences in the Oshkosh School
District and incorporates sewing and cooking into her lessons. Ginger sews
by feeling stitches and placing tape or safety pins on fabric to mark
different pieces. She cooks by listening, smelling and timing.
What she instills goes beyond the academics.
"I am teaching my students acceptance of people with disabilities,"
Ginger says. "I hope after people meet me, they have a positive view of
people who are blind rather than feeling sorry for them."
One of the first things Ginger does when she gets new students is spend a
day teaching them Braille.
"It lets them into my world," she explains. "It gives them an idea of how
I do things."
Ginger is not afraid to share her life.
"My students always know I have a story, whether it is a story about what
my dog did or what my husband did," she says. "I think it helps build
relationships, and it lets them know I am a regular person like they are."
Ginger's principal at Perry Tipler Middle School for the last decade has
been Ann Schultz.
"There are not a lot of people who love 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds,"
Schultz says. "It's a tough age. Ginger is patient but firm with her
students, and she has high expectations. She genuinely cares about all the
Ginger is constantly making adaptations to teach in a world of sighted
people, but she never gets upset about it, Schultz says.
The national award is a welcome affirmation of Ginger's success.
"Sometimes teachers don't get a lot of praise and credit for their work,"
Ginger says. "It sure is nice when an organization says you are doing a good
For the summer 2010 bookshow on WBZ and the latest Books & Beyond, call
773-572-3166 and choose an option from the menu. Feedback is also welcome.
More information about the Missouri-l