2005 RECORDING FOR THE BLIND & DYSLEXIC® NATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNERS HONORED AT THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Assistant Secretary John Hager welcomes award recipients to Washington, DC
February 10, 2006 (Washington, DC) - Recipients of Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic's 2005 National Achievement Awards (NAA) brought unique stories of their challenges and educational success to the nation's capital today and met with John H. Hager, Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). RFB&D® is the nation's educational library of recorded textbooks for students with visual impairment, dyslexia or other physical disabilities that make reading standard textbooks difficult or impossible.
Each year, RFB&D presents the Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards (SAAs) for college seniors who are blind or visually impaired; and the Marion Huber Learning Through Listening® (LTL®) awards for high school seniors with learning disabilities. The finalists for each award were chosen by two selection committees based on extraordinary scholarship, leadership, enterprise and service to others.
The top three SAA winners, each receiving $6,000, are Kathleen Ernst, Athens, GA, a college graduate at age 39 who is visually impaired and has traveled to Cuba and volunteered at Habitat for Humanity; Scott MacIntyre, Scottsdale, AZ, an accomplished pianist with low vision who was named by USA Today as one of the top 20 collegiate seniors of 2005; and Jessica Smith, Dillon, SC, who is legally blind and finished in the top seven percent of her college graduating class. Jessica, who also has multiple sclerosis, currently works for the federal government's Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS).
The top three winners of the LTL awards are Karen Jenkins, Galena, OH, who graduated high school near the top of her class and currently attends Ohio Northern University; Christine Lowry, Reston, VA, an honors high school graduate now attending the Rochester Institute of Technology; and Philip Wyks, Oradell, NJ, an avid runner who is studying at American University. Each of these exemplary students, who all have dyslexia, will also receive $6,000.
"RFB&D's National Achievement Awards recognize the accomplishments of students who are outstanding role models, not only for people with disabilities, but for all of us who endeavor to reach our full potential as students and as citizens," said John Kelly, RFB&D President & CEO.
Earlier this week, the NAA winners and their families toured the Capitol and met with members of Congress. On February 9, at a reception at the Westin Embassy Row, the award recipients were honored for their achievements. In addition to the celebrations that took place this week, some of the honorees will return for a special visit with first lady Laura Bush at the White House later this month.
Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, John Hager served as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia for a four-year term and later as Virginia's Homeland Security Director. He received national recognition as Chairman of Virginia's Disability Commission and as a role model for Virginians who are disabled. After surviving a near-fatal bout with polio in 1974, Mr. Hager retired from the American Tobacco Company and went on to expand his community service role and political life. Hager earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and his master's degree in business administration from Harvard University. He served in the US Army and the Army Reserves and is a member of the American Legion.
RFB&D serves more than 141,000 students from kindergarten through graduate school and beyond with its one-of-a-kind collection of more than 109,000 educational titles on CD or four-track cassette. RFB&D's AudioPlus® digitally recorded textbooks on CD provide unprecedented navigation, ease of use and proven effectiveness as learning tools for students with print disabilities. Students rely on RFB&D's unique accommodation to access the printed page and to achieve educational success. All of RFB&D's accessible titles are recorded by volunteers working in 29 RFB&D recording studios nationwide.
The mission of the US Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is to provide leadership to achieve full integration and participation in society of people with disabilities by ensuring equal opportunity and access to, and excellence in, education, employment and community living. In implementing this mission, OSERS supports programs that help educate children and youth with disabilities, provides for the rehabilitation of youth and adults with disabilities and supports research to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
EDITORS NOTE: Interview opportunities are available by calling Mark Zustovich at 609-520-7993, or after hours at 609-610-4508.
Pictured, left to right: Philip Wyks,Sr., Barbara Lowry, Laura Wyks, LTL Winner Phillip Wyks, Carol MacIntyre, Douglas MacIntyre, LTL Winner Christine Lowry, Florence Jenkins
seated: John H. Hager, Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS.