Educators go above and beyond to get braille books at JMS
Cherokee High School Media Specialist Anne Nechvatal, left, and Jasper Middle School Media Specialist Mary Perdue with 6th grader Charlee Ray. Charlee, who is blind, now has dozens of braille books thanks to the efforts of educators in the Cherokee and Pickens school systems.
Jasper Middle School student Charlee Ray was visibly excited as a media specialist from Cherokee County unboxed braille books she’ll now be able to check out from the library.
“This is so awesome,” Charlee said as her fingers ran across the title pages – “A Dog Called Kitty” by Bill Wallace; a historical fiction series about the Titanic; “Fluffy Meets the Tooth Fairy,” and more. “They’re ginormous,” she told the librarians with a big cheshire grin.
Charlee is right. The books are ginormous. Anne Nechvatal, the Cherokee High School Media Specialist who made the delivery, explained that traditional books have to be split into several volumes when they are translated into braille. The tactile writing takes up much more room on a page.
The books found their new home at the JMS campus because three educators went above and beyond to make it happen. JMS Media Specialist Mary Perdue put out a call on a state web forum for the media specialist community. Nechvatal saw the post and got in touch with Ashlee Oxford, Cherokee High’s special education teacher for the vision impaired.
“Ashlee works at the high school now, but has worked in elementary level before and had these books that she wasn’t using,” Nechvatal said. “These are from her own collection.”
Perdue said this is the first time she has worked with braille books in her 18 years as a media specialist, eight of which have been at JMS. After she gets them logged in to the system and they will be ready for Charlee to check out.
“The whole point of this was so she can participate when her class comes to the library and check out books like the other kids,” Perdue said.
Charlee, who was the Grand Marshall at this year’s Fourth of July parade in Jasper, said she likes novels the most. She made her first choice quickly - “Socks,” by Beverly Cleary is the first of many books she will read this year.
“She wants to check out books just like the other kids,” Nechvatal said. “Now she’ll be able to.”