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The Journal Gazette

  • Palazzolo

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 1:00 am

The blind leading the grateful

Kindergarten student has plenty to teach

Carol Palazzolo

Carol Palazzolo is an interpreter for the visually impaired at Fort Wayne Community Schools.

I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but this year I think I will try to be a bit more like my blind student.

A few years ago, I wrote something similar when I was working with my first student. That student is now a big, grown-up, wonderful middle school student at the Indiana School for the Blind in Indianapolis. This year, I have a new student who is in kindergarten and, like my former student, teaches me about life. This unique little person amazes me every day.

I thought I would share a little of what I have learned and what I am going to try to incorporate into my life.

My student sees me by the way I speak to her and how I treat her and others. It makes no difference to her that our skin is not the same color. She judges people solely on their speech and their behavior.

My student won't be able to tell that I have gained about 10 pounds over this holiday break. She has no idea what being “fat” or “thin” looks like. She is just happy to be present with me and her schoolmates. Size doesn't matter, but friendship does.

My student gives compliments to everyone. Every day, she tells me my hair is pretty, even though it may be a hot mess. She compliments her classmates and is a great cheerleader for the things her friends accomplish like zipping zippers or spelling words correctly. We all need a cheerleader, I think!

My student assumes that kindness is the norm. She is generally kind to everyone and, in return, others are kind to her. Kindness is vital but often underestimated and undervalued in our daily lives – it does matter.

My student is forgiving. If someone (including me) happens to be grumpy or says something not all that kind, she is willing to forgive and move forward. I have never known her to hold a grudge. God forgives and doesn't hold a grudge. My student reminds me of this all the time.

My student has a sense of humor and we laugh together every day. Laughter is essential for me, and my student makes me laugh and graciously endures my jokes and craziness. Laughter is life!

My student can sense others' emotions. Without the help of sight, my student can somehow tell if someone is sad or upset. She once asked whether one of her classmates who was having a rough morning “had a sad face on” and then proceeded to comfort him and tell him that the day would be OK. The other student had not spoken a word. I need to rely on my heart's sense more and act accordingly.

My student is courageous. She rarely shows fear and is generally willing to try to do the things that scare her. If she is scared, she tells me and I can help her feel more secure. Life for sighted people could be a little easier if we could speak up when we are frightened or feeling insecure. Asking for reassurance is not a bad thing.

My student has faith. Even if she is having an awful day and just wants to be stubborn and all-around naughty, she knows I will still be there with my right elbow ready. Waiting to guide her safely through the day. She walks by faith, not by sight, every day, and I will try to do the same.