Braille Institute has named Melinda Demaris the 2022 “Teacher of the Year” for Excellence in Braille Instruction. Demaris was selected for her exceptional career working with students who are visually impaired for the past 20 years, her leadership outside of the classroom, and her tireless advocacy of students.
Demaris has been with the Wicomico County Public Schools in Salisbury, Maryland for more than 20 years. She is a certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVI) and an Orientation and Mobility specialist. She works with students across all grade levels who have visual impairments. “Mindy cares deeply about her students and her role as a teacher. During the past two years of the pandemic, she not only worked with her students to keep pace with their education, but went above and beyond resulting in her students placing above grade level,” said Calli Pettit, a fifth-grade teacher at Glen Avenue Elementary School and colleague of Demaris.
Demaris is also a leader in the field and serves on the Maryland State Steering Committee. She was also the 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award from the National Federation of the Blind in Maryland. “I want to thank Braille Institute for this honor, and it is a privilege to be recognized for something I love doing,” said Demaris.
Demaris holds a Master of Special Education from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a Bachelor of Music Education, Instrumental and Music Therapy concentrations from Temple University. She also holds a ACVREP Orientation and Mobility certification and a Maryland State certification as a TVI from the University of Louisville.
Each year, Braille Institute recognizes Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVIs) for their hard work, dedication, and innovation. The organization’s Braille Challenge National Advisory Committee, which is made up of leaders in the field, names a Teacher of the Year who stands out for their contributions. The award is an opportunity for all TSVIs to be celebrated on a national level for the work they do with blind or visually impaired students. Any TSVI in the United States or Canada is eligible and can be nominated by peers, students, or others.
This award is part of Braille Institute’s Braille Challenge® program, the only academic competition of its kind in North America and the United Kingdom for students who are blind or visually impaired, which highlights the importance of braille literacy skills. For more information on Braille Challenge visit www.braillechallenge.org.