By Emma Stone
In Houston, Texas, the largest gathering of blind people took place at the National Federation of the Blind National Convention.
From July 1 to 6, the event premiered training, support and information for the blind community including awards given to those who provide quality education and meaningful experiences and opportunities for their blind students.
Krystal Guillory, Lincoln Parish teacher of blind and visually impaired students, was awarded the Distinguished Educator of Blind Students award.
“I am still very humbled to have received such a prestigious honor,” said Guillory. “I think as teachers, we are always striving to do more for our students and never feel like we’ve done enough.”
After graduating from Louisiana State University with an undergraduate degree in Secondary English Education, Guillory became certified to teach English Language Arts (ELA) for 6th to
12th graders. In 2003, she was asked to teach ELA at the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired in Baton Rouge.
From there, Guillory’s whole world changed.
“I love to teach reading and writing, but a trusted colleague counseled me to go into blindness education, because there are so many English teachers, but so few Braille teachers,” said Guillory. “I haven’t looked back since.”
Currently, Guillory teaches blind/VI students in their home-based schools as an itinerate teacher. She helps to teach expanded core curriculum such as assistive technology and daily living skills while supporting students in all academic classes.
“My goal as an educator is to be a life-long learner, so that I can support my students and their families as much as possible,” said Guillory.
While working full time in Lincoln Parish, Guillory also works in early intervention for ages zero to three at the Louisiana Center for the Blind through Early Steps.
Guillory serves as the NFB BELL Academy State Coordinator for Louisiana in which she helped to write the national curriculum for the NFB BELL Academy that delivered virtual lessons to families across the nation after COVID-19.
“This award means so much to me because the NFB has given so much to me personally,” said Guillory. “As a teacher, it is so impactful for me to see, and personally know, a plethora of competent, blind role models.”
With a long list of growing achievements, Guillory volunteers as the treasurer for the Professionals in Blindness Education, treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana, and the secretary/treasurer for the Louisiana Parents of Blind Children.
“When my students dream of being scientist, musicians, lawyers, teachers, or whatever, I can whole-heartedly support them because we can find someone already doing that job,” said Guillory.
The award included an expense-paid trip to attend the convention, a check for $1,000, a commemorative plaque, a place on the agenda of the annual meeting of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the opportunity to attend seminars and as well as a chance to meet and network.
“I would like to say Pam Allen, Director of the Louisiana Center for the Blind and President of the NFB of Louisiana, has been a huge support for me, my students, and families throughout our state,” said Guillory. “She has never told me no about any need when it comes to our students. She has helped us secure teaching materials and equipment, supported families to come to conventions and provided a means for us to have weekend events.”