Changing Attitudes and Steady Progress
The history of the Arkansas
School for the Blind parallels very closely the history of education
for persons who are visually impaired throughout the world.
Initially, there were no schools for persons who were visually
impaired. The public attitude held that such persons were incapable
of learning or becoming productive members of society. This attitude
was based on the fact that few persons who were visually impaired
lived productive lives. The greatest deterrent to their being able
to do so was the fact that prior to 1840, there was no known system
which would allow people who did not see to read and write.
As knowledge of the Braille
system for reading and writing spread, pioneers struggled to
overcome public attitudes and to establish schools for educating
individuals with visual impairments. The first schools of this type
were often institutions which de-emphasized academics in favor of
music, beadwork, broom making, piano tuning and chair
caning-pursuits which would provide a marginal living upon
completion of the course of study. An indication of the public
attitude toward persons with visual impairments is the fact that
many of the first schools were known as "asylums for the blind."
Increasing awareness of the needs
of visually impaired persons led gradually to the establishment of
schools for the blind in most states, and establishment of the
American Printing House for the Blind which assumed the
responsibility of providing materials in Braille and recorded form.
With the availability of reading materials, the curriculum for most
schools shifted more towards academics; though vocational education
continued to be stressed.
The first schools for the blind
were homes where students and staff lived most of the year. Working
at a school for the blind was a 24-hour-a-day job with staff serving
as parents and teachers. For many years, all students used Braille
as their functional reading media, though many students were
partially sighted and might have read print had they been permitted
to do so. Medical opinion at that time held that attempting to read
print by partially sighted students might "strain their eyes" and
cause total loss of vision. It was not until 1950, that the medical
profession reversed itself on this theory and students who were
partially sighted were taught to read print.
At the beginning of the 20th
century, the greatest problem facing educators of students with
visual impairments was the establishment of a standardized system of
reading and writing for those who use the sense of touch to read.
The impracticability of raised print was recognized by this time.
However two systems, "Braille," and "New York Point," had emerged as
viable systems for reading using touch. Both employed dots which
could be felt, but the combinations employed to represent letters
were completely different. Both systems showed promise and each
system had its proponents. For obvious reasons it was necessary to
agree on one system for reading and writing. The issue was debated
fiercely for nearly 20 years before educators finally selected
Braille as the dot system to use. After this decision was reached,
debate continued over the issue of developing a standardized code of
Braille symbols which would be employed in the embossing of Braille
The period between 1940 and 1960
was a time of tremendous changes and improvements in schools for the
blind. Colleges and universities began offering courses in
methodology for teaching individuals with visual impairments.
Courses in Braille, medical aspects of blindness and orientation
and mobility were added to college curricula and many schools of
higher learning developed a course of study leading to the
certification of teachers of the visually impaired. Graduates of
these schools had an immediate impact at the schools which employed
them. Curricula at schools for the blind were broadened to include
orientation and mobility, and greater efforts were made to teach
social skills. The faculties of most schools for the blind were now
made up of certified personnel who were steeped in modern
instructional techniques. Athletic competition with other schools
for the blind began during the next era of change in the education
of visually impaired persons occurred as a result of the passage of
federal law 94-142 which shifted responsibility for the education of
persons who were visually impaired to local school districts and
mandated the development of Individual Education Plans to address
individual needs. The first change to schools for the blind was a
reduction in student enrollment as more students attended public
school. With fewer students, teachers at schools for the blind could
offer more individualized instruction. Also, schools were able to
employ more specialized teachers to provide more intensive
instruction in mobility, Braille, technology and social skills.
Finally, more money became available for purchasing the latest in
adaptive technology for visually impaired persons. As schools enter
the 21st century, the use of technology has increased greatly.
Adaptive technology has provided persons who are visually impaired
access to the informational highway (the internet) and has made the
attainment of a first-rate education a reality.
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Brief History of The Arkansas School for the Blind
The first organized effort to
educate the blind in Arkansas was started at Clarksville in 1850 by
Reverend James Chaplain, a blind Methodist minister. However, after
a year of tiresome effort with no support and little encouragement
from the general public, the school was discontinued.
In 1858, Reverend Haucke, a
Baptist minister who was blind and who was interested in the
education of the blind, opened a school at Arkadelphia known as the
"Institute for the Education of the Blind". The following year, in
1859, the institute was incorporated and a board of trustees
appointed by Governor Conway. The school was supported by private
contributions until the legislature of 1861 made an appropriation.
In October of 1859 Otis Patten,
who was blind and who had taught at the Kentucky Institute for the
Blind for eleven years, became superintendent of the school.
He remained superintendent until
March 1885, some 26 years.
By the fall of 1860, there were
10 pupils in the school. Of these, more than half were orphans or
half orphans, and only one was able to pay for board or tuition. In
addition to literary instruction, the boys were taught to make
brooms, brushes, and mattresses, and the girls were taught to do
sewing, knitting, and bead work. Some of the pupils were instructed
in piano and violin.
Professor Patten made an appeal
to the legislature for financial support of the institution so that
all blind children in the State, regardless of financial status,
could be educated and instructed in a trade, thereby providing for a
"life of joyous activity and usefulness." But even though the
trustees supported Patten's theory of educating blind children,
still they looked upon the institution as a place for the
maintenance and care of the blind and especially the blind orphans.
This attitude is reflected in the 1860 report of the trustees and
superintendent when the trustees asked that the institution be
placed under the fostering care of the State. The following is a
partial quotation of the trustees' request:
"...We appeal to you, not-for
ourselves-not for any advantage which we can possibly derive from
your assistance; but for help to those, who, without your help
must grope their way in cheerless darkness, until death shall
relieve them from an irksome, and dreary existence ......"
The legislature, beginning in
1861, did make a modest appropriation for the support of the
institution. However, several years passed before pupils were no
longer required to either obtain a certificate of poverty from the
County Judge in their area or pay their own way.
In 1863, a young man named Thomas
B. Parks, who lost his eyesight from a gunshot wound at the battle
of Shiloh in the Civil War, was discharged from the institution
after having been instructed in broom making. When later heard from,
he was making brooms in Hot Springs County.
In September of 1863, the
trustees authorized Professor Patten to close the institution
because of the unsettled condition of the country brought about by
the Civil War. The pupils were sent home, the rented property was
relinquished, and the furniture and equipment were sold to pay the
debts of the school. Professor Patten returned to the Kentucky
Institute to accept a temporary position in order to provide for his
family. Upon the request of the trustees, he did not resign as
superintendent and agreed to either resume his labors or aid in the
reopening of the institution.
After a restoration of law and
order, the school was reopened at Arkadelphia in February 1867 in a
house known as the residence of the late Dr. James K. Rogers. This
property was purchased by the State and consisted of a large 1-story
frame house with 10 rooms and approximately six acres of land
situated on a high bluff overlooking the Ouachita River. The
property was held until the close of the school year in the spring
of 1868 when it was donated to the City of Arkadelphia and the
school was moved to Little Rock.
The school opened for the first
time in Little Rock In the fall of 1868, at a site known as
"Rosewood, " a short distance south of Fort Steel. This 15-acre site
was leased from a Mrs. William Savin Fulton as a temporary location
for the school until a permanent building could be built on an
adjoining 7 acres.
In May of 1869, Major Samuel
McCormick contracted to build a 3-story, brick building with
dimensions of 40 feet by 50 feet. This new brick building, named for
Colonel Gray, and 4 frame buildings were put up as a sort of
appendage to a main edifice designed to stand at the head of Center
In March of 1874, Professor
Patten learned that the parcel of ground lying between the institute
premises and Louisiana Street on the east and extending from 18th
street to 19th street had come into market after having been in
litigation. He also learned that someone had already bought the lot
at the corner of 18th and Louisiana Streets and had plans for a
building. Realizing that the grounds of the institution would be
greatly injured if this lot fell into the hands of other parties and
since the trustees had neither the authority nor the means to
purchase this tract, Professor Patten found 5 men willing to
purchase the property and hold it until the next meeting of the
legislature could bring about an appropriation to secure the
property for the institution.
In 1877, by act of the
legislature, the name of the school was changed to "The Arkansas
School for the Blind".
The foundation was laid for the
school building at the head of Center Street In 1885. The corner
stone -was placed with appropriate Masonic ceremonies, with The
Honorable W. H. H. Clayton officiating as Grand Master. C. W. Clark
was Building Contractor, and Ben J. Bartlett was Architect.
Music was an important component
of the curriculum from the very beginning and its importance to the
overall program was cemented when Professor Emile Trebing, a
graduate of the Kentucky School for the Blind, was elected principal
music teacher in 1888. The curriculum he offered in the Music
Department at the school enabled his students to receive training
equivalent to that usually offered at the college level. With
the exception of the 2 years that he studied music at the Cincinnati
Conservatory, he was Director of the Music Department until his
death in the summer of 1940.
Professor Trebing is described by
students and co-workers as kind, patient, jolly and energetic. He
was loved by students for his friendly and even-tempered disposition
and for his dedication. He taught advanced students to play piano,
organ, violin, brass and woodwind instruments. Advanced students
were instructed in music theory as well. Professor Trebing was a
brilliant musician, who excelled in playing piano, organ and all the
other instruments which he taught students to play. He accompanied
the choir and composed music for his students to perform at concerts
which were held frequently for the public. Two of his compositions
for choral groups which have endured are "The Christmas Round" and
"National Airs" which have been performed by students of the school
over the years.
After his marriage to Annie
Harvey, who was a fine musician in her own right, He and his wife
were very active in the community. He was organist at First
Presbyterian Church in Little Rock for many years. The Trebings
secured funding to build the "Trebing Home," a residence for blind
women,-a facility which served to meet a need which was acute at
that time. They were also instrumental in the forming of the
Arkansas State Association of the Blind which was a support group
for ASB graduates. Later the name was changed to the Arkansas School
for the Blind Alumni Association. The association functions today as
an ASB support group and meets annually in early June.
In 1904, a pipe organ was
installed in the chapel of the school at a cost of $4,000. When
installing this organ, it was necessary to reinforce the stage in
order for it to bear the weight. At first the organ was powered by
water, then by air pressure, and later by electricity. It made the
journey to the West Markham Street site in 1939 and then was moved
to the Woolly Fine Arts Center on campus in 1978 and completely
rebuilt at a cost of $36,000. In 1914, a 9-foot concert grand piano
was purchased for the stage in the auditorium. This piano is on the
stage in the Woolly Fine Arts Center also.
The Arkansas State Association
for the Blind was organized in June 1919, and Miss Amanda Moore was
elected President. The purposes of this organization were to promote
in every feasible way, the educational, vocational, social, and
general welfare of the blind and to create a loan fund to assist the
worthy and capable blind in their various pursuits. This
organization is now functioning under the name "Arkansas School for
the Blind Alumni Association" and is the oldest organization of the
blind in Arkansas.
In 1939, the Association loaned
Earley Busby $100 to open a vending stand in the Arkansas Printing &
Lithographic Building located at 10th and Center Streets. This
vending facility was the first location in Arkansas to come into the
organized Vending Stand Program.
In the 1930's, plans were
formulated to build a new school for the blind on West Markham
Street. Apparently, the reasons for building the new school were
that state officials were interested in acquiring the land at the
current location on Center Street; land owned by the state was
available on the Markham Street site immediately adjacent to the
Arkansas School for the Deaf; and additional classroom space could
be provided at the new location.
At 2:00 p.m. on October 9, 1939,
the cornerstone was placed at the new Arkansas School for the Blind
plant on West Markham Street by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, F. & A.
M., with Acting Grand Master C. Eugene Smith, Jr., directing the
Masonic ceremony. A teacher from the Arkansas School for the Deaf
interpreted the ceremony in sign language. Immediately following
this ceremony was the formal dedication held in the school
auditorium. The dedication ceremony began with a number rendered on
the pipe organ by Professor Emile Trebing followed by an address by
State Commissioner of Education T. H. Alfred. Governor Bailey then
introduced the principle speaker, Miss Helen Keller, an
internationally known blind educator who, being both deaf and blind,
told of her discovery of the world into which she was born. Miss
Keller was accompanied by her constant companion and secretary, Miss
Polly Thompson. The day's activities ended with an open house. The
formal name of what is commonly referred to as the "Main Building"
is the "Helen Keller Memorial Building". This building and the ones
directly behind it were built as a WPA project.
Dr. J. M. Woolly came to the
school as principal and math teacher in the fall of 1939 and was
appointed superintendent in 1947. He was effective in transforming
The Arkansas School for the Blind into one of the leading schools of
its kind in the nation. He broadened the curriculum, worked with
colleges and universities to establish courses for teacher
certification. He employed certified teachers, secured funding for a
building program to modernize facilities and worked long hours
micro-managing the total program to bring about his vision of a
modern, progressive school.
The two decades between 1940 and
1960 saw the development of an athletic program and the beginning of
athletic competition with other schools for the blind. ASB students
competed in wrestling and track. Athletic teams first adopted the
name of "Bronco Busters." They became the "Tornados" around 1952.
Wishing to adopt a name that was indigenous to Arkansas, a committee
of students and faculty selected the Titan Missile as the team name
in 1963. ASB athletes were Titans until the Titan Missile became
obsolete in the 1980's. The lion is now the official ASB mascot.
Training in orientation and
mobility was begun, and a greater emphasis was placed on the use of
research to improve instruction. ASB was at the forefront in
experimenting with new theories to better meet the needs of its
Students at ASB used Braille
exclusively during the first hundred years of the school’s
existence. Operating under the accepted medical opinion that reading
print by partially-sighted students might result in total loss of
vision, teachers took necessary steps to prevent students with
vision from reading print or looking at Braille dots. Aprons were
used to cover students hands on the Braille book, and blindfolds
were sometimes employed. In the 1950's, large print textbooks in
18-point type became available on all grade levels, and those with
vision were instructed in print.
For the most part, those who read
print and those who used Braille were grouped together. Teachers
taught both media in the same classroom. If a student required more
intensive instruction in print or in Braille, he would spend a
period or more a week with a resource teacher.
In 1949, Ved Mehta, a student in
India who was visually impaired and anxious to further his education,
applied for admission to many of the leading schools for the blind in the United States. His desire for an education was achieved when
Mr. Woolly received special permission from government officials to
accept his application. Ved graduated from ASB in 1952. After
graduation, he attended college and later wrote a book entitled
"Face to Face" which described his experiences at the Arkansas
School for the Blind. Today Ved is a successful writer who has
published numerous articles on a variety of subjects.
The decade of the 1970's was a
time of reorganization at the school, and new buildings were
constructed at a cost of approximately $4,000,000. A vocational
program was implemented in 1971 to offer better opportunities for
vocational choice and training.
Federal Act 94-142 became law in
1975. This law assigned responsibility for the education of students
with visual impairments to the local school districts. As a result,
more students with visual impairments enrolled in the public school
system. In 1978 ASB began to provide area visual services to
children attending Arkansas' public schools who were blind or visually impaired
As the student enrollment
decreased in the late 80's and 90's, the emphasis at the Arkansas School for the Blind
continued to focus on developing comprehensive individual education plans (IEP’s)
to identify specific needs of students and address those needs with
more intensive instruction. Small pupil-teacher ratios resulted
in more individualized instruction and more specialization by staff
members. As the school enters the 21st century, greater
emphasis on technology is having a positive effect on the
educational program as students are provided access to a wealth of
information heretofore unavailable to them. The Arkansas School for
the Blind has completed almost a century and a half of service to
the visually impaired children of Arkansas. Continued reliance on
research and support on the part of Arkansas governmental officials
insures that the school will continue to provide a quality education
and opportunities for its students which they might otherwise miss.
The decade of the 90's and the early 21st century
has seen numerous new programs started under the guidance of
Superintendent Jim Hill. These programs include the start of the
Birth to Three-year-old infant educational program. ASB is proud to
serve infants and toddlers throughout the state of Arkansas. This
program grew rapidly and now serves students throughout the state.
Also during this time the enrollment stabilized and is now showing a
Numerous technology enhancements occurred with the
support of Mr. Hill allowing ASB to offer state of the art
programming to their students. With the addition of Distance
Learning options, ASB began to offer a multitude of courses to its
students that previously could not be offered. A state of the art
wireless network now allows the students access to important
information at their desktop through the use of laptop computers. As
we continue on, ASB will continue to seek out new technologies that
will enhance the educational experience of the students.
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Many significant people have made
contributions to the development of the Arkansas School for the
Blind into one of the best schools of its type in the nation. Below
is a list of some individuals who were prominent in the history of
Otis Patten was the first
superintendent at ASB. he worked tirelessly to overcome public
apathy and to secure funding and land for the first school for the
blind in Arkansas.
Professor Emile Trebing:
Trebing was a highly-gifted, partially sighted instructor of music
who taught piano, organ, strings woodwinds and music theory at ASB
for 52 years. He was a talented musician who could play many
instruments with great skill. Students describe "Professor" as a
big, jolly, lovable teddy bear. He possessed an extraordinary ear
for music. Those who knew him well say that he could play a piece of
music immediately after hearing it played for the first time or
after the music was read to him.
He and his wife were very active
in the community. Professor Trebing was the organist at First
Presbyterian Church in Little Rock for many years. Mr. and Ms.
Trebing secured funding for a residence for blind women (The Trebing
Home) at a time when the need for such a facility was acute. They
were also largely responsible for the founding of the Association
for the Blind which became the ASB Alumni Association.
James Max Woolly:
Mr. J. M. Woolly came to ASB in
1939 as principal and was appointed to the position of
superintendent in 1947. Under his guidance, the school was
transformed in to one of the leading schools for the blind in the
nation. During his 44-year tenure, the curriculum was modified to
place greater emphasis on academics and development of social
skills. J. M. Woolly was able to secure funding for several new
buildings which were constructed on the ASB campus. These included
Shults House, Prewitt Hall, The Smith Vocational Building, The
Hartman Gymnasium, The Learning Center, the superintendent's
residence and the Woolly Fine Arts Building.
Mr. Woolly accomplished these
dramatic improvements by working 16-hour days and by recruiting and
employing a highly-qualified work force which shared his enthusiasm
and dedication and whole-heartedly responded to his leadership.
Mr. Woolly was directly involved
in every aspect of the program at ASB. He drove the school bus,
officiated at athletic events, oversaw curriculum development and
supervised the teaching, home life and maintenance staffs. It was
not unusual to observe him performing a maintenance task or picking
up trash around the buildings.
J. M. Woolly was active in
national organizations which worked towards improving education for
visually impaired persons. In 1978, Dr. Woolly was awarded the Migel
Medal by the American Foundation for the Blind for his outstanding
contributions in the field of education. The contributions made by
Mr. Woolly in the field of education of the visually impaired have
made a vast difference in the lives of generations of students who
attended ASB, and he is loved and respected by those who worked
under his supervision or benefited from his work.
John Ed Chiles:
John Ed Chiles graduated from ASB
in 1943, earned a degree in history and political science from
Hendrix College, and completed graduate studies at Vanderbilt
University before returning to ASB as secondary social studies
teacher. During his thirty-seven years at the school, John Ed
impacted the lives of hundreds of boys and girls. In his classroom
social studies came alive and became meaningful to students who,
heretofore, had given little serious thought to geography or history
and who cared little for world affairs. Mr. Chiles commanded the
respect of students and was able to motivate students to achieve at
a higher level than they thought possible.
John Ed served a
highly-successful stint as principal from 1956 until 1963,
performing a duel role as he continued teaching some social studies
classes. He demonstrated superior organizational skills and was
respected by teachers and students for his fairness, his objectivity
and his willingness to listen. However, his great love was teaching;
and in 1963 he was permitted to return to the classroom full time.
John Ed sponsored many class
parties, called square dances for the square dance club and
organized the ASB Student Council in the early 1950's. He served as
student council sponsor until his retirement in 1985.
Mr. "C.," as he was
affectionately known, was a symbol of academic excellence at ASB for
37 years. He was a teacher and a friend to many students. Their
great respect for Mr. Chiles served to insure that students
remembered who was teacher and who was student. He was generous with
his time, spending many hours after school and on weekends with his
students whose company he sincerely enjoyed. It was a common sight
to see John Ed with a group of students on a Saturday morning
discussing world affairs or yesterday’s world series game, listening
to classical music or the latest rock and roll hit as he shared his
large record collection or playing horse in the swimming pool.
Students found it refreshing and unusual to find a friend among the
faculty who could enjoy with equal fervor a Beethoven symphony and
the latest hit by the Dave Clark five.
After graduation, many students
remained friends with Mr. Chiles and continued to call him or
correspond with him for advice or encouragement. Mr. Chiles served
as a model to generations of students- a reminder as to what could
be achieved by a person with a visual impairment who was determined
and applied himself. John Ed Chiles did not promote such a role for
himself. He was delegated that role by the students who loved and
respected him and who were buoyed by his encouragement and
Eula Shults taught home economics
to girls in grades 7-12 from 1940 until her retirement in 1970. Ms.
Shults possessed enormous patience, sincerity, great kindness and a
tireless work ethic. Eula Shults served as the "Emily Post" of ASB.
It was she who defined what was correct in social behavior and table
etiquette; and in instances where there might be disagreement among
faculty members, she cast the deciding vote. Ms. Shults was highly
respected by boys and girls alike; who (in the words of Mark Twain)
"never needed to be reminded to mind their manners when she was
around." She was not as popular as some faculty members among
students. That fact was of no concern to Eula Shults. She did not
seek popularity. Her one goal, which she pursued constantly and with
vigor, was that girls become independent home makers, and that all
students learn proper etiquette and learn to behave as ladies and
gentlemen in order to assume responsible social positions upon
graduation from ASB. Ms Shults designed Shults House which stands in
front of the Administration Building. The building was completed in
1970 and dedicated in her honor just prior to her death.
Oliver Wendell Holmes:
W. Holmes arrived at ASB in 1958 and functioned in the duel role of
industrial arts instructor and senior-high boys houseparent, and for
22 years defined the male role for countless boys who were often
from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. From this kind, sensitive,
caring, gentle, soft-spoken man, boys learned that boastfulness,
vulgarity, violence and boorish behavior did not make a person a
man-that it was manly to be courteous, quiet and respectful of
O. W. Holmes patiently stressed
cleanliness to boys who had received little instruction or
encouragement in practicing good hygiene. In his industrial arts
classes, he stressed safety and conscientiously observed students
working until they demonstrated to his satisfaction that they
understood and would practice rules of safety. There was never an
incident of a student’s being injured while Mr. Holmes taught at ASB.
Wendell Holmes exhibited the
highest respect for his students. His methods were unique and rare.
He seldom laid down rules or told students what they could or could
not do. His dialog with students included phrases such as: "you
might want to," "You probably will want to," or "I don't think you
would want to" . . . Mr. Holmes operated under the theory that
people inherently want to do the right thing. His task, as he saw
it, was to convey to students in a respectful and non-threatening
manner what was proper and desirable. Though he encouraged students
to better themselves, he never made comments which were belittling
or which would cast dispersions on students' families.
He was wily and subtle in his
approach and could state an opinion without students being aware
that he was doing so. Implicit in Mr. Holmes' lessons was this
message: "This is something which any decent, well-bred,
intelligent, responsible person would do. Since you are obviously
decent, well-bred, intelligent and responsible, I'm sure that you
will want to do it too." His approach was successful because his
respect for others was genuine.
Mr. Holmes' devotion to his
family did not prevent him from spending countless hours with ASB
students watching football games, reading to them from the newspaper
and discussing world affairs. He enjoyed explaining football plays
and formations to students, and was an avid Razorback fan. He was a
mentor, a friend and a father figure for many boys who are grateful
and fortunate that he touched their lives.
Runyan Eugene Hartman:
R. E. Hartman: was employed at ASB
from 1945 until his death in 1973. Mr. Hartman was something of a
renaissance man. He served as physical education instructor for
elementary and secondary students, coached wrestling and track and
taught piano tuning and repair to secondary students. Though
partially sighted, Coach Hartman was a gifted amateur photographer
who developed pictures in his dark room at home. He played classical
guitar and possessed a beautiful singing voice.
R. E. Hartman established
wrestling and track as viable sports for students with visual
impairments and promoted them in other schools for the blind. He
stressed physical fitness and set an example for his students to
follow. Coach Hartman's athletic teams achieved many successes over
the years. In 1956, ASB wrestlers finished first among thirteen
competitive teams in a tournament of schools for the blind.
However, it was as a physical
education teacher that Mr. Hartman demonstrated his true brilliance.
His well-rounded curriculum featured physical fitness, gymnastics,
swimming and games specially designed to teach cooperation,
sportsmanship and full participation by all students. Coach Hartman
possessed an uncanny ability to judge how well each student could
see and to understand the unique characteristics of each students'
particular eye condition. He was able to design games which would
force students to make maximum use of their vision. Mr. Hartman's
games were so ingeniously designed that students with varying
degrees of vision loss could compete on an equal footing. His games
always included special rules which assured that students who were
totally blind would play a meaningful part in the game. The result
was that Hartman's games were fair and demanding, and students
responded with enthusiasm and fierce competitiveness. Students with
some vision learned to use that vision more effectively. Students
who were totally blind learned to rely on hearing. All students
under Mr. Hartman's tutelage learned sportsmanship and cooperation;
and experienced the joy and pride which comes from being physically
fit and competent.
Myrtis Jones was energetic, determined, plain-spoken and
strong-willed. She arrived at ASB in 1959 and needed these traits to
complete her many accomplishments. Though her tenure at the school
was relatively brief, (fifteen years) she impacted the educational
program and the lives of students as much as any person who ever
graced the campus. She was the first certified librarian to be
employed at the Arkansas School for the Blind.
Upon her arrival, she found a
large, disorganized collection of books shelved in no particular
order and according to no logical system. Scattered throughout the
clutter were books written in raised print and in "New York Point"
formats. These were reading systems for visually impaired persons
which had long ago been discontinued in favor of Braille. Ms. Jones
understood clearly what had to be done, and she worked long hours,
often late into the night to set things right. She established the
Dewey Decimal System and organized the book collection. She labeled
shelves in large print and Braille, and discarded those books which
were of no use to teachers or students. Though she was told
repeatedly that it couldn't be done, Myrtis Jones created the first
duel-media card catalog with over-sized index cards containing
information in Braille on one side and information in large print on
the opposite side.
To accomplish these tasks she
enlisted the help of students who performed for Ms. Jones without
any understanding as to why the work was necessary. Some of the
tasks were immensely enjoyable for students. Throwing discarded
books out the window, for example, was an activity which had never
been sanctioned by an adult. Brailling and filing cards for the card
catalog was a tedious task not relished by students.
Ms. Jones had a keen appreciation
for history. She discarded that which had no value and saved those
things which were significant in the history of education for the
visually impaired or to the history of ASB. she created special
displays which exhibited these items.
When she arrived, Myrtis Jones
could not read Braille, though she soon learned the Braille code.
She had never taught visually impaired students. However, Ms. Jones
was one of a very few people who sincerely believed that individuals
who were visually impaired could do anything which they wanted to
do; and she manifested this attitude with such assurance that
students were compelled to accept her convictions. Students in the
Library Club, which she established immediately upon her arrival,
always assumed leadership roles at local and state library
conventions, campaigning for office, serving on committees,
providing entertainment and serving as facilitators. In the early
1960's students in the ASB Library Club organized and hosted the
state convention, with Myrtis Jones hovering in the background as
was her custom. When one of her protégées achieved success, Ms.
Jones did not respond with praise. Her words were more often, "Of
course, why not? If others can do it, you can also."
On one occasion, when key
personnel from some schools failed to show up at a state convention,
ASB students salvaged the convention, facilitating meetings,
providing the keynote speaker and the entertainment. Ms. Jones sat
smugly among the librarians in attendance, as was her custom, with
just a trace of a smile concealing her pride as best she could. The
pride she felt was not in the fact that her students could function
thus, she had known that from the beginning; rather, it came from
the realization that after years of encouraging, pushing and
nagging, her students possessed this knowledge as well.
Miss Rose Mary
Miss Rose Fussell attended ASB in the decade
between 1910 and 1920 where she studied music under Professor Trebing. She was an excellent pianist and could play most any song
which she heard by ear. However, there were few opportunities for
persons who were blind to work at that time; so after graduating in
1920, Miss Rose returned to Cotton Plant, Arkansas where she had
grown up and lived for a time with her brother.
In 1929, she secured a position as “office girl”
at ASB, but a year later when a new superintendent was employed, she
learned that her position was being eliminated, and she went back to
Cotton Plant to her brother’s home. Miss Rose played piano for a
time at the local theater. She persuaded the principal at the local
high school to allow her to direct the student choral group, and
succeeded in winning a state competition. The group performed
“National Airs” at the competition, a composition written by her
high school music teacher, Professor Trebing.
In 1939, Miss Rose was employed by the new
Superintendent to serve as a houseparent for girls and to teach
music to Kindergarten and primary students. Miss Rose loved the
children and she loved teaching. She taught her rhythm band
students five days a week for 28 years. No one can remember Miss
Rose’s missing a day of work. She composed little songs for her
students to perform and taught them the basics of rhythm and meter.
Later she began teaching her students to play flute-a-phones, and
her students performed annually in Christmas programs for proud and
In addition to her rhythm band instruction, Miss
Rose taught beginning piano students and was responsible for
teaching all Braille users to read Braille music. Generations of
talented music students owed their success in large measure to Miss
Rose, who provided them with a sound music foundation. She had a
big heart, often spending a portion of her meager earnings to help
needy students. Her gifts to students were given anonymously. The
beneficiaries of her generosity were never made aware from whence
the money came; and Miss Rose never received the expressions of
gratitude which would have certainly been forth coming.
Miss Rose was
a hardy, determined pioneer at a time when opportunities for persons
who were blind were very few. She was a cheerful, loving,
proud, determined and independent person who asked for little and made the
best of opportunities which were available. Those young people
whose lives she touched were grateful and fortunate for having known
Miss Rose Fussell
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ASB Alma Mater
As revised in 1973
Words by Other Brown and Ken Bruton
Music by Raymond Sykes
Hail to thee oh ASB,
Our heads bow down before you;
Great numbers shall thy glory see,
For those you've known adore you.
Though we attain life's highest goal,
As one we all agree:
We'll be as in the days of old,
Thy students ASB.
From the 1930'S
(Sung to the music of "Washington and Lee Swing"
For dear old ASB we'll fall in line;
We're gonna strut our stuff another time;
We're gonna Yelll Yell! Yell! Yell! Yell! Yell! Yell!
For dear old ASB we'll yell -- we're gonna yell.
Our colors, purple and gold, mean victory,
And our good name will live in history;
We're gonna boost ASB to the top on the square;
Rah! Rah! Rah!
From the 1970's
(Sung to the music of "California, here I come")
Oklahoma (opponent) here we come.
Arkansas is where we're from.
We'll pin you; we'll beat you; We'll win the Match.
We'll romp you; We'll stomp you; We will make you wish you'd never
met a Titan team this strong,
As we sing our victory song.
We'll use your heads to beat our drums!
Oklahoma, here we come!