Teacher’s Passion Inspires Students at Jagriti School for Blind Girls in India
Sunanda Yeshwanth Kale helps students succeed at reading and life
Most of us can recall a favorite teacher who inspired us to study hard, overcome challenges, and do our best. One teacher who exemplifies this attitude is Sunanda Yeshwanth Kale, a teacher of the visually impaired at Jagriti School for Blind Girls in Alandi Devachi in Pune, India. This school is one of four partner schools involved in the All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development project. The other schools that are employing technology-based solutions to improve child literacy are: Kothrud Girls School, Koregaon Boys School, and Bhosari Boys School.
At age five, Sunanda lost her sight due to an unfortunate illness. She completed her primary education (through 10th grade) at Kothrud Blind School for Girls in Pune. Then she moved back to her village, Shevgaon, in the Ahmednagar District in Maharashtra, where she continued her secondary education (11th and 12th grades). As soon as she completed the secondary education, she joined the teaching staff at the National Federation of the Blind Maharashtra (NFBM) Jagriti School for Blind Girls. She was the first teacher appointed in 1989 when the school started.
In 1991, her passion for teaching led her to pursue additional education and complete her teacher training. She loves teaching children and enjoys her job immensely. She is a person of strong willpower who encourages her students to face all challenges and study diligently.
What are some of the day-to-day challenges she faces when teaching? Says Sunanda, “Every child has a different learning speed and ability, some lose interest easily, many have to start from scratch, and some of them are not so sensitive to touch.” Fortunately, she has a firsthand understanding of these problems faced by the students, and as a result, her teaching approach is well defined and deals with every student in an effective manner.
Sunanda uses slates and braille books to teach reading. In addition, 125 human-narrated Marathi books and 366 Tamil books have been recorded and are available in Bookshare for students to download onto their DAISY players. “The DAISY devices provided by Bookshare have helped the students to improve their reading speed and also helped them retain their interest in reading the books. They love listening to these stories on the devices, especially the books being played in their mother tongue,” says Sunanda.
Sunanda hopes that the project will convert more stories to Marathi to help the children maintain their interest in reading. A “Story Auntie” comes into each class once a week to lead the students in a reading activity. Sunanda hopes the frequency can be increased to at least twice a week. She also tries to include fifteen minutes of independent reading each day, or as often as the class schedule permits.
The students are fortunate to have such a dedicated and talented teacher as Sunanda who is working diligently to improve reading outcomes for learners with disabilities.