Naima Hall

New York City Department of Education Educational Vision Services, New York NY

Explore French historic sites attributed to the inventor Louis Braille and investigate French-inspired multisensory, experiential learning opportunities that promote the state curriculum, the Expanded Core Curriculum and connectedness to the life and times of Louis Braille in an effort to support education for the blind and visually impaired.

Where I've Been

  • Avignon, France
  • Cassis, France
  • Cavaillon, France
  • Coupvray, France
  • Eze, France
  • Gorges du Verdon, France
  • Grasse, France
  • Luberon, France
  • Monaco, France
  • Nice, France
  • Paris, France

My Fellowship in Images

Curator of the Louis Braille Museum in Coupvrey, France. To this gentleman, I owe so much for taking the time to sit, talk and show archived samples and teach me the chronology and evolution of modern Braille and methods of embossing.
The most heartfelt and touching experience of my fellowship was visiting the burial place of Louis Braille's hands near his beloved home in Coupvray. His primary remains were exhumed 100 years after his burial and reside in the Pantheon, Paris.
Though most famously known for inventing the Braille Code, decapoint was also invented by Louis Braille in 1839.
Manager at the world famous Savon de Marseille soap production facility teaching us of the importance of pure ingredients, the traditional way the soap has been made and advances in it's 600 years of production. Inspiration for ECC.
Tour Guide of the World Famous Galimard Parfumery 1747. A memorable olfactory workshop in which we created individualized scents- an exercise which can be modified and duplicated stateside with students.
This truffle merchant provided a workshop explaining how he and his dog excavate "diamonds of the kitchen" in the countryside and make a life selling them at the market. An amazing personal experience and culinary treat to share with students.

Your Personal and Professional Growth

How have your knowledge, skills and capabilities grown?

While on an archive expedition of Louis Braille's home, I was able to view samples of the earliest versions of embossed writing tools and styles for individuals with blindness. I was also taught about the various embossing codes that preceded Braille and additional - little known - inventions created by Louis Braille. The curator had strong knowledge of incidental historical facts related to early embossing and helped me understand the framework, history and evolution of contemporary braille.

As a result, in what ways will your instructional practice change?

This experience helped me to better understand the benefits of drawing on artifacts to present a teaching point when working with students with blindness. I am excited about bringing more lessons about historical figures, culture and geographical regions to life through multisensory teaching approaches with the introduction of commodities, cuisine and objects to help promote a high interest approach to curriculum and content that benefits all learners.

What is the greatest personal accomplishment of your fellowship?

My greatest personal accomplishment was discovering how being resourceful can turn an unexpected disappointment into an experience better than I could imagine. Several of the workshops and courses I booked for this fellowship were unexpectedly canceled when I arrived in France. I figured out how to get the same education by meeting face to face with commodities merchants, craftspeople and local armchair historians and asking them to teach me about France and the history of their work.

Impact on Your Classroom, School and Community

How will your experiences positively impact student learning in new ways?

I aspire to make Louis Braille come to life for my students by re-introducing him as a living, breathing, human who accomplished great things. In teaching about Louis Braille through the rich commodities traditions of France (which remain largely unchanged since the time of Louis Braille), I hope to introduce students a man and the sense of the place from which he was raised.

What are your plans for working collaboratively with colleagues?

I am going to be teaching a series of experiential lessons in which I teach about Louis Braille through sensory teaching strategies using artifacts and provisions from his home country that were as popular then as they are now. I will invite teachers to come for inter-visitations so that they can emulate the same teaching techniques. The objective is to help other teachers learn how to present information using multisensory strategies to benefit all learners.

Imagining the Future

How do you envision celebrating of your students’ new learning?

It is my hope that students will be able to recite the history of several individuals with disabilities who have made contributions to society and also identify the challenges these individuals faced and overcame in pursuit of their goals. Life presents challenges to all people- we can learn vicariously from individuals who have overcome difficulty while using our own self determination. A French culinary feast in tribute to Louis Braille will serve as the final celebration for this learning.

Are there issues or challenges in your school, community or the greater world about which you and your students might try to make a difference?

Students with disabilities are not often acknowledged for the many abilities they have. It is my hope that this platform will serve as a method of promoting awareness about disability culture and societal contributions made by those within the disability community. By teaching students about Louis Braille and his method of self advocacy, perseverance and grit, it is my hope that students will use the information to push past boundaries, engage in risk taking and demonstrate high achievement.

How would you describe to a friend or a grant funder the most fundamental ways in which your fellowship has changed your personal and/or professional perspective?

Fund for Teachers enabled me to visit the home of Louis Braille. As a teacher for the blind and visually impaired, there is not a day that goes by that my students and I are not in proximity to the embossed system of writing Louis created during his life. This trip was a career apex and reaffirmed my passion and sense of purpose within my own vocation. It is my hope to Bring Louis's story close to the hearts of my students so that they may face a challenging world with courage and grit.