BESB: Award Programs







OCTOBER 22, 2010 at 10:00 A.M.


Master of Ceremonies: 

Patrick J. Johnson, Jr., ACSW

        President, CT Institute for the Blind, dba Oakhill


Awards will be presented to celebrate the accomplishments of people who are blind and those who have made outstanding contributions to promote the success of people who are blind in Connecticut.


White Cane Safety Day is observed to remind Connecticut motorists to be aware of pedestrians with white canes or guide dogs and to please stop to guarantee their safety at crosswalks.




Emily Wells Foster Achievement Award

Established in 1988 in memory and honor of Emily Wells Foster who was instrumental in the establishment in 1893 of the Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) and Oak Hill School for the Blind for persons who are blind. This award is for outstanding accomplishments in any sphere of activity. Any person who is legally blind, residing in Connecticut may be nominated for this award. 


2010 Recipient:

Courtney Tabor, North Branford, CT

Participated in running two health care clinics in Ghana providing treatment for approximately 500 people and conducted a focus group with community members to gather information about how blindness is viewed in their culture.  Mentor for children who are blind working together to improve self-esteem and overcome the challenges faced by blindness. 


Courtney has been interning at Maine Medical Center Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital practicing social work for children who are sick and their families.



Raymond E. Baldwin Award

Established in 1983 in memory and honor of former Governor, Legislator, and Chief Justice of Connecticut--Raymond E. Baldwin. This award recognizes an individual, agency, civic organization, or volunteer group who has made outstanding contributions to the betterment and enrichment of the lives of persons who are blind in Connecticut


2010 Recipient:

Mrs. Jean Mayhew, South Glastonbury, CT


Jean Mayhew has become a vital part of The Braille Unit.  She has volunteered as a Braille transcriptionist at the Board of Education Services for the Blind for the past seven years. When Jean hears that a student needs Braille materials, she works endlessly until the materials are done and in the students hands even if it requires her to work during her own personal time.


She wants to ensure that our students have the same materials as their sighted peers and diligently works toward this goal.


Jean was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for NEAER (The Northeast Chapter of the Association for the Education of the Blind and Visually Impaired) in November, 2009. This award recognizes contributions of a person involved in the education of individuals with visual impairments and Jean was among numerous nominees throughout the Northeast.



Business Enterprise Manager Award

This award was established in 2000 to recognize a Business Enterprise Program facility manager who is legally blind for outstanding contributions to the program. 


2010 Recipient:

Mr. Keith DeLeo, Waterbury, CT;


Keith Deleo has been mentoring students for the past six years. 

He teaches students many skills in food service encouraging and guiding them to do their best and feel confident in their work.  Keith has significant experience working with young people with disabilities and approaches each in such a manner that they feel comfortable and secure. 


Keith spends his outside hours helping others as well. He raises money yearly for the local Breast Cancer charity drive by signing up pledges from the staff and his customers. He has been awarded several certificates of appreciation from this and other organizations including MS and for participating in Relay for Life.



Student Achievement Award- Academics

Recognizes outstanding success in one or more academic or vocational areas (not necessarily highest GPA). 


2010 Recipient:

Daniel Rollins, West Hartford, CT

At Hall High School, Dan holds a high reputation among the school community.  


Dan produced excellent work that put him in the top of his AP class.  He excelled in his ability to solve new and different mathematical problems by applying chemical principles learned in previous lessons.  He is not intimidated by challenging work but rather ignited by it.



Student Achievement Award- Civic

Recognizes exemplary leadership/participation in a school activity or community setting.


2010 Recipient:

Brendon Field, New Hartford, CT

Brendon is an active member of the National Honor Society.  He was selected by the faculty and faculty council as meeting the NHS guidelines for leadership, character, and service.


As President of the BESB Student Advisory Council (SAC), he has personally organized & led meetings, makes arrangements for the agenda and recruits new students.


Brendon also participated in another BESB program, the LIFE summer program (2009) living on campus at Southern Connecticut State University. He served as a Leader of the Day and was responsible for running the day-long program for the students.



Student Achievement Award- Arts

Recognizes creative contributions in the arts, such as visual

arts, creative writing, dance, theater, music, etc.


2010 Recipient:

Ms Gwendolyn Vartanian, Vernon, CT

Gwendolyn began taking art lessons in 2008 at the Connecticut Art School in South Windsor. Gwen is an 9th grader, with incredible art talent. 


Her drawing skills are excellent and she applies the elements of art and principles of design in her work creating engaging compositions.


She has an uncanny ability to draw and paint images that any fully-sighted person would have a difficult time doing – at any age!



Student Achievement Award- Athletics

Recognizes outstanding success as a participant in athletics either in a school or a community setting.

2010 Recipient:

Mr. Noah O’Connor, New Milford, CT

As Center #56 on the Pop Warner football team, he is responsible to make quick delivery of the ball to the quarterback.  Opposing team coaches comment what an AWESOME job 56 did. The team won their conference going on to win the state championship.


Noah is a natural leader by example to all of us, not only in his athletic ability.  Noah has never given less than 110% at any given time either on or off the field.



The Employer of the Year Award

It was established in 1985 by the Agency Consumer Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors of the State of Connecticut Board of Education and Services for the Blind. This award is given to recognize employers who have made a significant contribution to the employment of persons who are blind in Connecticut. This Award is presented to an employer with less than 100 employees and to one with more than 100 employees.


2010 Recipients:

Small Business Employer of the Year Award (Under 100 Employees)

Bridgeport Alternative Incarceration Center

For their commitment in accommodating a legally blind person who has been employed as a case manager for three and a half years.



Student Achievement Award- Academics

2009 Recipient: Nathaniel Book

2008 Recipient: Nicholas Corbett

2007 Recipient: Kate Webster

2006 Recipient: Andrew Johnson
2005 Recipient: Jonathan Kopetz

 Student Achievement Award- Arts

2009 Recipient: Tiffany Davis

2008 Recipient: Rebekah Anderson

2007 Recipient:  Wilmarie Lopez

2006 Recipient: Andrew Johnson


Student Achievement Award- Athletics
2009 Recipient: Justin Edwards

2007 Recipient: Andrew Johnson

2006 Recipient: Matt Langer 
2005 Recipient: Patrick Heffernan


Student Achievement Award – Civics

2009 Recipient: Joseph Eckler

Business Enterprise Manager’s Award

2009 Recipient: Joseph Nerney

2008 Recipient: Zacash Shaham

2007 Recipient: Angel Torres

2006 Recipient: Anthony Ford
2005 Recipient: David Pelaggi


Civic Leadership Award
2006 Recipient: Ashley Gorzelany 

Emily Wells Foster Achievement Award

2009 Recipient: Junerose Killian

2008 Recipient: Gary Johnson

2007 Recipient: Barbara Bostwick

2006 Recipient: Eileen Akers
2005 Recipient: Barbara Lewis

2008 Special Lifetime Achievement Award

Stephen Thal

Large Employer of the Year

2009 Recipients: Super Stop & Shop/Amity New Haven, CT

2008 Recipient: Verizon Wireless

2007 Recipient: Wal*Mart, Hartford, CT

2006 Recipient: Norwalk Hour Newspaper  
2005 Recipient: The Reminder and Broadcaster Newspapers


Small Employer of the Year
2009 Recipient: Attorney at Law, Mr. Valdis Vinkels, Hartford, CT

2008 Recipient:  Columbia Ford, Lincoln, Mercury

2007 Recipient: Hourglass Insurance Services, Gales Ferry, CT

2006 Recipient: Paine’s, Inc.


Prof. Kenneth V. Olson Excellence in Education Award

2009 Recipient: Agnes Allen

2008 Recipient: Evelyn Brown

2007 Recipient: Holly Wood

2006 Recipient: Verna O'Donnell
2005 Recipient: Jan Filmer

Raymond E. Baldwin Award

2009 Recipients: Irene Watson

Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

2008 Recipient:   Ruth Feldman

2007 Recipient:   John A. Coccomo.  Sr. Foundation

2006 Recipient:   Barbara Bostwick

2005 Recipient:   Andrea Pasquale



Content Last Modified on 9/17/2010 5:16:30 PM