Kimberly Kingsley was a student at Perkins School for the Blind from 1972 to 1983. In the photo of the class of 1983 above, Kingsley is the first person seated on the right side of the front row. She is wearing a graduation cap and gown and holding a bouquet of flowers. While at Perkins, she enjoyed doing track and field, swimming, music, and bowling. As a sophomore, Kingsley traveled with the chorus to perform for the United Nations in New York. She lived in Keller-Sullivan and Fisher cottages. After Perkins, she used skills learned while working at the Student Store as the owner of her own vending stand for 10 years and as an employee at a grocery store.
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This interview is a digitized copy of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Perkins School for the Blind. The interview was conducted in 2004 by Sandra Boris-Berkowitz.
This oral history transcript may be quoted if cited. A preferred citation is provided. The interview may not be published in full except with the permission of the Perkins School for the Blind. For permission please contact [email protected].
Kingsley, Kimberly “Kimberly Kingsley oral history interview conducted by Sandra Boris-Berkowitz,” 2004, Perkins Oral History Project, AG195-2005-09, Perkins School for the Blind Archives.
Sandra Boris-Berkowitz: It’s 2004. My name, as the interviewer, is Sandra Boris-Berkowitz, and I am interviewing Kimberley Kingsley. Kimberley, would you like to spell your name, tell your name, and spell it again?Thanks
KImberly Kingsley: K-i-m-b-e-r-l-e-y, A, Kingsley, k-i-n-g-s-l-e-y.
Boris-Berkowitz: When did you come to Perkins?
Kingsley: I came to Perkins in 1972, and I graduated in 1983.
Boris-Berkowitz: And looking back when you were here, what did you value most about your education at Perkins?
Kingsley: I valued all my teachers. I loved them dearly. I also loved my music, the students working in the student store, and I learned a lot from Perkins. I was– I loved swimming class. I enjoyed track and– doing track and field. I learned how to bowl here at Perkins, and now I’m on a league of my own.
Kingsley: I’ve done some traveling in the past. I also valued all the help and– that I’ve gotten here at Perkins.
Boris-Berkowitz: You said you worked in the student store. What is that? What did you do there?
Kingsley: I waited on customers and learned how to deal with customers, how to do math, how to run a cash register. I also had my own vending stand for 10 years.
Boris-Berkowitz: So your class in the student store helped you prepare you for–
Kingsley: A job, basically.
Boris-Berkowitz: Great? And are you working now?
Kingsley: Yes, I am.
Boris-Berkowitz: And where are you working?
Kingsley: I’m working at Stop and Shop.
Boris-Berkowitz: And what do you do there?
Kingsley: I’m a cashier, part-time. It’ll be seven years in December of this year.
Boris-Berkowitz: Great. If you were the teacher and Perkins was the student, what grade would you give Perkins and why?
Kingsley: I’d give them an A.
Boris-Berkowitz: An A. Why would you give Perkins an A?
Kingsley: Because they’re very good with the blind and they’re very good with teaching students, and they really helped me through a lot of stress and my– and I also enjoyed mobility.
Boris-Berkowitz: Great. Any fond memories about holiday celebrating?
Kingsley: And I loved the Christmas concerts, performing in the concerts in the spring sh– doing the spring shows, going on the trip with Perkins and singing at the United Nations in New York.
Boris-Berkowitz: What year was that?
Kingsley: That was my sophomore year.
Boris-Berkowitz: And a group of you went to the–
Kingsley: The whole chorus went, and we also had a track tournament the same time down there, so I had to be in the chorus and do a track tournament at the same time.
Boris-Berkowitz: That is great.
Kingsley: I went on the track team.
Boris-Berkowitz: What teachers had the greatest influence in your time during your stay at Perkins?
Kingsley: Norman LeBlanc, Paul Doerr, Mary Merrigan.
Boris-Berkowitz: And why are those teachers?
Kingsley: Well, they really helped me, and Paul was my– Paul Doerr was my case manager, and he helped me through a lot.
Boris-Berkowitz: OK, and how about the other folks?
Kingsley: And Mary helped me with my checkbook and my fin– helped me learn about some of my finances, was when I was a senior at Perkins.
Boris-Berkowitz: Great. What was the most– what was the most significant, historical event that happened during your time at Perkins? Was there one that you can recall?
Kingsley: Well, I can recall one– well, it wasn’t really historical, but it was kind of serious, when my grandmother got deathly ill, and I was a nervous wreck.
Kingsley: That was when I was first here in the lower school. And also, Judy Palmer was fantastic.
Kingsley: She was my lower-school teacher when I first came to Perkins, and I knew I had a lot of problems.
Boris-Berkowitz: Judy Palmer, p-a-l-m-e-r?
Boris-Berkowitz: So you felt you got a lot of support–
Kingsley: From Judy.
Boris-Berkowitz: From Judy during this difficult time?
Boris-Berkowitz: What was cottage life like?
Kingsley: It was OK. I was basically, like through my high school years, my last four years, I was basically in the Keller-Sullivan live-in, Fisher live-in one summer.
Boris-Berkowitz: Tell us about those programs.
Kingsley: They were very good. You got to be on your own. Perkins taught you how to cook, how to clean, how to take care of yourself, which I thought was quite interesting. And–
Boris-Berkowitz: And then you got to practice those–
Kingsley: I got to practice those skills and get to practice with learning how to shop on my own and get out on my own. And I also, when I was going to school, I used to see a former student over in Brookline.
Boris-Berkowitz: So in those programs, the Keller-Sullivan and Fisher program, the apartment program, you felt once you left here and graduated, you felt you could live on your own independently and do a fine job?
Kingsley: But I didn’t know where I was going to live. That was that was the whole issue. And I didn’t know if I would be accepted to the housing or not at first because I was going through the Vending Program and I needed access to the MBTA, and I was still commuting from East Bridgewater everyday and was finding it very difficult.
Boris-Berkowitz: But you did do it?
Kingsley: I did do it.
Boris-Berkowitz: Great. Any fond memories of holiday celebrations here? I don’t know if I remember– did I ask that question?
Boris-Berkowitz: The Christmas–
Kingsley: The Christmas concerts for all 10 years as an accep– no, nine years of Christmas concerts, excuse me. They were very, very good. An awful lot of work, but I loved them. That was very good. And I also remember going on a lot of trips with the Sudbury players to see shows and–
Kingsley: Summer school was fantastic because you got to do a lot of activities, go places, such as amusement parks, and all kinds of trips at Perkins. And of course, on Cleanup Night, the boat trip on the Charles.
Boris-Berkowitz: Whoa, why do you call it Cleanup Night?
Kingsley: Well, Cleanup Day, the last week of–
Kingsley: –-of school being you get to basically hang around and do nothing.
Boris-Berkowitz: Sounds like a fun time. Do you stay in touch with any teachers, staff, or childhood friends from Perkins?
Kingsley: Occasionally, I see staff just basically on alumni weekend but it– I’d like to– I would love to keep in contact with more of the staff here, but I never know when they’re available, and I feel I just don’t want to show up and not be able to see them. Be more contact with couple of the students here.
Boris-Berkowitz: And I– you’ve been coming to alumni weekend for many years.
Boris-Berkowitz: Why do you come back for alumni weekend?
Kingsley: To see all my friends and to hang out with staff and get to see the place over again because I don’t get to see it much during the course of the year.
Boris-Berkowitz: Great. Do you have anything else you’d like to add to this oral history project?
Kingsley: Yeah, I have traveled. I am taking some– quite a few trips and I’ve traveled through the Colorado Rockies. I’ve seen the whole coast of California, and I’ve also been to the– Canadian Rockies was my last trip last year, and I’m also planning another trip this year around the Great Lakes.
Boris-Berkowitz: Sounds like a good time. Thank you, Kim.
Kingsley: And thank you, everybody.