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Noa’s story: A Deafblind School student blossoms

When Noa, a Perkins Deafblind School student, first came to campus, her fingers were not strong enough to push down a single braille key. Now 17, Noa is not only “all about the braille,” but she loves yoga, flower delivery, and horseback riding.

Female Perkins student rides horse while teachers stand by for support

“I don’t think my daughter could have learned anywhere else.”

Jeni, Noa’s mother

When she was born, Noa’s parents, Jeni and Ben, were told that Noa might never be able to sit up or feed herself. Noa had a prenatal stroke, causing bilateral brain damage and visual impairment. 

Then Noa came to Perkins to be evaluated. Perkins’ conclusion: Every child can learn. And Noa surely could.

“Perkins could see where her intelligence was,” said Jeni, “And how receptive her hands were, and they said, ‘I bet she can learn braille.’” 

Noa has been living on Perkins campus since she was 8 years-old, going home to her family on the weekends. 

Her teachers in the Deafblind School are what made the difference in her life forever. Teachers Sara Espanet and Andrea Covelli are just a few who have been crucial to Noa’s evolution. 

With the guidance of Wendy Buckley, an assistive technology specialist for the Deafblind School, Noa’s braille skills excelled, and she can now write full sentences and chore lists, a big help to the other children living with her on campus.

“Wendy made braille literacy possible for Noa,” said Ben. For the little girl who was once too weak to type a single braille letter, braille is now her strongest form of communication.

As a residential student, Noa lives on-campus five days a week in residence halls called “cottages.” Perkins staff work with the students to amplify skills of independent living, including setting the table, managing a grocery budget, and more. 

“We do functional, and we do fun,” said Karen Hern, who supervises residential living for the Deafblind School. 

Ben and Jeni both agree that Noa likes to be self-sufficient. “People called Noa’s ability to learn ‘wishful thinking,’ and now, she’s riding horses,” said Jeni.

Noa is one of many Deafblind School students who have unlocked their world with the help of Perkins expert teachers. For more information, visit Perkins.org/Noa.

Noa’s Perkins team:

Sara Espanet: Noa’s former Deafblind School teacher

Andrea Covelli: Noa’s current Deafblind School teacher

Wendy Buckley: Assistive Technology Specialist for the Deafblind School

Emily Price: Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Specialist

Erin Neville: Physical Therapist

Erin Fitzgerald: Residential Coordinator in Potter Cottage

Matt LaCortiglia: Adapted P.E. teacher

Emily Taborda-Monroe: Job Coach (Flower arrangement and delivery at Marillac)

Adam Pulzetti: Job Coach (Mount Auburn Greenhouse)(Flower delivery at Marillac)

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