5 fun facts about the ELP Class of 2018

One is a musician, another commutes by boat – all share a passion for educating children with multiple disabilities

Members of the ELP Class of 2018 don blindfolds during an orientation and mobility exercise.

The ELP Class of 2018 is made up of teachers, trainers and therapists from 13 developing countries.

September 28, 2017

The beginning of a new school year at Perkins School for the Blind also means the arrival of a new Educational Leadership Program (ELP) class.

This year’s group of international educators is made up of teachers, trainers and therapists from 13 developing countries – including Chile, Egypt, Nigeria and Russia.

After arriving on campus earlier this month, the newest participants in Perkins International’s premier teacher training program are off to a fast start.

They’ll spend the next nine months at Perkins, immersing themselves in expert instruction and hands-on learning experiences before returning home.

“Every class has a unique personality,” said ELP Director Marianne Riggio. “We encourage our ELP participants to dream big and that starts on day one.”

Here are five fun facts about the ELP Class of 2018:

Going the distance

As a special educator in Costa Rica, Estefana Perlaza Brenes provides home-based services for indigenous populations in some of the country’s most remote areas. Her longest journey? That would be 300 miles round-trip – by boat. “My job takes me everywhere,” she said. “It requires dedication to help these children.”

Strike up the band

When he’s not running the Kuja Unit for the Deafblind, Enock Ombok of Kenya enjoys teaching his students how to play the orutu, a traditional one-string instrument. “We all play music together during leisure time,” he said. “My students love to sit down and play. It’s relaxing and helps make the day enjoyable.”

All the right moves

Marta Luczkow of Poland is a low vision therapist with a passion for dance. During an annual sports camp, she teaches dance classes to students who are blind, ages 12 to 25. “Some of the teenagers are reluctant, especially the boys,” she said. “But after lessons with me, they always change their mind and dance with the group!”

A real success story

Nguyen Thi Hang works as a researcher with the Ministry of Education in Vietnam. But she also loves making tactile books for students with multiple disabilities. Nguyen believes a tactile book can make story time much more engaging. “The children can touch what they’re learning about,” she said. “It promotes literacy and independence.”

Making dreams a reality

During their stay at Perkins, every ELP participant is tasked with developing a project for when they return home. Omolola Oguntunde from Nigeria already knows what she wants to do: By opening an early intervention center at the hospital where she works, Oguntunde hopes to provide vital support services for children with multiple disabilities ages 0 to 6. “I’m already thinking big,” she said. “And I want to use everything I’m learning at Perkins.”