MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 23, 2013

OSB open house displays latest advances

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— It takes only a few seconds for Katelynn Zampella, 6, to whisk her fingers over an abacus to add two three-digit numbers.

The first-grader at Oklahoma School for the Blind is equally adept at counting change. A few sweeps across some coins and she correctly announces “81 cents.”

The school at 3300 Gibson St. showed all sorts of student skills and technology advancements Friday during its annual Open House. OSB invites parents, educators, officials and people from across the state to see what’s going on at the school, Principal Carolyn Sheppard said.

“Parents come to see how their kids are doing,” she said, adding that different groups toured the school throughout the day.

Katelynn’s classmate Priscilla Diaz, 7, welcomed several tour groups with a song. Not a kid’s song or current hit, but Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which was a hit before her mother, Mary Diaz, was born.

“Her grandmother has been teaching her all those songs,” Mary Diaz, 24, said as Priscilla’s sweet voice hit even the high notes.

After the song, she kissed and embraced her daughter.

Cindy Lumpkin, who teaches the first and second grades, showed how her students learn math using their fingers on the abacus, an ancient Asian calculation device.

Larry Stamper of Chouteau had a dual reason to tour OSB: He has a special needs child, but he’s also a member of the Chouteau school board. He said he wanted to see different ways schools work with students.

He praised the way students learned to count coins by touch.

“I had never seen the way they did it before,” he said. “I want to take that back to the school.”

Librarian Paula Rogers showed the variety of books and technology available, including large print books, volumes in Braille, audio-readers and computer viewers that increase print size in books.

Assisted technology instructor Robert Miller showed ways OSB students can use desktop computers, tablets, even smartphones with adaptive technology. He especially touted Apple products.

“One good thing about i-products is that right out of the box, a blind person can use them,” he said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.