- Terri Werner
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Memories of Terri Werner
This tribute was written by one of her fellow teachers after her 2008 murder by one of her students(from wickedlocal,com in Wattertown, Mass)\r\n\r\n\"I’ve written many times about the events at the Perkins School for the Blind where I work. In all my years, however, I never could have imagined that I’d someday write about the murder of a colleague, and that a former student would be accused of the crime.\r\n\r\nI must confess that the recent Terri Werner tragedy had left me wordless, but after last week’s memorial service here at the school, I finally feel like I have something to say. I was friendly towards Terri, but I didn’t know her well. She was one of those people that I take for granted too much of the time. Growing up blind, I knew a lot of those artist types who tried to push the boundaries when it comes to the visually impaired. The sort of people who would say, “If you can’t see, touch,” or “If you can’t draw, paint with your fingers.” What can I say, I came of age in the ’60s, and I rode that wave that challenged preconceived notions, of race, gender, artistry, sexuality and yes, even disability! When I first found out that the art teacher, with the short cropped hair and cowboy shirt, was also in charge of the men’s wrestling team, I said, “Sure why not!” I called her coach from then on.\r\n\r\nI was never the artsy type, unless you count word craft. So when there was a lot of publicity around the school’s partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, spearheaded by Terri, I thought “That’s nice,” and not much more.\r\n\r\nIt’s the kind of heartwarming story that I am used to, and sadly, one I too often ignore. The relationship between teacher and student is one of the most dynamic that human beings have, and when those students have a disability that can potentially separate them from the rest of society, it is even more powerful.\r\n\r\nMany of our students come to us to learn how to be who they are. At first they can be put off by the fact that we don’t treat them differently, but quickly they become excited about their opportunities to try different things, like sports and art. Terri was a major force for many of our students to learn how to express themselves, and judging by their responses over the last few weeks, her impact on many of them will be a lasting one.\r\nTerri, as chronicled in this paper, made a life for herself. She had the farm, the horses, the cowboy boots, and her Mary. I don’t know what happened that day, but I do know, Terri was trying to help. I believe her loved ones take comfort in that, based on their incredible generosity of spirit. Terri was a real person, and that’s what I can’t get my head around; she deserved better!\r\n\r\nAt her memorial service, one of her students, Minh Farrow, said, “Even though we are not physically able to greet you or hug you in the usual way, you’re still with us in our hearts and minds wherever we go.”\r\n\r\nThis makes sense to me; nothing Terri did was in “the usual way.” We will all have to move forward, and I realize that we will need to hire a new art teacher. I am now left wondering just how we are going to find another Terri Werner; maybe they are not so easy to find after all!\"\r\n\r\n\r\n
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