It’s like winning the Heisman trophy or the Oscar when you didn’t even know you had been nominated. Hallie Greenfield traveled to Deer Creek Lodge thinking she was getting an award but ended up receiving THEE award.
Greenfield is in her eighteenth year as a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist with the Montgomery County Educational Service Center. She fell into the role, at first reluctantly, but she quickly fell in love with her “kiddos” and she knew it was where she was meant to be.
“While working on my Masters at UD in Mental Health Counselling I was looking out over the campus one evening reflecting on what I wanted to really do with my life,” Greenfield said. “I knew I wanted to help people in some way. Working with the deafblind kept coming into my thoughts.”
“I began my research and my assumption was right, there was this huge need,” Greenfield said. “So that’s the community I gravitated toward.”
While working in her new specialty, Orientation and Mobility (O&M), which focuses on helping individuals who are blind or visually impaired develop the skills and concepts necessary for them to safely, independently and efficiently travel through their environment, the phone call came from the Montgomery County Educational Service Center. Greenfield was actually just getting ready to interview for a job in Maine when the MCESC called asking of her interest in coming to work with children.
“My background and experience was with adults,” Greenfield said. “I was somewhat reluctant at first to work with kids but I took the position and it has changed my life. The pieces of my life’s puzzle came together.”
She immersed herself into not only the position but the community as well. Her background and education, seemingly diverse have come together to form the perfect package of amazing. She has an art degree, a social worker’s license, a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counselling and another Master’s degree in Orientation and Mobility and it all collectively provides her tools to use on a daily basis.
Hallie served the state of Ohio as a Deafblind Specialist and obtained her Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist license. Currently she is not only an O&M Specialist, but is also a service provider, an Evaluator on the Educational Assessment Team, and mentor to four O&M employees.
Typically her caseload is eight to ten students and they come from every point on the spectrum of visual impairment. Some are just starting out in the O&M process while others have some of the skills.
“When you see that kiddo experiencing a moment of real understanding of an accomplishment and you see the sparks, it becomes clear to them and their family that they can do it. That look on a child’s face when they get a small victory which leads to another and another is a spiritual moment,” Greenfield explains.
One of her former students along with her guide dog is now attending graduate school. Greenfield beams with pride talking about it.
“To see the growth in confidence, to see that child grow to experience the world and make a difference on her own is like YES! I have done my job,” she said, smiling.
On the night of October 23, Greenfield headed to Deer Creek Park for the state ceremony to accept the award for Outstanding Ohio Orientation and Mobility Specialist Award in which she was nominated by her peers. Fully expecting just one award she graciously accepted the honor but just as the ceremony was coming to a close, another award, a secret award was presented. It was the J. Kenneth Cozier Award, the highest honor given to recognize the accomplishments of someone in the O & M field and Teachers of the Visually Impaired. Hallie Greenfield was presented the honor in front of her colleagues from the MCESC which made it even more special.
“We have a whole staff deserving of this award. I am so honored and humbled,” Greenfield said.
In one of the many nomination letters for the J. Kenneth Cozier Award sent in by Greenfield’s coworkers and colleagues, one resonated with Greenfield as a reminder of what her life is all about:
She believes that all people deserve to be treated as human beings, have the right to an education, and have the right to have independence at the highest level they can achieve.
Greenfield quickly points out she learns from her students each and every day. Lessons in patience and respect occur daily and it’s the kids providing the lessons.
“There is such distress with some the kids and their families when they come to us,” Greenfield said. “We are the purveyors of hope. I know it’s tough but we can do it. Seeing the light emerge from my kiddos, well, simply put it affects everyone, for life.”
Greenfield gladly shares her light to those who might need it and from the look on the faces of those children with whom she works, the light comes back to her even brighter. Hallie Greenfield is the MCESC.