Marleau Quick is legally blind, but she is a staunch advocate for education. She began working as a reading assistant at Lincoln Elementary in Salt Lake City School District in the fall of 1993. She was paid for four hours per day and divided her time between two classrooms. She read one-on-one with students, recorded their progress, and keeps the teachers apprised of students’ development.
The following year, she started in another classroom of second graders. After a few weeks, she and the teacher had become comfortable enough in their working relationship, Quick requested to work only with the second graders because she was able to help them directly with their reading skills as opposed to filing, making copies and checking papers. She felt her talents could be used to make a serious impact, so the teacher went to the school administration. They obtained approval from the principal, and she kept the paid two hours but also worked 8:00-11:30 as a volunteer daily.
Though Quick is legally blind, she perseveres through difficulties. She uses a battery operated, magnifying device to see the print and record progress. This past August, budgetary problems caused her job description to include a broader range of duties that did not include being a reading assistant. Again, she declined but asked permission to continue her reading duties in a voluntary capacity.
Quick has been coming in daily and staying longer. Her efforts are recognized and she is more respected for her dedication. She is patient, calm, soothing, and mature. Her presence makes the teachers approach problems more deliberately. She greets the students at the door with warm personal acknowledgments. She listens to the class’s opening on the carpet and adapts to any significant factor that might influence their performance such as health, breakfast, rest, etc. She gets students to the nurses, cafeteria, or a blanket and pillow until contact can be made with parents. She listens for personal conflicts, minor disturbances, and monitors the completion of their work. If a student is having a slow or troubled day, she sits with them until they are successfully finished. She is intuitive about how much work a student is capable of doing and knows when to reduce the load without being destructive for their future growth.
Quick helps tremendously with the effectiveness of the teachers by patiently teaching and re-teaching concepts from a slightly different perspective. She develops their sense of self-worth, capabilities, intellect, and desire to help others. Students begin answering questions or volunteering for tasks that are new and unfamiliar. She makes them feel they are valued and inspires their desire to learn. Her love and commitment to the children of Lincoln that have such varied needs and backgrounds is definitely evident, genuine and reaches far beyond altruism.