Blind teacher at the top of her game

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Blind teacher at the top of her game

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Despite her vision impairment, English teacher Kim Kyung-min at Inwang Middle School has become one of the best-performing teachers, thanks to help from her guide dog Midam. By Kang Jung-hyun

When students at Inwang Middle School celebrate Teachers’ Day, which falls today, they not only honor their teacher but her guide dog who stands by her side.

Kim Kyung-min, a blind English teacher at the school in northwest Seoul, lost her eyesight to glaucoma when she was 12 years old.

But she persevered through all the hardships and inconveniences accompanied by the vision loss.

When she first came to the middle school in 2011, her colleagues were worried if the 25-year-old rookie teacher would be able to fulfill her day-to-day teaching duties.

But now she is one of the top-performing teachers, according to internal teaching performance evaluations.

Putting aside her excellent teaching skills, another valuable aspect lies in the positive example she shows to the students.

“The fact that she has become a teacher shows her determination to beat the odds,” said Kim Won-ki, principal of the Inwang Middle School.

“Her example can help cultivate moral and strong-willed students,” he said.

Seok Hye-jin, 13, is one of those inspired by the course of her life as well as her instruction in class.

“She is blind, but she tries her best to teach us. It really moves me,” said Seok, one of Kim’s students.

“I can’t see her eyes well, but she is really beautiful,” the female student said.

Kim attributes her achievement to her guide dog named Midam, which means “a beautiful story” in Korean.Midam has accompanied her for seven years. The guide dog stayed by her side when she took university courses and studied by reading Braille for the competitive teacher qualification exam.

She graduated from Sookmyung Women’s University ahead of her class with a GDP score of 4.19 out of 4.3.

“Whenever I go out with Midam, people make way for me and are friendly to me and my dog,” Kim said.

“She is like a bridge that connects me and the outside world,” she said.

Her assistant dog also helped her to be close with the students. At the school, Midam is as popular as the teacher and is surrounded by a throng of students between the classes.

Her popularity looked obvious on Teachers’ Day as students lined up to give the guide dog a bouquet of carnations. Teachers’ Day is celebrated on May 15 every year.

“Midam is also our teacher who helps our teacher give lessons to us,” said Kim Woo-bin, 15-year-old male student.


By Chung Jong-mun, Park Eun-jee [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]
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