Independent Scott expects no special treatment at Ridgecrest Elementary

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 31, 2005

Brittany Scott has a vision for her future. It was kind of a spur of the moment decision, the result of a joke and a challenge from her family, but now, it&8217;s the plan.

She&8217;s going to be a lawyer.

That means taking law classes at LSU or Louisiana Tech, and maybe Harvard Law, she said.

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It means more hard work at Ridgecrest Elementary and in high school.

And it means continuing to develop her blossoming people skills.

But determination isn&8217;t a weak trait for 13-year-old Brittany, and no one around her would dare doubt any goal she has.

She has all the right personality traits to be a lawyer. She&8217;s opinionated, well spoken, wise beyond her years and not afraid of very much.

She&8217;s good in school, excels in reading and language and deals well with other people.

Probably the biggest challenge she has to overcome isn&8217;t something she spends much time dwelling on. She&8217;s blind.

&8220;I&8217;ll have to take law classes and study hard,&8221; she said. &8220;If a sighted person can do it, I can.&8221;

Brittany, now in eighth grade, has attended Ridgecrest Elementary since first grade. She doesn&8217;t go to any special classes, and she doesn&8217;t get very much special treatment.

She maneuvers her way through the lunch line, jumps rope and plays volleyball in PE and places tops in most reading categories.

&8220;Brittany is extremely independent,&8221; Principal Brad Lipsey said. &8220;She literally knows this campus better than I do.&8221;

She&8217;s used a cane to get around since kindergarten, though she walks freely around her house and her grandmother&8217;s house without it, she said.

Brittany has optical atrophy and has been blind since birth, though she says she can see shadows.

&8220;The doctors say that&8217;s impossible,&8221; mom Crissie Turner said. &8220;But if someone is standing near her, she&8217;ll say she sees them.&8221;

In school Brittany has Braille textbooks and uses a Braille computer to do her assignments. Her teachers have had some training through state sponsored courses, but none of them know Braille or have special education degrees.

&8220;She&8217;s a regular ed student,&8221; teacher Suzanne Rogers said. &8220;When we assign group projects, all the students want Brittany to be their partner.

&8220;Everything she hears she just soaks up.&8221;

She&8217;s also highly organized and precise, her mom said.

She started learning Braille when other children started learning to read, her first-grade teacher assistant Charlene Rushing said.

In third grade she landed the title of first-place Braille reader in the state.

&8220;Once she was taught how to read, she just did it,&8221; Rushing said.

&8220;She was wonderful. She&8217;s what made it worth coming to work every day.&8221;

Now Brittany reads the same Accelerated Reader books other children read, only hers come from a far away library and contain no printed words.

Rogers said the other students are protective of Brittany, but don&8217;t treat her with pity.

They still sometimes identify her by her lack of vision though, Brittany said.

&8220;Some things they say just make me so mad,&8221; she said. &8220;If they bump into me, they&8217;ll say to each other, you made me bump into the blind girl. I have a name.&8221;

Though the words bother her, Brittany said she usually just walks away from the situation.

Next year, Brittany will start high school in Baton Rouge at the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired, and she can&8217;t wait.

She&8217;s attended a six-week summer camp at the school for most of her life, and has always wanted to be a full-time student there.

&8220;They do stuff there that I&8217;ll get to do,&8221; she said. &8220;My friends are there.&8221;

Brittany will live in a dorm room with another girl, go on field trips to the movies and around town and to dances.

Though she has high praise for Ridgecrest Elementary, she said she&8217;s more than ready to get away from Ferriday and to the big city.

Turner said she made the decision a long time ago to keep Brittany in a local public elementary school because she thought her daughter was smart enough to handle it.

&8220;They have catered to her every need,&8221; Turner said. &8220;This child is bright enough to be in a regular school. Brittany pretty much out knows everybody.&8221;

And there was a selfish reason too, mom admits.

&8220;I wanted my baby with me, and I knew she was entitled to an education here.&8221;

Brittany longs for school and LSVI, but said she thinks Ridgecrest has been good for her.

&8220;I think it would be better to be here for awhile,&8221; she said. &8220;But now I just want to go to LSVI where everything is convenient and reachable.&8221;