Church donates towards preschooler’s educational needs

Brantley Hemann is helped by an aide as he practices braille on flash cards. (EJ Photo/Alex Schmidt)

Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

The generosity of a local church is having a special impact on the needs of a student at St. Ansgar Elementary. Trinity United Methodist Church of Bolan Women’s group recently gave a grant to assist with the needs of preschooler Brantley Hemann, who was born with bilateral microphthalmia, causing him to be effectively blind since birth.

Brantley, the son of Whitney and Myron Hemann, attends school four days a week in Mrs. Hjelmeland’s class and has made great strides this year with the help of his classmates and para-educators Ms. Goergen and Mrs. Williams. For Brantley’s specific needs, he spends part of the day in one-on-one sessions learning with braille cards, and a braille learning keyboard. The $100 endowment from the church will go towards more braille print books and similar learning implements that will assist Brantley as he progresses in his education.

“He’s made such great progress this year” says Hjelmeland, gathered around with Brantley, his teachers, mother Whitney and his grandma Pam Wirtjes, a member of the TCU Women’s group presenting the check. “The braille has helped him become much more verbal,” Wirtjes says. Brantley, demonstrating, recognizes his teacher’s voice with a smile and says “Hem-land!” His teachers also say Brantley loves music class and when he gets visits from his older sister Chloe in fourth grade.   

Teacher Sherri Hjelmeland, para Pam Williams, Whitney Hemann, Brantley Hemann, Pam Wirtjes, Para Tiffany Goergen (EJ Photo/Alex Schmidt)

Grants like those given by the TCU Women’s group and assistance from the Department of Education and Iowa School for the Blind and Visually Impaired help make Brantley’s education possible here at St. Ansgar, along with the teachers, aides, para-educators and staff for making a great environment for a student to learn and grow while overcoming obstacles all the way.

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