Maggie Wherle, an award winning writer, accomplished musician and innovative artist has been sharing her creative gifts since she started as a Kindergarten student at Margaret Jenkins Elementary 4 years ago. Maggie recently won first prize for her age category in CNIB’s national braille creative writing contest for her story called “The Underground Festival” – a fantasy world where the soil shines with silver, dragons soar and people’s shadows are being stolen to nourish the hungry land.
A gifted student and storyteller, she is at ease in a world that holds no boundaries for her. According to her teacher Melanie Wakelin, “Maggie LOVES to learn and she loves to share her knowledge about many topics with the class.” She will tell you that blindness is only one aspect of her life, it does not define her.
When Maggie reads her award winning story, she does so with a deft sweep of her fingertips over her prose. She explores musical notes, Salish art and mathematical equations through the textures and musical scores crafted and created by Mrs. Antonivich on special technology made available through SET-BC and the Greater Victoria School District. An impromptu violin recital in the hall way brings an appreciative audience out of their classrooms. Again her fingers find the music and she draws the bow and fingers sweet spots on the neck of the violin. She “sees” the music in her head and with her fingers! During recess, Maggie and her friends head out to the playground where they enjoy a fast and crazy game of tag, while swinging through the monkey bars.
While some of her classroom resources being sourced from the Provincial Centre for the Visually Impaired, over 75% of the classroom resources are produced “in house” thanks to the skills of “Mrs. A.” and the support of her Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Daphne Hitchcock. This means Maggie doesn’t miss a beat and is able to fully participate in her Grade 3 class. She is now developing her own skills in braille production and file management on a computerized braille notetaker. The BrailleSense Plus, a SET-BC loan to Maggie’s school team, has enabled her to work with visual display equipment and to develop independence in pairing the BrailleSense with an iPad through Bluetooth technology. Maggie makes learning look easy; but it is no secret that she works incredibly hard with determination, focus and an attitude that spells out, “I can-I will”.
Watch for Maggie’s next story (working title “ClickerWood Mansion”) about a weight challenged cat and her relationship with a young woman in college. Move over Rowling, Lewis, and Tolkien – there is a new fantasy writer out there and her writing has a very unique and special texture!