The National Association of Rehabilitation Instructors.
Rehabilitation instructors work primarily with adult students. Their students often have very hidden potential and low self-esteem. Instructors must serve two roles -- as a teacher when needed, and as a friend when a friend is needed. And they must have the intuition and ability to know when each role is warranted.
Using creative new methods to help their students achieve, rehabilitation instructors pave new frontiers for themselves as well as their students. They must display good teaching techniques while also having a solid background in their subject area. NARI leaders help instructors develop these skills and help administrators realize the importance of training opportunities for their instructors.
The purpose of NARI is professional growth. Through the exchange of information, members gain valuable insight in their profession. They learn about teaching methods, problem solving, and workable ideas. NARI members also strive to develop certification standards with their state boards of education and circulate newsletter articles about their work. NARI members are recognized as professionals of equal rank with other rehabilitation professionals and are afforded the opportunity to hear experts in the field speak at conferences.
NARI strives to foster understanding of instructors' roles in a total rehabilitation process, and to encourage and stimulate professional growth and pride in instructors so they can meet the demands of changing times. Instructors are better equipped through exchanging ideas about methods and techniques with other instructors from around the country. In-service training, conferences, and seminars are also ways that NARI develops better understanding among its ranks.
Anyone who teaches people with disabilities can be a member of NARI. Others eligible for membership include those who train others to work with persons with disabilities and those interested in the improvement of instruction in both of the aforementioned groups.
NARI's membership includes physical therapists, speech therapists, occupation therapists, visual therapists, academic instructors, rehabilitation nurses, life skills instructors, special education instructors, vocational instructors, orientation and mobility instructors, braille instructors, home health nurses, supervisors of job training sites and workshops, and college professors. NARI is also open to administrators who supervise instructors of all types, counselors who are interested in better instruction for their clients, and others.
The National Association of Rehabilitation Instructors (NARI) was formed so information could be exchanged. NARI Members share teaching methods, workable ideas, and problem solving.
Representatives from four states that had instructors' organizations, Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina and New Mexico, met in Cincinnati in October of 1970 to consider forming a national organization. These instructors had come to realize the importance of having strong communication among teachers and realized the value in sharing ideas and experiences with others from throughout the country.
Mike Nelopovich, then of New Mexico, served as the organizing president. It wasn't until the following year at the NRA conference in Florida that NARI was approved as a provisional division by the NRA Board of Directors.
In 1981 NARI became a permanent professional organization in its own right at the NRA Conference in Indianapolis.
The organization suffered setbacks in membership during its early years when several major vocational facilities were shut down, but new ones which formed in Mississippi, Virginia, and Arkansas filled the void.
Larry Courter of New Mexico designed an emblem for the NARI which incorporates four persons which represent the four organizing units and all members join hands to represent the national organization. A diamond is drawn from the head of each person, representing a flow of their ideas to other units.
Each year NARI recognizes those who have demonstrated the ideals and qualities that exemplify excellence in the field of rehabilitation instruction. Those chosen need not be members of NARI to receive this award, but nomination can be made only by NARI members. The following winners have been named: 1980-George Brown, Hot Springs, AR; 1981-Priscilla Malloy, Butner, NC; 1982-Aminta Aguilar, Roswell, NM; 1983-Nola Skates, Hot Springs, AR; 1984-(tie) Sandy DeSantis, Scottsdale, AZ and Gar Thornton, Roswell, NM; 1985-Robert L. Queen, Fishersville, VA; 1992-Jean Davis, Stanton, VA; 1993-Billy Little, Columbus, MS; 1994-Gene Brown, Hot Springs, AR.
Besides the national awards, several states give their own instructor-of-the-year awards.
The main governing body of NARI is an elected Board of Directors. This board consists of a president, president-elect, immediate past president, secretary-treasurer, and six board members. Three board members are selected annually and serve two-year terms. Other officers serve one-year terms but are eligible for re-election. Officers and board members are elected by mail ballot near the end of the year. All major decisions are also decided by mail ballot.
Those who have served as NARI presidents include:
1975-77 Mike Nelopovich, Arkansas 1977-78 George Stram, Maryland 1978-79 Anne Hamilton, Georgia 1979-80 Keith Garletts, Virginia 1980-81 Lucy Bartlett, New Mexico 1981-83 Vaughn Kesterson, Arkansas 1983-84 Mary Martin Koleski, Indiana 1985-86 Paul McFarland, Virginia 1987-88 Virginia Waddle, Mississippi 1988-89 Steven Sweeney, Virginia 1989-90 Phillip Cook, Virginia 1990-93 Janet Simmons, Virginia 1993-94 Mary Chandler, Mississippi 1994-95 Faye Fears, Mississippi 1995-96 Donna Rowe, Alabama
NARI's publication, the Bulletin, seeks to answer questions. Any member can have his/her concerns addressed by the Board of Directors by mail, phone, or in person. NARI's Bulletin is published three or four times a year. It contains news about state units, national articles, and opportunities for involvement in NARI. It tries to answer questions which are of major concern to NARI's members and also provides professional articles. The Bulletin keeps members in tune with their profession on a national level which proves most helpful to the majority of members who aren't able to travel to national or regional conferences on a regular basis.
There is one business meeting each year at the National NRA Conference. Also, input from all members is encouraged at the meetings of the Board of Directors.
Since most instructors have little time they can be away from their students, state units have been encouraged and are of utmost importance. Ten or more members are needed to form a state unit. Each state unit needs one person to work with the national organization.
The National Association of Rehabilitation Instructors encourages all persons who are dedicated to helping those with disabilities to join NARI for professional growth.
Ms. Faye Fears, Production Manager for Allied Enterprises of Monroe County, Aberdeen, MS., has been employed with the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services since Nov. 1, 1982. She served as National President of NARU in 1994, President-elect in 1993, Secretary in 1992, and a Board member in 1990-91. She currently serves as NARI representative to the NRA Board of Directors.