Volunteers are our most valuable resources at Learn to Read. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to achieve our mission. Here are excerpts from the testimonials of some of our volunteers.
Want to share some terrific news with you! Not surprising, neither of my students have ever read a book (on their own, cover to cover). So, after eight weeks together, I introduced a Reading Log last week and let my students choose a book they wanted to read. The idea was to encourage them to read a little of the book each day (or as much as possible) over time and record the date and pages read in their log (and this is addition to regular homework each week).
Well, today I asked how the reading was going and Sylvia told me she read the entire book (“Buddy, the First Seeing Eye Dog”, 44 pages)– the first in her life! She was very excited and proud – and asked for another book! She really enjoyed it.
Teresa is also doing well – as you know, she is shy and does not like to read aloud – but today, she volunteered to go first in our reading aloud segment – and she did great! She has been very engaged and completes all of her work (as does Sylvia).
I can’t tell you how excited I am about their accomplishments – it makes all of my efforts worthwhile! I love it!
Reading, the Portal to Adventures
I recently took on a quilting project that my mother tells me I vowed to do. Hmmm! When did I offer her that help? LOL I don’t quilt, but I visited my library and borrowed a how-to quilting book. There’s my goal, and I have the motivation and the means to meet the challenge because I can read.
When I was young, my mother and teachers taught me to read for comprehension. They taught me to write with clarity and to speak without ambiguity. I do try. But it was my mother who taught me how to study and that learning to read was great fun. She introduced me to the dictionary, thesaurus, and to the public library.
Not everyone had or has the supportive environment in which to read that I had early in my development. But as adults, we can find those opportunities everywhere. The tutor can help the learner to develop achievable goals and to offer direction on which roads to travel (the library is a great starting place) to see those goals come to fruition. The journey need not be tedious, and I strive to make it a rewarding experience for the learner as well as for myself. Innately, we all want to help others. We all like to share our knowledge, and all of us have something worthy of sharing. But, it’s not about the tutor and it’s not about the student. It’s about the goals we help develop and the motivation we offer to meet those goals.
The enjoyment I get from reading is why I excite others to do the same, why I hope to sow the mental seed that learning to read will not only make life easier in so many ways but will also offer positive opportunities that would, otherwise, not present themselves to the adult learner. Or to the tutor! What better skill to share than that of reading?
I have been teaching adults to read for seven years, six of those with Learn to Read. I love doing it; I think it is one of the things I was meant to do. When I am with my students, I feel myself light up inside. Overstatement? No.
My students’ ages have been from 17 to 70+. Some come to LTR as a condition of their parole. Some are living on the street – I give them zip-loc bags to keep their papers dry. Most are embarrassed and find comfort in the group. Many spent much of their school years in the last row of the classroom. I once had a woman who came to class twice with black eyes and swollen lips. Her “fiance'” didn’t want her to learn to read. She didn’t come back. There have been recovering addicts, ADHD sufferers, flagrant gays who were bullied out of school and people who didn’t have a childhood.
I have watched a parade of hopeful people come through my classroom and I have been awed by their courage and resiliency. They have gotten their driver’s licenses (including commercial driver’s licenses), jobs and promotions, found the confidence to leave abusive partners, read street signs and fortune cookies and medicine bottles and Bibles and business letters and textbooks and stories to children. All of this I have watched and my students have watched each other and we have all cheered.
I have been a librarian for 35 years – legal, medical, public and academic. I have two children and 6 grandchildren. My husband of 43 years and I have traveled extensively.