Tutor Spotlight

We're excited to shine the spotlight on a few of our valued volunteer tutors. If you like what you read and you'd like to become Literacy Volunteer, visit our Become a Tutor Page, to learn more.

Click on the names to jump to individual profiles: George, Lakayla, Sue, John, Eunhee, or MaryLewis


George Michie

Please briefly introduce yourself. Tell us a bit about your background and why you were interested in volunteering with Literacy Volunteers.
I taught High School for a decade before getting into marketing and helping to build a successful online marketing agency. After retiring I wanted to get back to my roots as a teacher...and student.

What do you enjoy most about being a tutor?
Meeting wonderful, gritty, determined people with vastly different life experiences.

How has the pandemic changed your approach to tutoring?
Working through Zoom has been challenging, but not impossible.

What advice do you have for new tutors?
Laugh with your students, laugh about the absurdities that are the English Language. Marvel at the remarkable people you work with. Celebrate the small victories.

If you could pick one word to describe your volunteer experience, what would it be and why?
Educational. I've learned more from my students than they have from me.

What other things, for work or play, do you do to fill your days?
I play tennis, enjoy nature, and tutor math at CHS and the Adult Learning Center.

 

 


Lakayla Swann

Please briefly introduce yourself. Tell us a bit about your background and why you were interested in volunteering with Literacy Volunteers.
I am a senior in high school. This fall I will be attending Radford University to major in Music Therapy. I came across the Literacy Volunteers through an online search. I had some volunteer requirements for graduation that needed to be fulfilled, and this looked like a great opportunity. The rest is history!

What do you enjoy most about being a tutor?
I love being able to offer insight into topics that my student is unfamiliar with. Seeing her face light up as she answers correctly just makes me so happy.

How has the pandemic changed your approach to tutoring?
The pandemic has caused tutoring to be 100% online through Zoom. This is only a minor setback however because the main goal of tutoring is still obtainable. If only we could have those in-person connections.

What advice do you have for new tutors?
If you’re feeling hesitant about tutoring just do a bit of self-reflection, and make sure you have reliable technology. Go for it! You can make a difference in someone’s life.

If you could pick one word to describe your volunteer experience, what would it be and why?
Rewarding. I am satisfied knowing that what I am doing is bettering someone in the long run.

What other things, for work or play, do you do to fill your days?
I absolutely LOVE singing, as well as eating French fries! Family Guy is what I enjoy watching during my free time.


Sue Klett

Please briefly introduce yourself. Tell us a bit about your background and why you were interested in volunteering with Literacy Volunteers.
I'm a retired high school teacher (English Lit and Reading Specialist), and a former journalist. I recently relocated to Nelson County from northern Virginia for the outdoor life, the beautiful scenery, and the proximity to Charlottesville and its wonderful vibe. Still, I missed teaching a bit. Plus, I'm always curious about people and their back story. So naturally, that led me to become a tutor. It's been a good fit.

What do you enjoy most about being a tutor?
Without a doubt, I am interested in the lives of people from others cultures, especially immigrants from countries I haven't visited. Learning is a two-way street. I've enjoyed what I've learned from my student.

How has the pandemic changed your approach to tutoring?
I'm a newbie tutor, so I started online with my student. It's been interesting to share my tutoring experience with some of my friends who are still teaching and have had to "go virtual" due to the pandemic. We share some of the same challenges. There's no question that meeting on Zoom is convenient. But in-person instruction is still more efficient and effective because there are fewer distractions--on both ends.

What advice do you have for new tutors?
Do your homework. Plan your lesson. Students appreciate structure. And plan for contingencies should you run into technical difficulties (which you will). But be flexible. If your discussions lead off on a worthwhile tangent--make it a teachable moment. Those are the times my student and I remember most.

If you could pick one word to describe your volunteer experience, what would it be and why?
Enlightening. There's a lot to learn about and appreciate from other cultures.

What other things, for work or play, do you do to fill your days?
I'm on the Board of the Nelson County Community Fund (a non-profit grant-making group serving at-risk Nelson Co. residents). I also volunteer for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and Here to Stay Wintergreen. When I'm not running around the county, I read--lots, and bike, hike, and travel.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The support and resources provided by the LVCA staff are exceptional. I could not be an effective tutor without your encouragement.

 


John Schroll

Please briefly introduce yourself. Tell us a bit about your background and why you were interested in volunteering with Literacy Volunteers.
I am a retired psychologist and tutoring gives me the chance to help people one-to-one.  I also enjoy learning about other cultures and being the "student" myself.  

What do you enjoy most about being a tutor?
I love the one-to-one and seeing their face light up when they "get it" and when I tell them over and over that English is hard and follows its own crazy rules.  

How has the pandemic changed your approach to tutoring?
It helped me learn Zoom a bit but also makes it harder for the student to hear sounds and see my mouth.  I've had to be more creative and work in hour-long sessions.

What advice do you have for new tutors?
Take it slow at first, get to know your student, and ask about his/her life. Also, be aware that people seeking help can feel some shame or embarrassment and that some don't like being so dependent.  Allow them to teach you whenever you get the chance.

If you could pick one word to describe your volunteer experience, what would it be?
Heartwarming.

What other things, for work or play, do you do to fill your days?
Basket making, reading, cooking, tennis, woodworking.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
It's a great opportunity with an outstanding staff.

 


Eunhee Lee

Please briefly introduce yourself. Tell us a bit about your background and why you were interested in volunteering with Literacy Volunteers.
I was born in South Korea and my parents immigrated to Canada when I was two years old.  They did not know English when they arrived. This made basic problem solving much more difficult for them and it also isolated them socially. My time with Literacy Volunteers is a regular reminder for me of how difficult their lives were (it is very easy for me to get into my bubble!).  This helps me understand them in ways I never could before this and when I was younger.

What do you enjoy most about being a tutor?
I love learning about other cultures, history, and most importantly food!

How has the pandemic changed your approach to tutoring?
It opened my eyes to how much my student was motivated to learn when she still wanted to meet (safely or virtually) during the pandemic.

What advice do you have for new tutors?
You will learn so much from them!

If you could pick one word to describe your volunteer experience, what would it be?
Purposeful.

What other things, for work or play, do you do to fill your days?
I love to run, play tennis, hike with my dogs and husband. My fears are turmeric and parallel parking!

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The LVCA staff is amazing!  They are supportive and understand what motivates volunteers.


MaryLewis Meador 

Please briefly introduce yourself. Tell us a bit about your background and why you were interested in volunteering with Literacy Volunteers.
I'm a Charlottesville native (married to a Charlottesville native) and have two grown children living out west. My day job is teaching yoga group classes and private yoga.  I particularly enjoy working individually with a yoga client to alleviate pain or work towards better flexibility. Reading brings a sense of wonder to, inspires, and broadens my life--I'm never without a book. So when I learned about Literacy Volunteers and realized I could combine my love of words with helping an emerging English reader, I knew this was my place.

What do you enjoy most about being a tutor?
Helping ESL students embrace their new language skills is such a privilege. We share our lives through our lessons and their stories are incredible. Being a LV tutor is a unique way to meet and assist people trying to integrate into our community and I love being a part of that.

How has the pandemic changed your approach to tutoring?
Better preparation! If a lesson didn't fill the time when I was meeting my student in the LV office, there were so many available resources to fall back on (games, books, word blocks etc.). Now I find I need to have back up plans in case a lesson is shorter, less interesting, or just flops. But, there is no commute time! And that has made it easier for my very busy student to fit lessons into her week.

What advice do you have for new tutors?
1. Your student is also nervous at the beginning! 2. Steven (and the whole LV staff) are great resources. 3. Take 5 deep, slow (yogic) breaths after you ask a question, and give the student time to answer (before rushing to fill the void).

If you could pick one word to describe your volunteer experience, what would it be and why?
Life-enhancing. I've met these unforgettable women who are leaving an imprint on my life. Their life stories are remarkable and their courage with learning a new language and culture is inspirational.

What other things, for work or play, do you do to fill your days?
Teach yoga, hike, run, read, garden, foster SPCA kittens (I have 5 newborns and a mama right now, in case anyone at LV is looking to adopt...)

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
There is joy in language learning together--we laugh a lot.

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