Less than a year ago, Doug was looking forward to retirement, and on a whim, he decided to give tutoring a try. He gravitated toward tutoring Adult Basic Education because of his own love of reading. He’s been volunteering non-stop ever since! He obviously enjoys it; after each class, he beams almost as much as his learner.
But he takes learning how to be an effective tutor very seriously. He spends time researching materials, analyzes successes and challenges, and accepts just about every chance to join workshops and collaborate with other tutors. Most importantly, Doug respects his student and involves him in the decision-making about lessons and activities for his own learning, and has fun experimenting with different approaches to keep learning interesting.
If you came to Scrabble in the City last year, you probably saw Doug’s smile and heard his laughter – it was ever-present – and he wasn’t even playing, he was a volunteer judge! We appreciate the 100+ hours of joy Doug has already brought to Literacy Advance, and we look forward to seeing his wonderful smile every week.
Why do you volunteer at Literacy Advance?
As I was getting ready to retire, I started to look for volunteer opportunities that would be a bit more personally rewarding than my information technology career had been. Fairly quickly in my search, I found Literacy Advance and it seemed to be a perfect match for me. Reading has always been such an important part of my life, so it seemed obvious how much a difference helping someone learn or improve their reading could make in their lives.
Somewhat foolishly, I tended to think of reading based solely on the joy I get out of reading for the fun of it. I hadn’t fully considered or comprehended the more practical realities of how difficult day-to-day life activities are when one can’t read.
What inspires you most about volunteering?
The students! They all are so enthusiastic, determined and grateful. I leave each tutoring session thankful to be working with someone who is so excited to be learning, and so grateful for the changes that the classes are making in their lives.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
First of all, it’s a lot more fun than I was expecting (we laugh a lot in class!). Beyond that, I find that it’s far more rewarding than I had ever imagined. Things like helping a student read medical information or review an apartment lease hadn’t even entered my mind, but every time we do something like that in class, I leave knowing how much I’ve helped then.
We read the newspaper quite a bit in class and I really enjoy discussing the articles after we read them. It’s great to have those conversations with someone with a vastly different background as well as someone who is learning about world events for the very first time.
What strategies do you keep in mind when you tutor?
I try to keep it fun and interesting, while tailoring the lessons to what the student likes. I was a bit freaked out the first couple of classes as everything seemed a bit loose on how to structure things in the class. Very quickly, I realized that this was a big plus. I get to try things out and see how they go. Literacy Advance has lots of different resources and great people who are happy to answer questions and give advice (staff as well as other tutors).
What advice do you have for other people who are thinking of volunteering?
Do it!! It’s so incredibly rewarding when you see the progress your students are making and how thankful they are for the time you’re investing in their future.
What's your favorite book?
That’s just an impossible question! I’ll just say that it tends to be the most recent book I've finished.
Thank you so much, Doug!
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