I began tutoring with The READ Center in September 2017.  The previous summer I had moved to Richmond from Ohio, where I was involved with volunteering at my son’s school for many years.  The move to Virginia was a challenging one for me and I felt that getting involved with both my son’s new school and the community would be a great way to help me with that transition.  I saw an advertisement for The READ Center and set it aside, tempted but knowing I didn’t have any experience teaching.  A few weeks later I got the courage to reach out, believing that this would be a great way to challenge myself to learn something new and to help others build essential skills.

As soon as I attended the orientation and tutor training, I knew that this opportunity was the right one for me.  I have always loved reading, but I’ve also taken it for granted.  Listening to a former READ Center staff member describe her grandfather’s illiteracy and the challenges it posed, and the various reasons why adults were unable to read, I was so moved.

After training, I became a classroom tutor with Janet’s morning class.  She is an amazing teacher — so creative, thoughtful and dedicated to her students.  And she is so supportive of her tutors, providing comprehensive lesson plans and helpful hints as well as her secrets to success (“Flexibility is the name of the game!”).  Right now, she, the students and we tutors are all getting comfortable in new territory — and staying flexible — as classes have moved online and we learn Zoom, Google Classroom and other technology together.

Janet, my fellow tutors and the caring, helpful office team are wonderful, but I have to say that it is students who keep me coming back.  They are truly inspirational.  I am in awe of their motivation and commitment to their learning.  They are undaunted by new challenges and eager to learn and to help one another.  They remind me that there is no excuse for not taking on challenges and learning something new, and also not to take for granted the gifts and opportunities in my own life.

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know several of the students in Janet’s class and they have a special place in my heart.  One was eager to push himself a bit harder and further and so, in addition to both of us remaining in Janet’s class, we began working together as a 1:1 pair about 18 months ago.  This spring and summer I was honored to be able to assist him as he sought to purchase a home.  The process is daunting enough when you can read, so I could only imagine what he faced.  But this student was patient and willing to put his trust in me and we figured it out together, with a some generous help from his Realtor and mortgage banker.  I recently attended his closing with him and am thrilled at what he has accomplished!

Volunteering as a tutor has been such a rewarding experience.  If you are looking for an opportunity to share your talents and time and make an impact in the lives of others — and get so much in return, I encourage you to consider becoming a READ Center tutor!

Kristin, READ Center Tutor