Tutor Spotlight 

Alan's Tutor Story

     When our tutor, Alan Corson, received a call in the fall of 2016 about a new literacy student, he was not aware that he would get to know the student’s husband and daughter as well! That is exactly what happened, and progress has been great due to Alan’s tutoring, and the constant help and support of the family.

     This student experienced a medical event which took away her ability to read, and she turned to Literacy Volunteers for help.

     Alan has used the Wilson Method with the student, and in fact he encouraged the student’s husband to take the Wilson training offered by Literacy Volunteers. With so much support, this student has progressed through levels 1 and 2 and is now working on levels 3.1 and 3.2 in less than a year. She also practices reading some children’s literature for enrichment.

     Our office manager, Danielle, is also part of this team effort, and she runs off worksheets for the student’s husband to pick up at the office.

     This student’s goal is to learn to read again, and she is well on her way with Literacy Volunteers and a supportive family assisting her!

Tom's Tutor Story Continued...

For the first part of the story click this LINK

​​      Tom has been working with Ezra for about 2 ½ years. Together they made the decision that Ezra could get his regular high school diploma by 2016, if he” put his nose to the grindstone” and committed to working with Tom until this goal could be realized. Tom introduced Ezra to the Mid-Maine Regional Adult Community Education program, and with the help of Alice Openshaw, the intake coordinator at the program, they came up with the required courses that Ezra needed to graduate. Initially, Ezra passed a required math course and an English course. He then continued on to take a U.S.Government night course, a keyboarding course, and an Odysseyware 300 computer science course during the fall of the 2015-2016 school year. Ezra was able to pass these courses as well as his 2nd semester classes of Odysseyware 400 computer science, U.S. History, and Odysseyware computer English by working with Tom on a regular basis at Waterville High School in the afternoon at least once, if not twice, a week for 3+ hours. They would work on the science and English classes and then finished up homework for the U.S. History class held in the evening. Alice also worked with Ezra on some required life skills essays.

      Because attendance was an essential part of earning one's diploma, some of the ground rules for the adult education program were: miss one class, you can make it up, miss two classes, and they must be made up with the student receiving only half a credit, miss three classes and there will be no credit. It was crucial that Ezra not miss class, so Tom took it upon himself to transport Ezra to the classes / tutoring sessions. He would call Ezra the night before the class to remind him and, on most occasions, Ezra was ready to go.

In spite of various obstacles that cropped up during their time together, Tom and Ezra were able to complete all the requirements for graduation and were rewarded with Ezra's participation in Waterville's graduation exercises in May of 2016. It was a cooperative effort and involved a great deal of determination that was focused on successfully achieving their goal.

     Tom is a firm believer in the literacy program and is pleased with what he and Ezra have accomplished. It has not been an easy road, but it was a learning experience for them both and one that, hopefully, will lay the groundwork for future experiences.

     When asked if he had any suggestions for the literacy volunteer program, Tom replied that for other tutors' peace of mind and continued longevity in the program, he would recommend that tutors: 1. “set up hard and fast limits as to what are reasonable expectations for the success of the student-tutor relationship” and 2. “avoid providing student transportation on a regular basis.”

      Needless to say, Literacy Volunteers Waterville Area is extremely proud of Tom and Ezra's success. It isn't often that a student is able to complete his/her high school diploma and it is only through a solid working relationship between student and tutor that such a goal can be achieved.


Congratulations to them both!!

After 25 years of carpentry, I hung up my hammer and went back to

school.  I was in Pennsylvania at the time, and looking for gainful

employment that would keep me closer to home and my family.

My wife pulled me in to teaching Sunday School, and I landed a graduate

assistantship at Edinboro University, eventually ending up with a Masters degree in Literacy.  It was after graduation that I learned I was well educated, but still did not know how to teach people to read. After many hours of trial and error, years of practice in schools working with children from preschool through high school, and a good deal of determination, I could finally say that I know what I was doing.  And then I retired.


But I did not really retire.  I switched over to working with adults, and today, I teach adults to read through Lawrence High School Adult Education. 


Switching from children to adults was not difficult.  Adults go through many of the same phases as children when learning to read.  In class, I use the Wilson reading method, which teaches students the alphabet and how to identify and use different sounds to form words. We play games like BANG! and Bingo with commonly used “high frequency” words, and we read together from books that we choose based on the individual interests of the students.  Soon, we will be reading from Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Don Fendler and Joseph B. Eagan.


One of the biggest challenges is finding interesting reading material for adults.  There just are not that many authors targeting the adult learning community.  Having interesting reading material to work with is just as important at 62 years old as it is at 8 years old.  The books have to hold the students’ attention and interest. Use Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) for example.  He was asked to write an interesting primer for school children.  He was frustrated with being limited to the “controlled word” list from which he could select words for his story.  Eventually, he landed on rhyming "cat" and "hat" and The Cat in the Hat was born. I think The Cat in the Hat is a great book. There’s good dialogue and it’s repetitive.  Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones series is also great.  Junie B. Jones presents some unique challenges, because Junie B. Jones sometimes mispronounces words, so in the books some words are spelled the way Junie B. Jones pronounces them – not correctly.  I occasionally find myself surprised at how people can cipher the actual word from the mispronounced and misspelled word.


A few years back, I worked with a woman – we’ll call her Jane – who lives in a small town in Maine.  Jane was in her late 50s and had graduated from high school but she could not read. She hid this from friends and family.  Road signs, church notices, newspapers, her bible…they were all mysteries to her. There are a lot of emotions tied up in not being able to read, and you have to break up that emotional log jam and decide how much information will be shared with people you are close with. Jane was no exception.  We worked together for two and a half years, from having no ability to read, to reading at an eighth grade level. There were some hard days as the log jam broke.  But it was worth it.  Today, Jane reads to her granddaughter.


All you need is a motivated teacher and a motivated student.  After that, you just find the teaching process that works for them together.

Mike's Tutor Story


Joanna's Tutor's Story

                                              We were paired up years ago; it's been a long time. Joanna wanted to be able to read to her kids. She had dropped out of school. She had a learning disability: trouble reading, sounding out words, and mixed up the letters b and d.

I wasn't a teacher and had no background in education but used the methods recommended in the tutor manual to teach her. We did drills to learn word patterns, and I provided worksheets. We met off and on and then more regularly.

Then she wanted to get a driver's license. We studied for the permit. She passed on the second try and got a driver's license. That was when she chose a third goal - getting a HS diploma. Taking computer-learning courses, she attended in the basement of the HS and using their computer, signed up for different subjects, eventually achieving this goal too!


A few years ago she decided she wanted to attend KVCC. I helped her choose an area of study. Weekly meetings supplied moral support and guidance based on her needs. Last year she got an Associates Degree in Education!

This was all her doing, her drive, her commitment. It was nice to see her accomplish all these goals. No one in her family had ever gone to college. Her sons were there to see their mom go to college. Now we'll see what they do.


Joanna's Tutor's Story -
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© 2015 Literacy Volunteers- Waterville Area


Literacy Volunteers- Waterville Area

105 Kennedy Memorial Drive

Waterville, ME 04901


 (207) 873- 7786