News & Blog: Advocate Spotlights

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Johanna Schulte is a Grand Rapids native. She works in the City of Grand Rapids Community Development department and has been tutoring with the Literacy Center since 2017. She recently spoke with her Literacy Coordinator about her experience. 

Why did you decide to tutor with the Literacy Center?

I was interested in finding a volunteer opportunity and found out about the work of the Literacy Center from a friend. I wanted to be involved in work that would contribute to making our community a more welcoming and equitable place.

Tell me about your learner. What are you learning from her?

The woman I tutor is working on obtaining her GED. She has very strong English skills, despite it being her second language, but wanted to improve her reading and writing skills. She has truly been an inspiration in my life. She’s an amazing mother to three awesome kids, works very hard at her job, and still manages to take GED prep classes and meet with tutors multiple nights a week. I have no idea how she finds the time or the energy, but I am regularly inspired by her enthusiasm for life. She and I became fast friends and I am so grateful for having her and her family in my life.

What is one of your proudest moments as a tutor?

Our tutoring sessions turned into more of a book club as my learner was working on reading faster and for comprehension. As weJohanna1 worked our way through different texts, she became able to more clearly articulate the meaning of the passages and describe different literary tools (foreshadowing, tense, voice, etc.). The more we read, the more confident she became.

Why is this worthwhile to you personally?

I want West Michigan to be a place where everyone is welcomed and can lead a fulfilling life. Our friends and neighbors for whom English is not their first language, and those who struggle with literacy generally, face many barriers to accessing the resources many of us take for granted. I want to take an active role in making the community a better place.

What would you say to someone who is considering tutoring?

No one learns a language on their own. All of us owe our literacy skills to the numerous teachers who have helped along the way. I have found it a very rewarding and fun way to give back and support others!

Our tutor orientations have gone online! If you're interested in learning more, sign up for a brief orientation at www.literacycenterwm.org/events/volunteer

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