News & Blog: Tutors


Limerick Lessons with Steve and Maria

Interviewed by Katherine Payne (Literacy Coordinator) 

Steve Loar is a retired university professor of art, design, and woodworking. He now works as a sculptor, and his piece “Black Seam” won first prize in the 2018 West Michigan Art Competition. He has been working with his learner Maria since February 2017. Maria is a native of Lima, Peru.

July Steve Maria


How did it feel when you first started tutoring?

"Tutoring is a chance to be like that great teacher you had.. or maybe the great teacher you didn’t have. The first fear is in the beginning. Starting is scary – then you and your learner become partners in a quest." 

 What was one of your proudest moment as a tutor?

"For several weeks, I sent Maria a weekly limerick that used her pronunciation challenges in a silly but difficult phrase. For example, I sent her: Seven Spanish savages used straws to sip soda from the yellow jug. After a half-dozen of these, Maria wrote a phrase to me using her challenges: For the first time in my whole life I have seen the four seasons, the time flew very fast, and I remember when I was sick with the flu in the winter. I loved her delightful and brave accomplishment!

What were some difficulties you faced in tutoring?

"The hardest part for me is remembering that the time is entirely about Maria. It’s not about me or my life, but the pursuit is hers. The gift of time is about making her literacy journey faster, smoother, and safer."

What was your favorite tutoring session?

"I had repeatedly told her what a good storyteller she was and, finally, she took my encouragement and began to record some of her amazing stories in a special journal that I had given her. In just one week her goals changed from wanting a better job to wanting to write a book. She announced to her entire family in Peru and all of her friends - she was going to be an author!"

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