“I have a lot of patience,” says tutor Turesa Lewis. “I take the time to listen. You need patience if you’re really going to help someone.”
Turesa currently tutors two students for Oakland Literacy Council, one foreign born, the other native born. Turesa has taken the time to focus on each woman’s individual goals.
Her student from South Korea has applied to become a United States citizen. Turesa tailored her lessons plans accordingly. First, Turesa helped her student complete the immigration application. Then they worked together on the 100 possible civics questions that might appear on the written exam and oral interview. “She’s prepared,” Turesa proudly says of her student.
Her American student had different goals. A learning disability had interfered with the student’s awareness of phonics and, therefore, limited her ability to read. To help this student, Turesa sought extra training. A special workshop hosted by Washtenaw Literacy gave Turesa new skills and resources to try with her student. Now, Turesa boasts, the student’s “reading is improving. That’s outstanding.”
As a sign of the improvement, the student invited Turesa to see her sing in her church choir. Previously, the choir director had to record the lyrics to hymns because she couldn’t read them. Now, the student learns the lyrics on her own, and she wants to be able to read the newspaper.
“What keeps me going as a tutor is seeing the improvement with my students and seeing them reach their goals,” Turesa says. “This is what gets me up on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, preparing my lesson plans before my tutoring sessions. My students know I’m here for them.”
Turesa always had a passion for language arts, even though she had a career in information technology. While working for AT&T, she volunteered as a tutor for children. Then she saw an advertisement from Oakland Literacy Council to tutor adults. She became a certified tutor for the Council four years ago. Children aren’t always eager to learn, she realized, but adults are usually highly motivated. “I think that’s one reason I enjoy tutoring so much,” she says.