Empathetic and humble, Oakland Literacy Council (OLC) tutor Tricia Jacobs practices what she preaches – literally.
In the fall of 2020, Tricia moved to Michigan with her family when she became the senior pastor at University Presbyterian Church (UPC) in Rochester Hills. Like most newcomers, she was seeking to get involved in the community and build balance in her life.
“I knew from previous experience as a pastor that the church work can be all consuming, and so I really wanted to do something that was different from going to church meetings,” Tricia explains.
Tricia learned about the opportunity to tutor when OLC Executive Director Lisa Machesky presented to the UPC congregation following a Sunday worship service.
The University Presbyterian Church community is a wonderful partner and advocate for adult literacy. For several years, the congregation has donated a portion of one month’s collections to OLC. The church is sponsoring a refugee family from Afghanistan, and OLC is providing literacy tutoring for family members.
Tricia, along with church member and OLC reading/math tutor Leslie Littell, enrolled in tutor training shortly after the presentation.
Tricia has a unique appreciation for the challenges ESL students face. She was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo where her parents were missionaries.
“I really have an admiration for people who come from another country because I’ve traveled a lot to different countries, and I know how hard it is to adjust to a different language and different culture,” Tricia said.
Tricia was paired with “Julia,” who immigrated from Mexico with her teenage children three years ago. When she enrolled at Oakland Literacy Council in January 2021, Julia’s English reading and listening skills were at the low intermediate level and she had no computer experience.
Julia learned to use the computer provided by OLC. The pair meet twice a week on Zoom – early in the morning before they both go to work. They use the Burlington English online program to practice vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. They keep track of difficult words to pronounce and share a lot of laughs along the way, especially when working on tricky words like “toothache.”
A year later, Julia has progressed to the high intermediate level in listening and the advanced level in reading. She has gained confidence communicating with doctors, teachers, and customers at the barber shop where she works.
Julia is so grateful for Tricia, describing her as “superwoman!” The feeling goes both ways.
“It’s a great way to start my day and I so admire [Julia],” says Tricia. “She’s just such a positive spirit and just her smile encourages me, so it’s been a great joy to know her and to work with her.”