Minutiae · May 16, 2007

One down, 21 million to go!

Next week I find out who my next student will be, which is pretty exciting for me.

I tutor adults in reading for the local Adult Literacy program
. The local program in Fresno is funded by a measure to the Fresno Library, which supplies training, books and other materials. They also match up prospective learners to volunteer tutors.

I wasn’t even supposed to have my last student. He wasn’t just unable to read, he also has a form of dyslexia, and the local program is unable to support this. But when I met him, call him “P” he was so eager to learn that I couldn’t just let him go…

I learned a lot about dyslexia with P, I studied learning methods in the library and online, and asked questions from other dyslexics who had become successful readers. P’s problem is that he would switch the ends of a sentence in a paragraph, and he would flip the words from the sentence above or below into the sentence he was reading. He never reversed letters – he never wrote a backwards R. He would split a word in half and swap ends.

We got through it. A piece of cardboard with a hole cut into the size of a few words on a line became his reading guide. And then we started learning. He learned the difference between a vowel and consonant, and about the pesky “Y”. We started learning about word parts, and built up his phonemic awareness. (He has no problem getting the sounds in the right order, it’s only those darned squiggles on the page that don’t march in step!)

It’s been almost a year and a half since I met P, and he said he has achieved his goal – he can now read to his two sons. He can read the bible. (I steered him away from the King James version – we can’t be confusing him with archaic language just yet!) And after some help from his wife he’s started using email.

I have never been so proud to receive an email.

Best of all, he’s not just my student, he’s a friend now. I’ve helped his kids with math, taught his wife about what is available on the Internet. By helping him, my own life is richer.

I wasn’t supposed to tutor him this long, it isn’t part of the program. Screw it. And now he’s on his way and I let the Literacy Program know I was available again. I see them next week.

I can’t wait.