Many Literacy First tutors go on to become teachers and educators after their year(s) of service. Former tutor Johanna credits her experience in the program with helping her realize she would be one of them.
Being a part of Literacy First changed my life. I was walking by a table that AmeriCorps had set up by the UT tower. Mary Ellen Isaacs (Literacy First Director) approached me and asked me if I was interested in being a tutor. She told me a little more about the program and asked if I was bilingual. I told her I was hesitant to tutor Spanish speaking children as I never learned the language academically. She stated that AmeriCorps would provide me training in order to help students learn to read. I signed up for the program and immediately received training.
The first student I tutored was a first grader. As I began to work with him, I learned so much about teaching students to read in Spanish. He began to improve his reading skills and even moved up several reading levels! It was such a wonderful experience that I decided to change my major to bilingual/ESL education. The student’s teacher also played a role in my decision to switch majors. I shared my thoughts with her about becoming a teacher. She offered to guide me through planning a couple of read-alouds with her students. I experienced such joy working with the students that year. I knew then I was meant to be a teacher.
I have spent my teaching career working with students mainly in bilingual/ESL programs and specialize in literacy instruction. I have been a classroom teacher, reading teacher, bilingual/ESL coordinator, administrator, and currently serve as an education specialist. I specifically thank Mary Ellen Isaacs for approaching me on the day I was not aware my life would change.