Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Azusa Library : : Literacy Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteer Spotlight:  Tutor Bill Bertonneau
Azusa Literacy Update: 4.2015

This month, the Literacy Update is beginning a new section for the newsletter — Tutor Spotlight.  It’s an opportunity to recognize a volunteer who displays exemplary behaviors for learners and other tutors in the Literacy Program.  It’s an opportunity to get a perspective on the program through the eyes of a tutor.

For our first article we proudly shine the spotlight on Bill Bertonneau.  Bill has been a Basic Literacy tutor since Fall of 2012. Bill is a retired teacher. He was a U.S. Government and History teacher at El Monte High School for 31 years.

The following is an interview with Bill, conducted by Communications Intern Melissa Martin.

“Volunteering creates a national character in which the community and the nation take on a spirit of compassion, comradeship and confidence.” — Brian O'Connell

Melissa:  Can you tell if you've helped to make a difference in a student’s life?  Any examples you can share?
Bill:  I worked with my first student for slightly over a year. She was a high school graduate, and she went to Pasadena City College after she graduated; however, after a few weeks, she realized she didn’t have the writing skills necessary to complete one semester. When she came to the program, she could read books, but she could not form one sentence. Her writing skills were horrible. She wanted to fortify her vocabulary and grammar, so we did a lot of writing in our sessions. I would have her read articles from the Los Angeles Times, or stories she enjoyed reading, and she would write summaries on the articles. I can honestly say that over the course of the year her writing skills significantly improved. She was writing much better than she did at the beginning of the year, and she was even able to write resumes. She became more confident in her abilities to write complete and comprehensive paragraphs.

The student I am working with now is very determined to write English. He speaks and reads very well, but does not know writing skills such as grammar. He would like to learn how to use idioms and prepositions in addition to growing his vocabulary.

Melissa:  Has being a volunteer tutor made a difference in your life in any way?
Bill:  After having taught students for so many years, it’s nice to be able to do something that I want to do that’s related to teaching. It’s also nice to help other people improve their skills and learn something that might help them.

Melissa:  What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a Basic Literacy tutor?
Bill:  It’s not your basic ESL session. These students have a foundation of [speaking] English. It’s always good to help other people, particularly if you have skills that you can share with them. When people are being helped, they appreciate it. In this program, you’re teaching people that want to be here and learn, as opposed to people who are forced to be in school.
You find out that basically, most people are pretty nice.

The Literacy Program would like to say thank you to Bill.
We, along with his students, feel that he’s pretty nice, too.

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