The next year I was hired to run the program and Connie was with me every step of the way. She became my literacy tutor, making sure I did a good job running the program and generally keeping me in line. In literacy, we often talk about learners taking ownership for the program. Well, let me tell you, Connie “owned” that program and she wasn't afraid to take me to task if she thought I was doing something wrong!
I learned three important lessons about adult learning from Connie:
1. You’re never too old to learn. Connie worked with her literacy tutor into her eighties, until she didn't have the energy to keep it up.
2. It's not the outcomes that matter. Connie never did learn to read and write very well. She didn't have any formal education in her first language, or English, and she was severely dyslexic. But she sure made good use of the skills she did have!
3. Relationships count. Connie and her literacy tutor continued to meet long after they quit working on Connie’s reading and writing. Her tutor would go over and help Connie with her bills, and her taxes, and anything else that came up. And it was Connie’s tutor who called to let me know that Connie had passed away. She had called to Connie to check in, but it wasn't Connie who called her back.
Connie’s been gone almost a year now and I think of her often. She tried my patience, pushed me out of my comfort zone, and made sure I was doing the best job I could. If she ever thought anyone wasn't treating me well she made sure everyone knew she had my back.
Connie always said, “I’m glad I got to go to the literacy program. I learned a lot, but mostly it made me a better person.” Well Connie, you made me a better person. At times, you were a hard literacy tutor to have but I wouldn't change it for anything. Thank-you!
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy