Editor’s note: Today is the first in a series of Q&As to help you get to know our board! We are starting off with Allison Matthews, who has been with us for a little over a year now.
What brought you to Turning Pages?
I come from a family of educators, and in high school, I became especially interested in helping people learn to read. I left Columbia for college, then started a career as an elementary-school teacher. When I moved back to Columbia, I wanted to find a place to volunteer during my summers off. I decided to look for a place that works with adult learners, and, voila! I found Turning Pages.
How long have you been working with your learner?
Ms. G. and I have been working together since June 2012.
What is one of your best “success” moments in working with Ms. G?
When we first started working together, Ms. G would often read through a paragraph quickly, making several errors that affected the meaning of the text, and just move on without understanding what she had read. I brought this to her attention and taught her the strategy of stopping after each paragraph to tell what she learned in her own words. Now, I’ve started noticing that she stops herself to summarize even without me reminding her.
Tell us about a challenge and how you negotiated it.
An ongoing challenge with tutoring is finding the best instructional methods and texts for Ms. G. She has some very distinct strengths as a reader, along with some significant challenges. I’m constantly having to adjust my approach to find what’s most effective.
As a board member, the main challenge is feeling overwhelmed by all the work we’d like to do to improve the services we offer our learners. I think we as a team have gotten a lot better about prioritizing what needs to be done, then dividing the labor so we can knock it all out. It’s an exciting time.
What is your favorite thing about Turning Pages?
It’s definitely the people! Ms. G. and I have built a great friendship. I enjoy working with and learning from my fellow board members, all of whom are passionate about adult literacy. And every volunteer I have gotten to meet is so dedicated and kind. It’s just so encouraging to be a part of this organization.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Turning Pages?
Try to make myself useful! I believe it’s very important to be active as a Christian and church member, so that’s a big part of my life. I teach fourth grade Language Arts and Social Studies, so that’s another sizeable chunk, for sure. Other than that– I dabble in music, writing, and the (very) occasional jog!
Are you reading anything good lately?
The book of Isaiah and Time Magazine.
What is your favorite book now? From childhood?
Oh, man. There are so many good ones out there. But my all-time favorite is still Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. I mean, it’s got adventure, solid character development, humor, important life lessons, and an astounding number of puns. What more could you really ask for in a book?
If you could have lunch with one author, living or dead, who would it be?
If I wanted to enjoy my lunch and learn something, it would be C.S. Lewis. He offers so much wisdom through his writing– and humor, too.
If I wanted to tell someone off while eating lunch, it would be Ernest Hemingway. I would encourage him to be a less terrible human being and to occasionally try writing longer sentences.
If you had to choose between visiting Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, or Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, which would it be?
One of the most important questions in life. Both would be cool, but I would go to Hogwarts. If I went to the factory, I would probably fall into the chocolate lake and get stuck in the pipe just like Augustus Gloop.