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The Holyoke Tutor/Mentor program connects volunteers to adult education classes in Holyoke.

Awesome (aka Student of the Year)

Awesome (aka Student of the Year)

"Adult learners are awesome"

This is how I start most presentations I give about adult ed. There are other things to say about the field that are important, but this feels like an essential foundation for the discussion.

They're awesome because education is important enough in their lives that they're fitting it in among work, kids, the friend who needs a hand, and errands that need to be run, the phone calls, the paperwork, the chores that need to be done, all the responsibilities that fill our days as adults who need to get things done. (Did you ever prioritize education that much? I'm not sure I ever did)

They're awesome because they're facing down years of failures in school and trying again, and charging through a demanding standardized test to do it. And/or, they're facing down a new country and a new language that (while lovely) is maddeningly complicated and illogical. (English must seem like it's designed to be difficult)

They're awesome because they have all decided that this is the time they're going to do the thing that will change their lives for the better – go to school, meet the goal, get the job, be an example for the kids, learn English, go to college, change careers, face the fear. 

Have you tried this lately? Found time for a big project, faced a challenge, changed your life? It's hard, even with more safety net and support than most of our students have.

A roomful of people doing it anyways is an inspiring thing.

An awesome thing.

But most of them, most of the time, don't know it.

When we ask volunteers about their experience, they say:

"It's really marvelous to see people struggle [and] then witness the amazing progress they make"

"The students' tenacity to learn has inspired me within my own work and life"

"The students are my inspiration. I learn the most from them."

But I don't hear that from students. 

I hear "I'm bad at math" or "My English is not good"

So, this spring, I'm going to do my best to make sure one student, at least, knows that what they're doing is awesome.... our first Student of the Year. 

Teachers, staff and tutors, nominations for Student of the Year are due by May 15. Tell me about a student who demonstrates our mission (key points: 'everyone can teach, learn and contribute' and 'adult learners pursuing their dreams') and I'll tell them they're awesome.

(We're also celebrating a Tutor of the Year, check out this post for my thoughts on what it takes to be a tutor)

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Saturday, 13 August 2022

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