Literacy is a big deal to me. For years, I’ve thought, “I should become a tutor someday.” And now I am. This summer I found an agency that trained and matched tutors to students. My student (let’s call him “BR” ) and I have just begun our second semester together.

BR is a grown man. He has spent more than a decade in prison. His life has included a series of horrifying incidents, any of which might have put me under the bed in a fetal position to this very day. An undiagnosed medical condition led to him being told, as an elementary student, to “sit in the back and draw.” He was socially promoted throughout high school, because he was good at sports. He did not graduate. He read at a second grade level when we met.

Turns out we had a lot in common. One of his goals is to get a driver’s license; I needed to get one too. He is looking for work; so am I.

We meet twice a week. We’ve missed a few sessions, but we are making great progress. Not only has BR’s reading improved, his confidence has grown considerably. He gets as much pleasure from reading “Hop on Pop” out loud as I do from watching this big, tattooed man work his way through it.

It’s clear what BR has learned- he’s got his short vowels sounds “locked down,”  knows what a syllable is, and has mastered most of his sight words. I’ve learned that this is really fun, and that I am pretty good at it. I’ve also learned that doing it is almost as easy as just wanting to do it someday.