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Tutor Spotlight on Carole

Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Carole. We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!

Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.

I was very fortunate to grow up in a family where a college education was considered a “given.” My parents went to college and even a couple of my grandparents went to college.  At the same time, I was told which career paths were acceptable for a woman of my generation. I wanted to be a veterinarian but was told that was not appropriate for a young woman. So, I chose to become a teacher and then received a master’s degree to become a librarian.  I loved research, books, and helping kids with their assignments in a public library setting. But then I wanted to be an administrator/manager; so I furthered my career by getting my Master’s in Business Administration. I worked for 20 years in nonprofit management for a health and human services organization that helped the elderly.  During my career, I also helped children as a volunteer with the Girl Scouts, Equestrian Connection (therapy), Chicago Botanic Garden (horticultural therapy), and Gigi’s Playhouse (Down Syndrome Achievement Centers). Today, I continue to want to give back, in whatever way I can, to help students achieve their dreams and goals… or to inspire those who do not have access to opportunities that only a solid education can provide.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career?

My mom, who went back for her teaching degree at age 45, inspired me to always keep learning.  As a middle school math teacher, she was always proud when she could see the “spark” of learning ignite in her students. I was not a whiz at math, so she would stay up with me for hours working on problems that took me a bit longer to understand. She had the patience of a saint, and I like to think that’s why I know first-hand that learning is a process that is different for everyone. Around the dinner table, my brother and I would talk about what we learned that day at school and mom would talk about what she was teaching to her students. When I got past the age of the students she was teaching, she would ask me for my insight on how she might do better in her own teaching process.  She liked using real-life examples. I also had a couple of excellent teachers whom I remember for their encouragement and positivity.  They helped further my love of reading and writing for pure enjoyment.

What is one thing you are most proud of achieving in your life?

I am very proud of persevering to become a mother, even though it was a difficult time for me. I was told by family members and doctors to give up. After being married for 10 years, my husband and I eventually adopted two children. Like many children, their road to adulthood has been challenging at times.  They needed to learn things from experience, just like most of us. They struggled with knowing that they were adopted, and we went to many family counseling sessions. Happily, they are now grown, married, and I have two grandchildren.  And the cycle is beginning again. The little ones love to read, sing, dance, as well as cry and squabble.  One has learning disabilities and the other one has epilepsy. But navigating the difficult times with love and understanding, and coming out OK, is what I am most proud of.

Share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started teaching/tutoring.

I am currently teaching an 18-year-old young man with Ds, and more recently, he was also diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. He graduated from a traditional high school and is now in a transitional work program. He worked with two tutors before me because he (somehow) graduated without knowing how to read and write. His mom wanted him to be able to read a restaurant menu instead of him just always getting the same meal. He had never been taught any phonics and was reading a fraction of sight words at the second-grade level. When I started working with him, he was reluctant.  But in around six weeks, we started to develop a fun relationship around his love of anime.  He is now telling me fantastical stories that he tells me, and I am his scribe.  Then he rewrites them, and we work on different phonemes and how we can make other words. After every session, he gives the story and his handwritten sheets to his mom. He works hard to make her happy and proud of him, which she is, and therefore, he looks forward to working with me.  Win-Win. 

What do you enjoy most about teaching/tutoring?

I love the connection with the students which builds with time. I try to find what interests them and talk about it. For example, one of my current students likes to read and he wants to discuss Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  I read it years ago and needed to brush up on it.  We also work on ESL for a portion of our session, so this is a great book to discuss, given what I know about his background.  I will always study up on a topic to be a better tutor. This keeps me current on topics that are relevant to this generation. Brought up as an activist, I don’t want to live in the past. I am depending on today’s children to be strong, smart, and invested in whatever path they choose.

What do you like to do in your free time?

My kids tell me I am a perpetual motion machine. I am not sure I have a lot of free time; however, I walk and play with my dogs daily. I also garden and cook (and am always trying new recipes). I read and watch A LOT of movies.  Currently, I am trying to re-learn piano via an online course.  It’s not easy for me to find time to practice and just like most people, I feel guilty about that.  During the pandemic, I also tried to do Tai Chi online but would like to continue it in person ASAP.  I continue to volunteer as the pandemic allows, mostly through my synagogue, where we have many programs to help the homeless and refugees.

Tell about an amazing trip you took. Where did you go and what did you enjoy most?

I have been fortunate to do a fair amount of traveling. My best trip was to Costa Rica. The country has many different temperature zones and is quite difficult to traverse.  It was very tiring as the roads are bumpy and not paved (on purpose). But seeing the birds, monkeys, and other indigenous wildlife was amazing.  We went ziplining over the rainforest and horseback riding in large fields. The people were kind and welcoming. And the food was simple but delicious. At night, the sky was full of stars, and we saw a volcano erupt right outside the hotel where we were staying.  The hotel owner rings a bell, regardless of the time of day or night, to let guests know about the volcano.

If you were granted three wishes, what would they be and why?

  1. That people throughout the world can live in peace, understanding, and acceptance.
  2. That my family stays healthy, happy, and willing to help others in need.
  3. That the (collective) WE take better care of our planet so that it stops eroding due to our ignorance and lack of belief in science.

Is there something exciting you are working on now? What is it and why did you choose to start it?

I am working on my doctorate in Teaching, Learning, and Literacy. Have I mentioned that I am a lifelong learner? I like to know the “whys” behind everything. For example, I can help teach students to read and write, but I also want to know about different theories and options since not everyone learns the same way. When I received my Bachelor’s in Education (English), teachers had fewer resources available to them, e.g., technology. So much has changed in education in the past few decades and I want to stay ahead of the curve.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? What is it and why did it resonate with you?

There are so many books to even consider. I will say that I grew up really loving the Little House on the Prairie books because I could imagine myself as a pioneer and I loved the nuclear family.  I also related to the Anne of Green Gables series, because I felt like Anne, who is an outsider, walking to the beat of a different drummer. But I also still remember reading all the Winnie the Pooh books and the Wind in the Willows.  I am sure there are more current books too, but I often read for the emotions that stay with me longer. That’s why I love poetry too.  There are probably nuggets of good information in every book I read, but the books I read in childhood had the most lasting significance.

Please share your favorite Life Lesson quote. How is it relevant to your life? 

Two quotes by Maya Angelou:

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

“Do the best you can, until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

I remember Ms. Angelou on TV interviews and I just loved her voice and calm demeanor, even when she was talking about strident issues. Her wisdom grew out of real-life experiences. I marveled at her ability to be so poignant.  She really listened to people’s pain—emotional, spiritual, psychological—and knew that providing equal educational opportunities to all was the primary pathway to achievement.

Is there a person in the world with whom you would love to have a private lunch and why? He/she might just see this! 🙂 

Two people who I would have loved to have lunch with are Eleanor Roosevelt and Maya Angelou. They are incredible role models whom I greatly admire for their work, brilliant minds, and compassion.

Thanks, Carole! We Are So Lucky To Have You On The Team!

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