Meet Roy and Stephen.
Growing up in a poor household in Jamaica, Roy began working at a young age in the construction industry, manually moving concrete and forming buildings’ foundations. Life was hard, and he did not have regular meals. Consequently, due to his family’s need for Roy’s financial contribution, he could not attend school regularly. The work was labor-intensive and demanding. He found a new opportunity, cleaning the beaches in his community, turning them from dirty black sand back to their white sand beauty. Eventually, Roy married and immigrated to the U.S. in 2019.
In Jamaica, Roy spoke Patois, an English-based creole language with West African influences. While his spoken English was established, he did not know how to read or write. Roy recognized that these abilities are necessary to succeed in America.
In October 2021, workers age 25 and over with less education than a high school diploma had the highest unemployment rate of (8.8%). (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)
Roy became a student with Literacy DuPage in January 2021 and was matched with tutor Stephen.
Before retirement and becoming a tutor in December 2020, Stephen was an engineer for a large energy company. His career required international travel, and he enjoyed meeting people of other cultures. Stephen decided to become a volunteer tutor because it combined his love of diverse customs while advancing literacy.
Creativity at the core of tutoring
In the beginning, the pair worked on phonics. From Roy’s limited schooling in Jamaica, he knew his letters and some sight-words, but could not sound out a word. Roy has developed phonic skills and is comfortably tackling multisyllabic words.
As Roy’s vocabulary increased, Stephen wanted additional print material, which recycled targeted language from their lessons. To meet this need, he created several original stories. One of their favorites is about Roy playing cricket. Cricket was a big part of Roy’s life in Jamaica, and he is recognized as an excellent bowler (a pitcher).
Roy recently read his first book cover-to-cover and wrote a letter to his mother.
Over several Sundays, the pair read through Here Comes The Strikeout by Leonard Kessler. This story springboarded discussions between Stephen and Roy about the similarities and differences between cricket and baseball.
Additionally, the pair has spent a significant amount of time developing Roy’s writing skills. Recently, Roy wrote a letter to his mother for the first time in his life! It was a wonderful surprise for her.
Roy is also is exceeding on the job. He works in food distribution and recently received a raise. He no longer needs to ask for help to read or understand directions or signs. His bosses now rely on him to help his co-workers with printed information.
Roy’s long-term goal will make your taste buds happy!
Roy’s ultimate goal is to open a Caribbean restaurant. His food is famous within his circle of friends and co-workers. When the restaurant is up and running, we will let you know where you can find Roy’s delicious jerk chicken, spectacular vegan food, and mouthwatering rice and beans!