Meet Our Tutors & Students

Rewards of Tutoring

"Tyrone now has a steady job and is ever so close to getting his driver's license. These are incredible achievements in under a year for someone whose inability to read has been a major deterrent for his entire life. The pride and increased self image Tyrone has achieved as a result of these accomplishments has been inspiring for me."
Chris Tragakis
Basic Literacy Tutor

"Victoria was never taught to read or write despite the fact that she is intelligent, enthusiastic, gracious, and studious. She has advanced rapidly during weekly sessions, independent studies, and weekly homework. She can write quite a beautiful letter now. Her math has become quite good. She has managed to turn her life around, which as a mother is important. She has a job now and has been able to arrive at enough independence to live at Guest House instead of the shelter."
Linda Jane Roberts
Basic Literacy Tutor

I have been tutoring Fatima for about three months now. Iím always amazed at how bright she is and how well sheís progressing. Tutoring is not only personally rewarding, but itís also challenging and a great way to develop my creative and communications skills.
Carol Cohen
ESL Tutor

The Literacy Council has given me the opportunity to teach as well as to learn. Garth is an outstanding student. His attitude and willingness brighten my day.
Dana Phillips
Basic Literacy Tutor

More than anything, Alice and I have fun learning. The rewarding part of teaching Alice is her enthusiasm for learning. This has spilled over to her two daughters, 7 and 4, who are avid readers and enjoy reading to me!
Gail Bamford
Basic Literacy Tutor

Student Success Stories

"My reading and writing has improved over a short period of time. Pixie's teaching strategy and technique are very unique and special. She has a very special gift in her, which is very nice and makes me feel very good from the inside out."
ESL Student

"Before I met Chris I had a big problem reading and writing and I was embarrassed because I had that problem. Now I feel good about myself. Chris has helped me a lot. He has taught me how to read and write and to get my driver's license and to read a map. And he takes his time with me doing my work."
Basic Literacy Student

"Mary has been a great tutor. She is also a great friend who has understood my needs as a student and she has done everything a tutor can do to help me learn how to write and read English as my second language."
ESL Student

"Catherine has gone all the way. On her free days she has taken Michelle on outings, often stopping at a bookstore where Michelle then could choose a book, which they would read in their reading sessions once every week."
Mother of Basic Literacy Student

Ian, at age 29 is learning to read. And as a result, he says, "Iím a totally different person. A lot of frustration is gone now, a lot of stress." Ian dropped out of school in the eleventh grade, and, after entering ourprogram started his own business. As owner of a limousine service, Ian attributes a good deal of his success to learning how to read, an activity he enjoys sharing with his two young children. "I love words," states Ian, "I wish Iíd started reading earlier." Ianís inspirational life story was featured in the Washington Post Magazine on May 28, 1995.

Zainab, a Somali born in South Yemen, arrived in the United States as a refugee with her husband and two sons. Since entering our program in 1990, Zainab has obtained a child care providerís license, her driverís license and her green card. Zainab states, "Since coming to the Literacy Council, my life has gotten better. Finally, I say I am proud to be in this county which gave me and my family the opportunity to live in dignity and freedom and to practice my human rights. My goals are to learn how to read and write English and join those who care about the development of this great country."

Bobby Joe, has been a student with the Literacy Council since 1991. Before Bobby Joe enrolled in the Basic Literacy program, he had received a total of three monthís schooling. "My family moved a lot," says Bobby Joe, "and it was embarrassing to be 10 or 12 and go to the first grade. My father told me that I didnít have to go to school." Learning reading, writing and math skills have opened new doors for Bobby Joe. "Itís a joy to be able to sit down at the table and study my lessons," he says. Bobby Joe takes great pleasure in writing letters to his family and friends. He has written his autobiography, "Gypsy In the Holy Spirit" and got his high school diploma.

Student Publication

Each year Literacy Council students contribute stories for our annual student essay publication. Below are stories from the 2000 publication entitled, Writing...from the Heart

My New Home

Momma inherited a house in Los Angeles, California, that her mom had. When I moved to my new home in L.A., I was scared. It had 5 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, and a large backyard with palm trees. It was the house that Mom and Dad always dreamed of.

In our house I recall Dad sitting on the balcony in his robe, while Momma fixed eggs, pancakes, sausages and grits in the kitchen. Just the smell from the kitchen made me get up on the days after staying up with my friends watching movies.

Momma's favorite place was in the backyard planting flowers and vegetables. She liked to can the vegetables and send it to family members. Dad liked to read in the den and smoke his pipe. My favorite place was in my bedroom reading and collecting my beautiful porcelain dolls.

One early Monday morning it all happened at once. The house was trembling, the ground was moving at a rapid pace. Mom and Dad were in the kitchen and I was in my room sleeping. Suddenly, a large tree uprooted and came through my bedroom window. Mom and Dad heard a loud crash and came running to see if I was ok. Suddenly, it all stopped. Dad ran to call for help, but the phone was dead and the power was out in the whole neighborhood.

I'd heard of earthquakes, but I'd never been in one before. It took one year to get our lives back together. Our love for one another helped us through it all.

From the Heart

The sound of lightening frightens me.
Please, my Friend, do not laugh at me.

It makes my heart just skip a beat.
Please, my Friend, just comfort me.

The sound of the sirens frightens me.
It makes me wonder what's going to happen to me.

So my Friend, don't patronize me.
Please, my Friend, just pray for me.


My name is Eugenio. My country is Nicaragua. I came to the USA in 1994. My family has four children. I work two jobs. My first job is cutting meat at a grocery store. My second job is beign a security guard at a condominium. I like to work two jobs and to live in this country because of the opportunity to study and work.

Grade School Education in the Small Towns and Country of the Dominican Republic

Grade schools in the rural areas of the Dominican Republic are not located where the children live. Even those few schools located where the children live need more grades because the fifth and sixth graders have to go downtown. The oldest students have to walk about four or five miles to get downtown. The first, second, third, and fourth graders walk one or two miles to the country schools.

There are no school buses to take the students to the country schools or downtown. We do not have cars or buses - only motor scooters. Riding the motor scooters can be dangerous for the students. Accidents can happen more than two times a week.

Poor mothers can not provide for uniforms, books, or transportation for the kids to go to school. The country poor kids should wear their regular clothes to school if they can not buy uniforms. Sometimes the poor children miss school because they have to work for food, clothes, and extra money.

At the school we should have a small library where the students can read different books. These books can help kids read stories different from the textbooks. At the school we should have different programs where the students can learn painting pictures, building furniture, music, and gardening. We can have a coach who can teach sports such as baseball, basketball, soccer, and football.

I'm not looking for all these things to be true but in the future it can help the students to have a school bus. Later in the future we need some mini-buses to support public transportation in these small towns.

First Impressions

I want to talk about my first impression of English when I come to America. My husband is from the South so I went with him to Jasper, Georgia. I heard people speaking some kind of language. They were speaking English!

They were speaking English with a Southern accent. I couldn't understand them and they didn't know how to help me. I was very angry. I have heard people speaking English all over the world but nothing like what I heard in Jasper.

I still can't understand what the people from the South say!

I Love My Children

It was a pretty and shining morning but it was not for me because my family was getting ready to go to the airport to visit Pakistan. My children were happy because they were going to meet their grandparents. When we left home and went to the airport I was very sad. I will miss my family because I love my family very much. They spent two months in Pakistan. I missed my family very much. They had too much fun. Now my family lives with me but I remember my last two months without my family and I am sad. My family is a gift from Allah. I thank Allah for my family.

The Valley of Roses

My country is Bulgaria. It is in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans. It occupies an area of over 53,00 square miles. It has a population of nine million. The capital of the country is Sofia. Other major cities are: Varna, Bourgas, Plovdiv, and Rousse.

Bulgaria has mountains, plains, rivers, lakes, and a sea - the Black Sea. There are summer beach resorts like Sunny Beach, Zlatni piasatzi, Albena, Diuni, Elenite, and Nessebar. Personally, I enjoy Primorsko, at Diuni and Sunny Beach at Nessebar the best.

Winter resorts are: Borovetz, Pamporovo, and Bansko. There are spa resorts like Bankia, Hisaria, and many others. There is a natural hot spring (102 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Fahrenheit) in the city of Sapareva bania, which is my birthplace.

There are many kinds of flowers, fruits, and vegetables grown in Bulgaria. The rose is Bulgaria's national flower. The attar rose is the wealth of the country. All cosmetic companies use it as an ingredient of most perfumes and colognes. It is exported to countries all over the world. The most beautiful roses grow in the Valley of Roses, which is situated in the heart of Bulgaria, between the Balkan Range called Stara planina, and another mountain range called Sredna Gora. Bulgaria is also famous for good wines, especially from the Melnik region, and for tobacco and textiles. The major textiles exported are of wool for dresses and for suits. Leather gloves and dresses are also manufactured and exported, especially to the European markets.

Alone and Scared

I used my fireplace a few weeks ago. Then, one morning I cleaned the fireplace. When I cleaned, I could not close the flue well.

One evening I heard a sound. I came downstairs and looked around. I looked in the fireplace. There were two or three squirrels. I called the police. I said I am alone, help me.

After one hour they came and helped me. The policeman brought a cage, but the squirrel escaped up the chimney.

The policeman fixed the flue. I was very happy. I felt safe again. I thanked the policeman. He did a good job and helped me a lot.

The end.

Learning Another Language

I know it is very difficult to learn another language. To understand, to hear, to speak everything. But you have to use your brain because if you do this, it will make your relationships to everybody much better.

When you see a lot of pages in one book, it can make you afraid, and it's very difficult to understand if you read alone. But you have to try. Follow these steps. First, choose a great teacher. He can help you to understand. Second, buy a translation book. Third, try to write some phrases that you are thinking, and give it to your teacher.

These are some problems I had and everybody had. The difference between 'to' and 'for' is very difficult to understand. This confuses everybody. To understand the actors and actresses on television and radio is very difficult too, because everybody speaks fast. But try to increase your understanding.

When I arrive here, my English was at five percent. Now, it is 85 percent. I want to try to achieve 100 percent.


My name is Paulino Bonilla. My country is Honduras. I was in Tegucigalpa with my wife and son. In March of this year, I came to the United States of America which is a pretty good country. Here I am studying English, because I want to write and speak English very well so I might live better.

Honduras is a country with very many mountains. It is rich in lead, cultivated fruit, beans, coffee, rice, sugar, tomatoes, and corn.

Also, Honduras had the civilizations of the Maya, Lenca, Shortis, Chorotega, Xixaxis, misquitos, and Surros.

Now the country has trouble with economics and crime. There are many children in the street.


My country is Pakistan. Pakistan has four provinces, Punjab, Sarhad, Baluchistan and Sindh. All of them are beautiful natural sights.

In Sarhad and Baluchistan there are high mountains which are covered with snow. The people of these provinces are very beautiful. Their lives are very simple. God gave Pakistan many beautiful and natural things. In Pakistan they have many beautiful parks, mosques, rivers, seas, and streams.

The land of Pakistan is very beautiful. It is full of greenery. When the spring season comes, Pakistan looks more beautiful. In the spring season flowers begin blooming. The birds begin whistling, chirping, singing, and dancing. They are announcing the arrival of spring.

At the time of the spring, people come out of their homes. Every street and road is full of people who are going to watch the color of the spring in the parks. The parks have many kinds of flowers, like roses, yasmeen, Sooraj Mukhee, and Motia. The colors to be seen are, purple, white, pink, blue, and light yellow. The trees are full with leaves and their shade is very dark and cool. Children are playing in the shade of these dark green trees.

Pakistan has many famous places and mosques. In Karachi there is a big port. We call this port the Port of Karachi. There is a big sea there. Every evening people are going to the beach to enjoy it. Lahore is a famous city. I like it.

Lahore is the heart of Pakistan. The people of Lahore are very healthy and kind, and their hearts are full of love.

There, they have famous mosques like, Badshahi masjid and Shahi Kila. There is the Tomb of Jahangeer, and other tombs.

With the passing of time, people have been saying that Pakistan is the Golden Bird.

That's it.

My Work in El Salvador

My job in my country was bringing the cows two times each day to have water and for milking. I milked the cows in the morning. In the afternoon we made cheeses with the milk and cream. When the little calves come we take only half of the mother's milk. After some time we take more. When the calves are grown enough, they must eat grass.

I am from the Canton of Carisal. This is a very beautiful area with a Pacific beach at the edge. Because of the conflict in my country, there were many changes.

A Father's Love

When I was seven years old, I went with my father to pick cotton. I liked to go because we went to the cotton field on a tractor. I didn't work. My father and my two sisters worked. The white cotton looked like white flowers. My father built a tent with a bag. I stayed in the tent playing and sleeping.

What I really liked was when it was time to go. My father always brought juice and bread. One time, my father said to my sisters, "Because you worked, I will buy you bread. But Lorenza didn't work, so we will not buy anything for her."

I started to cry. My father said, "No, my daughter, don't be sad. I'm joking. I will buy bread for you too."

Animals and People in Pakistan

My mother and father live in the village in Pakistan. They have five goats, a spotted dog and a terrier, five buffaloes and one baby buffalo, two or three cows, and a lot of chickens. They get milk from the buffaloes and cows. The buffaloes' milk is thicker and tastes better than cow's milk.

Other people keep sheep for my parents. When they sell the baby sheep, my parents keep some money and the other people keep some money. When we visit, my children are excited and scared. My family asked why they are scared of the animals. The other children are not afraid. My children have never seen animals before.

At home they want a cat and fish. We don't have room for a cat and fish. We only have room for children.

My Country is Peru

My country is Peru. I was born in Lima. The Pacific Ocean is on our coast. Peru has a lot of desert in the East. In the middle of the country we have the Andes mountains. Peru's neighbor to the East is Brazil. In the North, our neighbors are Ecuador and Colombia. In the South, Chile. To the South East, our border is with Bolivia.

"La Selva" or, Forest, has a great amount of vegetation, more than anywhere else in Peru. It contains the river, Amazonas. The Amazon carries the greatest volume of water in the world. I love my country because it is beautiful, has good people, and our ancestors, the Incas, have passed down good traditions to us.

My Balcony in the USA

My favorite place is in my house in Falls Church, Virginia. My balcony is small sized and beautiful. It is across from my dining room. On my balcony, I have some plants, a small white table and a chair. My daughters and my husband go on my balcony with me. I go to the balcony everyday in the morning and especially at night. I walk to my favorite place. It is my favorite place for several reasons. It is the place where I can see the flowers and plants. It is also my favorite place because I feel comfortable and always remember my country, my parents, my brothers, my sister and my friends. My balcony is calm and I can hear the sound of the birds. It is where I can dream.

Some of the Natural Places in El Salvador

I'm from El Salvador. My country is beautiful. It has many rivers, beaches, lakes, parks, etc.

The names of some important rivers are: Costa del Sol, El Tamarindo, and El Sunzal.

My family consists of my mother my father, grandfather, aunts, uncles, brothers, sister, sister-in-laws, nephews, my husband and our sons. My first son is called Kenny, and the name of my second son is Jonathan.

My Family and My Country

My family is very beautiful. I have my Grandmother, my mother, my uncles, and aunts, my daughter, and my son. They live in El Salvador and are wonderful people.

My wife is a secretary, and my daughter is studying in the Kindergarten in my country. My son was born on Friday, August 11, 2000, at 1:15 P.M. He is called Wilfredo Jr., and he is now two months old. The doctor says Wilfredo Jr. is very healthy.

My job in my country was teacher of the history of El Salvador. In this country I am a cook's helper (Assistant Cook). I like to cook and I need to study about cooking. I really want to have a job teaching. This semester, I am a Volunteer Assistant Teacher in my ESL class.

About my country: El Salvador is beautiful, and it is the smallest country on the Central American Continent. We have many tourist centers which include our beaches, rivers, gulfs, parks and lakes.

The names of the important beaches are: Los Blancos, Costa del Sol, El Cuco, El Zungano, Los Cobanos, and El Sunzal.

The important rivers are: El Lempa, Jiboa, and Paz.

The important gulf is the Gulf of Fonseca.

The parks are Libertad Park, Balboa Park, and General Guerardo Barrios Park, all in San Salvador, and Nicolas Pena Park at La Paz.

The important lakes are: Guija, Coatepeque, and Llopange.

My Country is Honduras

My name is Francisco Banegas. My valley is El Cubulero in Honduras. I love my country. My family lives in the valley called, Honduras.

I love to go to my friend's mountain. The mountain is called Mosquitia. I go to the river and watch it. (I like to watch it for a long time.) The name of the river is Guascoran.

I love my beach in my country, Honduras, in Central America. I love all about my country.


On Saturday, March 25, we had basketball games. They had all the players come out with their coaches to try out for the Special Olympics. My coach took me out on the basketball court to see if I could knock down the balls that were flying overhead. After I grabbed the basketball, I made a good basket. Then it was back to sitting on the benches again.

After I saw the last and final game, I got a medal for second place.

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