Impact Stories

Instructor Stories

12 Quotes from Adult Literacy Instructors to Inspire You in 2024

December 27, 2023

With a new year just days away, we wanted to reflect on how inspired we are every day by the adult literacy field. Every person—from program directors to tutors to those who work at the front desk—is part of something life changing. But the beautiful thing about adult literacy is it’s not just the programs changing lives, it’s the students, too.

Instructors tell us all the time that they had no idea how much working with adult learners would impact them personally and how much watching someone improve their skills would give them a new perspective of the world around them.
In that spirit, we are leaving you with 12 quotes about instructors’ experiences to inspire you in the new year.


“Be relaxed and honest so that the student isn’t tense. Converse and listen to the student, and don’t teach at them. Be interested in your student.”

—Doug Cook, Center of Hope


“I have learned just how fortunate I have been in my life: to be born in the U.S., to have had so many opportunities to be educated, and to have so many freedoms—for an education, to have a career that I have loved, to have an equal partnership with my wonderful husband, to vote and participate in government, and to speak my mind when needed. I have also learned that I love to have a sense of purpose. Nothing makes me happier than when I see a student succeed.”

—Carol Dussault, Literacy Council of Sheboygan County 


“My students feel comfortable with my teaching style and often tell me that I am the best teacher they have ever had.”

—Russell Joy, Literacy Mid-South


“One of my first students … was incarcerated at the local jail and studying for his high school equivalency exam. He was really nailing the material, so I posed the question: What’s next? What do you want to do when you get released? He looked stunned, got a little teary, and then quietly replied, ‘No one has ever asked me that before.’”

—Anne Larsen, Literacy Volunteers of the New River Valley


“After all these years, I know that I chose the right career for my life. I love teaching, especially ESL.”

—Sandra Malone, South Coast Literacy Council


“[Before tutoring], I certainly was not aware of how difficult English pronunciation is for speakers of other languages. … I have also learned to identify and accept their frustrations and develop my own patience!”

—Norma Penn, Northwest Ohio Literacy Council


“I love it when a student takes something they learned in the class and goes with it! For instance, one of my students was fascinated by our Native American unit. She then took her family to Cherokee, NC, for vacation last year and this year visited the Native American Museum in D.C.”

—Deborah Alvarez, Shelby Literacy Center


“I [have] a general feeling of satisfaction when my learner’s improved language skills enable her to navigate her community—communicate with her child’s teacher, initiate conversations with her neighbors, feel confident talking with her business customers.”

—Marcia Katigbak Church, Whatcom Literacy Council


“I do love it when I get an unexpected phone call in the middle of the day saying, ‘Miss Suz, I was just able to read the street sign for the address I’m looking for!’ This was from a truck driver doing daily deliveries for years by following GPS and laboriously matching letters on the invoice to the street signs. He and I both couldn’t have been prouder!”

—Suz Hall, Neuhaus Education Center


“I have learned that my energy is bolstered by the work of others as they make positive changes in their lives and the lives of those around them. I am also determined to maintain that growth mindset, which our students model for us each day.”

—Heather Tovey, Butte County Library Literacy Services


“I don’t want to just be my students’ teacher; I also want to be their friend. I make them feel loved and welcomed when they come to class. I ask them about their families and what’s going on in their lives.”

—Melody Ruddell, Prestige Learning Institute


“This truly has been such a gift to me! Seeing the learners show up, week after week, excited to share their homework, tell me about their weekend, and ready to take on the day’s activity is such motivation.”

—Jen Frost, Oceanside READS


Learn more about how you can volunteer in 2024

Read about each of these instructors in our 2023 Instructor Spotlight series