Why We Do What We Do: Susan and Thomas

October 20, 2014

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Tutor Susan Shillen and Student Thomas Sellman

The tutor speaks: Susan Shillen

Thomas has completed levels one through four of “Laubach Way to Reading”, and read all 14 books in the “Junkyard Dan” series, many of them on his own time.

When he came to me for tutoring, Thomas had some reading challenges that make it very difficult for him to figure out unfamiliar words. At those early sessions I was nervous about tutoring an adult for the first time, and learning how to teach using the Laubach method. Luckily for me, Thomas is a very agreeable student. He didn’t mind me starting him in the first book, and going through those beginning charts and lessons step by step. It wasn’t long before we both got the hang of the method and I let Thomas take the lead in going over the charts.

Despite having numerous interruptions to our sessions over the three years that we have been working together, Thomas has always been ready to pick back up where we left off. He’s a dependable student, always letting me know if he won’t be able to make it to a session or will be especially late.

Thomas’ ability to sound out words has improved dramatically. It has been fascinating for me to see how well he can understand stories, and the meaning of many words, even when he can’t figure out each word exactly.

Now that we’ve completed the Laubach series, I’m hoping that we will continue to work together to meet some of Thomas’ other goals, such as getting his driver’s license.

Susan M. Shillenn
Anne Arundel County Literacy Council Tutor

The student’s story: Thomas Sellman

From Thomas:

I was nervous going to the library to meet my tutor, knowing I would have to read in front of her, and other people would hear me read. We got to know each other first, when we started book 1. Now we meet at a local cafeteria. Sometimes it will be me and Susan in there by ourselves. Sometimes people would be in there with us.

It was fun learning how to read. I get to read all the stuff I couldn’t read before. I like how we get to pick the days for tutoring. It was fun looking on the map for all the places the people in the story had traveled. We also looked on the map to show each other all the places we traveled. It was nice to take a break and play a game.

Book 1, 2 and 3, we finished them fast. Book 4 seemed like it was never going to end. Thanks to Susan I know how to read.

Thomas Sellman
AACLC student

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