Volunteer Spotlight: Judy Smallwood

July 25, 2017

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Anne Arundel Literacy Council volunteers generously and selflessly share their time, talents, and funds to improve adult literacy in our county. Thanks to their dedication, 223 adults and out-of-school youth received free, convenient, and individualized reading, writing, math, and speaking English instruction last year alone. Each month we will introduce you to one of these exceptional volunteers who are part of our Literacy Council team.

What originally drew you to volunteer for the Literacy Council?

I read an article in the Capital in 2011 about a Literacy Council tutor and his student and thought that I would like to become a tutor, too. I had taught my three sons to read when they were young and received great satisfaction from doing that. I took the Literacy Council’s tutoring class (several times!) but have yet to be a tutor. Instead,I became Student Coordinator from 2011-2012. In 2012 I needed to cut back on my volunteer hours, so I became an Assessor, and then an Assessor trainer as well.

Do you have a memorable moment as an Assessor that you could share?

Not one moment, but what stands out the most to me is how I feel after meeting with our new students. I drive away incredibly inspired and wanting to be a better person. From meeting with the high school dropout who is now focused like a laser beam on getting his diploma, joining the Navy, and dwelling on the positive, to the charming retired gentleman who became an actor and wants to learn to read his lines better, to the hardworking young widow who wants to spell better so she can get a promotion and provide more for her young children…I am just in awe of them.

Sometimes I even get to read an update on “my” student after the student has met with his or her tutor for a while. I love to read about progress made and goals met, and know that I had a small hand in it.

I laugh at some of the little snafus that happen along the way – going to a library to meet with a student and finding it is closed for the day due to a boiler problem (I called the student and we met at a Panera across the street). Or a student going to the wrong library, but then realizing her mistake and calling the library where I had been waiting for her (I was able to drive to her since she did not have a car). It helps to be a bit flexible!

If someone is thinking about becoming a Literacy Council Assessor, what would you want them to know?

It’s a great way to volunteer just a little if you don’t have much time to spare, and yet know that you are making a difference. It is easy to do. You’ll have a script and step-by-step instructions. The assessor book looks complicated at first sight, but don’t be scared away! Once you do a few assessments, you’ll see how fun and easy it is.

Some information about yourself (your job, family, hobbies).

I’m married and have three adult sons, a daughter-in-law (expecting my twin granddaughters later this year!), and a six-year-old grandson who lives in Montana. I work for the Anne Arundel County School system, coordinating interpreters for parents who don’t speak English well. My hobbies are reading (naturally!) and taking long walks with my husband.

Anne Arundel County Literacy Council | 410-269-4419 |director@aaclc.org |icanread.org

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