Meet Ruth, a tutor from Marinette and Oconto Counties Literacy Council
“What hauled me lock, stock, and barrel into literacy was that I was working in a hospital and I got called to the Emergency Room for a blood draw. The gentleman was a local U.S. citizen farmer, and he had to sign a consent form in order to draw his blood.
What he said to me was ‘I’m sorry, ma’am, I can’t read. Can you read that to me?’
I stood there in the Emergency Room and thought how does this man function? How can he sell his crops? How can he work with people with whom he has to sell equipment? How does he do this? How can he do his taxes?
And that stuck with me over the years.”
When Ruth Riesch retired, she called up her good friend Janet Glime, who had started the Marinette and Oconto County Literacy Council. Ruth told Janet she wanted to become a tutor.
Since then, Ruth has gone above and beyond to help her learners and her community.
One of her learners worked on a farm in rural Wisconsin and was in charge of their equipment. He did all the maintenance and acted as supervisor on one of the shifts. His goal was to start his own business.
Ruth not only worked with him on his English, she also spoke to a friend who owned his own garage for help. Her friend recommended a consultant for business start-ups. Ruth mediated a meeting between the learner and the consultant.
The learner was delighted to get guidance from an expert, and he was eventually able to open his own auto repair garage. He not only improved English skills and gained confidence, he now has something to hand down to his children.
In addition to tailoring her lessons to the unique goals of her learners, Ruth drives up to 20 miles one-way to study with them. She promotes the literacy council in businesses all over her town of Gillett, with fliers in both English and Spanish.
Ruth trains new tutors and shares specific strategies to empower learners to meet their individual goals. For example - during lessons, Ruth places a paper tent in front of her learners, listing their personal goals, as a reminder of what they are working toward.
Ruth explains, “What I really like is working with other people toward some kind of a worthwhile goal. I like meeting people with different backgrounds from mine and different life experiences. I love solving problems. That is such fun! I’m all excited when they succeed.”