When I look back on my life, I can at least take joy in the fact that I helped a young girl overcome her poor literacy levels.
It was 2003. I was working as a tutor in Charlestown in Newcastle. I was given a year 7 girl with poor literacy levels to work with. She was 12 years old but had the reading and writing ability of an 8 year old.
The strange thing was that her low literacy had nothing to do with her motivation. She was already involved in competition waterskiiing and had a bit of swimming talent - she was training 6 afternoons a week and would often come to tutoring with wet hair and carrying a towel (the pool was across the road from the tutoring business).
She had ambitions to go to the 2008 Olympics, but she still had problems reading. I tried to work out what was going on - she was not intellectually impaired and her marks in other subjects (including mathematics) were never as poor. Was it dyslexia? I got her to read things on blue paper but that didn't seem to make an impact. Finally I suggested to her mother to get her eyes checked. Guess what! She needed glasses.
With glasses now prescribed, she made incredible progress in her literacy levels. Every week I bored her with spelling tests and reading tests and got her to write simple reports. It was hard work - she didn't always enjoy it, but as time went by her results began to improve. By the time I had finished my tutoring, she had turned 13 and had the literacy levels of an 11 year old - still not up to scratch but certainly a massive improvement.
And what of her ambition in swimming? Click on this link to find out.
I also taught this bloke at Hunter Valley Grammar School.