This month we are pleased to feature Michelle Schewe as our volunteer spotlight.
Michelle (pictured with her kids Sam and Gabe, and dog Lily) first approached Literacy Source about volunteering in September 2016 as she was very interested in pursuing teaching ESOL. At the time she was a student in the STESL program and working in her job as a librarian at Bellevue College. She had volunteered for four years at the Lake City Library Talk Time so she was well acquainted with our student demographic. Michelle joined Literacy Source as a tutor in early 2017 and then transitioned into the ESOL 4/5 classroom in the summer. Since then she has been co-instructing the class while taking as many trainings as she can, and even stepping up to be trained as a proctor! In the spring Michelle will be joining the citizenship instructional team subbing for one of the teachers in the evenings and then co-instructing the class in the summer.
She answered a few questions for us:
Where are you originally from? If you’re not from Seattle what brought you here?
I was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I spent a summer volunteering for the U.S. Forest Service between my junior and senior years of undergrad. I worked on the Olympic Peninsula, studying the small mammal population. It turns out there are many small animals that live only on the Olympic Peninsula and nowhere else on Earth! I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest that summer. Years later my husband was offered a job at the University of Washington, so we moved out here. We absolutely love Seattle and are so happy to be raising our kids here.
Please share something of your life so far and what you would like to do in the future.
I have been a librarian for the past 18 years. Right now I work at two community colleges, teaching students how to do research. I enjoy the work, but I am ready for a career change. This past fall I finished a certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). I have been putting into practice what I learned by co-teaching an ESOL class here at Literacy Source. I hope to one day teach English in another country.
Why did you choose to volunteer at LS?
I chose to volunteer at Literacy Source because I wanted to work and support non-native English speakers in my community. I am delighted that LS offers the opportunity to volunteer as a classroom teacher.
What do you like about volunteering at LS?
My favorite part of volunteering at Literacy Source is getting to know my students. It is energizing to work with people so motivated to learn. I also enjoy working with the LS staff because everyone is committed to supporting the students.
Any stories or highlights from volunteering at LS?
Before I began teaching the ESOL 4-5 class last July, I visited the class. I wanted to see how the previous teacher ran her class and I wanted to meet the students. I was really nervous walking in the first night because everything was new to me and I wasn’t sure if the students would like me. The teacher introduced me to the class and said I would be their new teacher in the summer. All of the students were gracious and welcomed me. The most vocal student, Sam Peña, said “Michelle, you are very welcome here.” I was blown away by the welcoming atmosphere in the room.
Michelle is truly a valuable volunteer, taking the time to vary her experience and really work with the staff to be adaptable and step in as needed. We hope she is also gaining valuable experience and teaching skills as well. Thank you, Michelle - you have become a much appreciated, integral member of the instructional team!