Volunteer Spotlight: Temp Johnson

August 25th, 2017


This month LCMC is thrilled to introduce you to one of our superstar newer volunteer tutors, Temp Johnson. A former meteorology professional who has worked for NASA and NOAA, Temp is now retired and finds that volunteering to work with people learning English provides him not only a way to give back to his community, but admits that it also gives him “a lot of satisfaction” helping his students. Here’s what he has to say about his experiences thus far as a tutor. We’re lucky to have you, Temp!

What motivated or inspired you to become an LCMC volunteer?

I’m retired now after working 45 years in meteorology, NASA and NOAA satellite operations and data processing.  I decided on tutoring English mainly because my son, now 40, has always struggled with dyslexia (reading disability).  Beginning in the first grade when he was diagnosed with dyslexia, he continues to this day to struggle with reading.  It continues to shape his life choices.

I’m certainly not an expert on learning disabilities, but in a small way, if I can help people with their desire to become more fluent in English, that’s for me.  LCMC has allowed me to fulfill that goal, both in the training they provide and linking me up with students who want to expand their English capabilities and their lives.

I started with 3 students per class, however, student situations have caused the class size to vary from 4 to 1.  Currently I teach one class a week, but in the fall the students and I want to increase this to twice a week.

What is some advice you can give to future LCMC volunteers or tutors?

First, let the students know that you appreciate their struggle, their courage in trying to improve their English skills.  Learning a new language, especially English is not easy.  Here in this classroom is the opportunity to try out and expand their English capabilities.  Yes, you will make mistakes, but mistakes are good thing.  You’ll learn from your mistakes and not feel embarrassed by them.

Second, tell them of your own experiences on learning a new language and how difficult and hopefully satisfying it was, especially how it went while traveling or living in another country.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?

Clearly, the students that I tutor are my favorite aspect of volunteering.  They are so appreciative of someone taking the time to help them better understand, navigate and feel more confident using English.  They let you know immediately whether they understand what’s being taught and then suddenly when it makes sense.  It’s obvious from a puzzled look on their face or a sudden smile.  It makes teaching a pleasure.

What are some obstacles that you face as a volunteer?

Preparing for the first class came with an initial shock. Sure, I had the LCMC training and that gave me a good overall approach and techniques to use.  But specifically what do I teach the first class?  Answer:  Read and use the Laubach Teacher Manual books, especially the Skills Book level that have been assigned for your students. It’s all right there organized step by step by what to teach, when to teach it and what to say (words, sentences, sounds) for teacher and student.  It’s more than just a guide.  It’s really the script you can easily follow for the first class and all subsequent classes.   It’s all there laid out for you.  You just need to follow it.  It sure makes teaching easy!

How has being an LCMC volunteer impacted your life?

As a retired guy with time on my hands, volunteering gives me not only time to give back to my community, but I must admit that it gives me a lot of satisfaction helping my students.

Interested in joining Temp as a volunteer tutor with the Literacy Council? Contact Ashley France, Volunteer Coordinator, at ashley@literacycouncilmcmd.org. Can’t volunteer but want to support LCMC and its students? Donate today