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Highland honors adult education volunteers

Highland Community College hosted a Volunteer Appreciation night to recognize the commitment of adult education tutors on June 22. Volunteers tutor math, reading, writing, or English as a Second Language (ESL), and are residents throughout the college’s district.

“Volunteers are a fundamental part of our program and of the community,” said Rachel Feldhaus, Director, Adult Education. “Learning in a classroom is not possible or even preferable for everyone, so our tutors really help folks who thrive in a one-tutor-one-student format.”

She adds, “Though dedicating an hour each week to help someone might not seem like big deal to a tutor, it means the world to the students improving their English (and even math) skills. Tutoring is also a great way for college students to put volunteering experience on their resume or college applications.”

The support and encouragement tutors provide are key influences in the lives of students. Students have a higher chance of success with individual instruction. According to Esther Mayer, Coordinator, Literacy and ESL Programs, the program is rewarding for volunteers who help their communities by improving the lives of residents, one person at a time. Volunteers tutor when it’s convenient for both students and themselves — morning, afternoon, or evening, and in an academic subject area they enjoy. Volunteers have the option to tutor face-to-face or virtually by Zoom™.

“Volunteer tutors are an integral part of the Adult Education Department,” said Mayer. “Since tutors are available at a variety of times, they can serve individuals who are unable to participate in classroom instruction.”

Mary Blair has volunteered as a tutor for 21 years. Upon a recommendation from a friend, Blair first began teaching GED® classes, and now volunteers her time with ESL.

“I like volunteering my time. It is so rewarding,” Blair said. “Working with ESL students is so nice because they are so eager to learn, and I am learning Spanish as they are learning English.  Also, becoming a volunteer is a great way to give back to the community.”

Glenn Hagemann, a volunteer since 2012, said, “I like to meet people and help them grow. I typically work with GED® students. To see them do well and graduate in the program is what it is all about.”

The Highland Community College Volunteer Literacy Program is part of the Adult Education department and is funded by a grant from the State of Illinois. Volunteer tutors are recruited, trained and matched with eligible adults wanting to improve their math, reading, writing or English language skills. Adult learners are tutored on a one-on-one basis or in small groups.

For more information about becoming an Adult Education volunteer, contact Esther Mayer at 815-599-3538 or To learn more about the Adult education program, go to

Photo: Adult Education volunteers were honored on June 22 at Highland Community College.