Although she is shy about receiving recognition, Kathy Erdman, Literary Services' March Volunteer of the Month, is well deserving of our sincere gratitude for her steadfast and compassionate support of our students and tutors!
Because of her experience in language development and working one-on-one with individuals, Kathy began her service to LSW as a tutor in our Adult Basic Education (ABE) program and was trained in the Wilson Reading System®. Having worked as a speech pathologist in various school districts and as a clinical professor, Kathy had to adjust to the structure of Wilson in comparison to her individualized approach as a former speech therapist. Now, she provides observations and role-play sessions for new Wilson tutors.
In addition to her twice-weekly 90-minute tutoring sessions in the Wilson Reading System, she also handles weekly enrollments of new phonics students. Bianca, ABE Program Director, values Kathy’s kind and encouraging demeanor when working with students. “Kathy ensures her enrollment appointments are always welcoming and prioritizes listening to the new learner share their personal story. The amount of care Kathy dedicates to each learner, no matter their level, is crucial to long-term engagement,” said Bianca.
Kathy was initially hesitant to point out speech patterns that could interfere with her students’ ability to connect the letter sounds. However, she found that they welcomed the feedback, and she realized that pointing out a pattern helps a student think about what they are doing and overcome the difficulty they may be having. Kathy loves seeing her students “start to get that sound/letter association and begin blending it into a word,” or understand they can break a multi-syllable word into chunks. “Every time that happens, I get my therapy fix. Regardless of how I feel when I get up in the morning, when I leave [LSW], I’m feeling better,” said Kathy.
Approaching her five-year volunteer anniversary, Kathy appreciates the opportunity of getting to know and learn from people with whom she might otherwise not have any interaction. She has been able to organically develop relationships with her students and help out with other day-to-day life challenges, such as filling out forms and preparing for interviews. She’s even attended a school meeting with a student’s family and taken another student and her child to a First Stage play along with her granddaughter.
Kathy’s fervent commitment to Literacy Services of Wisconsin and her students is unwavering, and we are beyond grateful for her service!