We are pleased to announce Literacy Services of Wisconsin’s May Volunteer of the Month, Oliva Carreto. Olivia first got involved with LSW in November of 2019 and has been a compassionate tutor and an indispensable resource at our South Division site ever since.

Olivia works as a Case Manager at Justice Point, a nonprofit social justice organization headquartered in Milwaukee. In her role at Justice Point she provides one-on-one sessions, facilitates goal planning, and connects her clients to resources--a skill set that can be directly applied to her role as LSW as a tutor.  Olivia dedicates one evening a week to tutor an ELL student and enjoys their rapport and ability to make jokes with each other while learning. “Her compassionate nature and her ability to connect to others shines through when you interact with her and when you see her interact with her student,” remarked LSW Assistant Program Director Pa Nou Xiong.  

Olivia has found the tutoring structure at South Division to be a good mix of being supported by program staff, while having the flexibility to create her own lessons and teach in her own style. She can see how her lessons and her efforts are making a difference in her student’s progress. Olivia loves creating lesson plans, and is currently taking a TEFOL class. She thoroughly prepares lessons to match each student’s level of engagement and comprehension. If something isn’t working, she can quickly tailor her lesson or move to a different exercise.

Working with her current student, she has learned that not everybody thinks about language the same way. Her student is more focused on how to have conversations and remembering how to communicate effectively. Olivia ensures the material they are covering reflects what her student needs. When her student gets discouraged about his English skills, Olivia emphasizes how well he is doing for not having studied English for very long. Olivia has been studying Spanish for 12 years and understands the difficulty of learning a language. As Pa Nou noted, “She can put her student at ease as she is always quick to offer him support with her gentle smile and with lots of words of encouragement—and in Spanish, no less!”

Despite the challenges that quarantine and COVID-19 have presented us with, her passion and dedication to her student shows as she continues to generously give of her time by tutoring him remotely. Originally, Olivia would use color-coded word cards to form sentences with her student. When the “Safer at Home” order took effect, she adapted quickly and made her lessons on Google Slides to share with her student over Zoom. There has been a learning curve for her and her student transitioning to an online learning format, and her Spanish-speaking skills have helped tremendously in being able to communicate with her student. For other tutors who are thinking about remote tutoring, she advises, “Be creative with it. There isn’t one way of doing it.”

Aside from tutoring, she is always eager to help LSW staff and other tutors in any way she can. She always goes above and beyond with anything that she puts her mind to; we are so grateful to have her be a part of our South Division team. Thank you, Olivia!