Let’s raise our glasses to the amazing Sue Steinkraus, long-time LSW tutor and our August 2020 Volunteer of the Month. Sue first became involved with LSW in the 1980s when it was called the Laubauch Literacy Center. Although she has been working in the Adult Basic Education program at our Downtown location for the past decade or so, she recently started tutoring at our new Silver Spring Neighborhood Center (SSNC) location, introducing a small group of low-level learners to the alphabet, letter-sound correlations, and beginner-level text. According to Betsy Kerns, SSNC Program Coordinator, “this small group model created a sense of camaraderie and community as well as providing intensive remedial instruction preparing these students for their next step with a one-on-one tutor.”

Sue especially enjoys instructing beginning level students who are learning letter-sound correlations, and she is constantly inspired by their dedication and cheerfulness. Working with her students, one of whom was in the process of relearning how to walk and talk after suffering from a head wound as a victim of gun violence, has taught her the true meaning of perseverance. “She was the very embodiment of persistence and hard work,” said Sue. She loves seeing the smiles come over her students’ faces after all their hard work and practice, when the notion of blending sounds to produce words finally sinks in.

During the Covid-19 quarantine, Sue has remained steadfast in her commitment to working with her students each week by phone, which has presented some challenges, given the lack of visual representation. Seeing how the mouth moves when making a sound is extremely helpful when learning letter-sound correlations, and Sue likes to show her students how her mouth, tongue, and jaw move as she makes “th” or “f” sounds, for example. However, “Sue is a constant source of knowledge, patience, and support to her students and they expressed that they appreciate Sue’s kindness and the comfort of stability during these uncertain times,” said Betsy.

During the winter, when she’s not volunteering, Sue likes to hit the road in her motorhome with her husband and their spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer, Pilot, by her side. Endowed with an adventurous and giving spirit, though admittedly not blessed with a particularly good voice or cooking skills, Sue takes great joy in singing and entertaining in her home. She is also a veteran blood and platelet donor, having donated 140 times, and is training to be a helpline volunteer for an organization that helps people recovering from the effects of religious fundamentalism.

In addition to her outstanding contribution as a tutor, Sue is always willing to help out at various community events and with occasional mailings, and we deeply appreciate her many wonderful talents. We are lucky to have you, and we are forever thankful for your sincerity and dedication. Cheers to you, Sue!