On March 11, Rachael Grove came to Literacy for Life to inquire about the GED. On March 12, the agency closed its doors due to COVID-19. The staff began working remotely, while learners and tutors adapted to the new world of virtual education.
Rachael grew up in a bilingual home with parents from Costa Rica and the U.S. In Central America, she received a limited, non-traditional education, and she faced gaps in her education that made her goals a special challenge. However, she had certain advantages including innate intelligence and the unwavering support of her grandmother in Williamsburg.
Rachael was matched with Patti Bozman, an experienced math teacher but self-described Luddite. “I had the usual butterflies in my stomach that accompany every new pairing,” Patti remembers, “but I had also only just been introduced to the mysterious world of Zoom.” Patti overcame her Zooming jitters, set up a whiteboard in view of her computer camera, and gave Rachael a call.
At their first session, Patti recalls, “Rachael nervously admitted to not knowing multiplication facts. She assured me that within a week she would know them all—and she was true to her word!” As an experienced tutor, Patti knows all too well that “math is difficult, with inevitable setbacks and hurdles.” She feared that Rachael’s goal of enrolling in college in 2021 would prove unrealistic. However, Rachael “doggedly tackled all the math objectives with grace, good humor, and an absolute joy of learning.”
Meanwhile, Rachael also needed help preparing for the GED language arts test, so she began meeting a second tutor, Diana Martin. Their COVID solution was to meet outdoors, wearing masks, at a distance. Together, they studied topics that were new to Rachael, including essay composition, grammar, literature, and standardized testing.
Diana remembers, “Rachael spoke and wrote excellent English, but American and World Literature were largely unknown to her. She particularly enjoyed Shakespearian sonnets and Japanese haiku. Rachael is one of the most talented and intelligent students I have ever tutored.”
By November, only eight months after enrolling at Literacy for Life, Rachael had completed her GED. She is excited to enroll in the nursing program at Thomas Nelson Community College in January. Rachel’s tutors describe her as patient, loving, committed, perseverant, highly focused, and industrious. We have no doubt she will succeed in college and become an extraordinary nurse. Rachael, meanwhile, speaks of her experience with humility and gratitude.
“It’s just amazing,” she smiles. “My experience with Literacy for Life has been so wonderful. The tutors are dedicated, inspiring, and always motivating. I learned to do things I never thought I would do. I’m so grateful to my tutors, my family, and my grandmother.”