Meet Volunteer James Sutton

James has been a volunteer with the Literacy Council of Tyler since 2004. He first started volunteering, he said, because he likes to stay busy and enjoys helping others.

He usually tutors students who need one-on-one help with math. Math has always come easy for James and he believes that, with the right help, math is a subject anyone can learn. “When you teach math, you’re also teaching problem-solving skills. With these skills, students learn to think for themselves – something that can benefit them in all areas of their lives.”

One student that James has tutored in math is Vicki. When the pair first met, Vicki was working at McDonald’s. She was earning the same wage as her son’s friend.

“That really hit home for Vicki,” said James. “She realized to make a better life for herself and her family she needed to get a job that earned more money. That meant first getting a GED.”

They began working together. As Vicki’s math skills improved, so did her confidence and her opinion of herself. She worked very hard for two years and four months. She earned a GED and now has a good job in the medical field. “Both her confidence and her salary have gone way, way up,” said James. “That has given her whole life fulfillment.”

James, who has an 8-year-old himself, said that teaching an adult is very different from teaching a child. Besides the obvious benefits such as better attention span (“and you don’t have to bribe them with snacks”) adults have a different purpose. Their motivation is almost always to get a better job and provide a better life for their family, so they are definitely more focused.

“Adults come here out of love,” James said. “Love for their family, their kids, their spouse. They want to provide more for them and to give them better circumstances. A 50% increase over minimum wage makes a big difference, and that feels really good to be a part of that process.”

James believes that volunteering is one of the most rewarding things a person can do. Even a small investment of time can make an impact. If you are able to teach, you should seize the opportunity.

“God’s given me a gift,” said James. “I’ve been very blessed to be a fast learner and I think I’m a pretty fair teacher. If you don’t share those gifts, they go to waste. That’s not being a very good steward with what the Lord’s given you.”

Thank you, James, for being such an incredible volunteer, teacher, mentor and friend to so many students of the Literacy Council of Tyler.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, call us at 903-533-0330 and ask for DeAnn.