From One-Room Schoolhouse to Literacy Connects – Bob Patterson is a Lifelong Learner

b45d2d77-891b-4497-bcfb-0534f5ce858eA little over a year ago, Bob Patterson decided that he wanted to get better at reading aloud to his 3 ½ year old granddaughter. He went to his local Pima County Library branch to look for books on the subject, but he could only find books from an ESL perspective. When he asked the librarian for advice, they pointed him a few blocks west to Literacy Connects.

One-Room Schoolhouse

Bob’s love and pursuit of learning began at a much earlier age, in Mercer County, Kentucky. His one-room schoolhouse taught grades first through sixth all together. He enjoyed helping younger classmates with their math. In high school he says he “got by,” with listening carefully and having a good memory. While he was great at math and logic, he struggled with reading aloud. “I grew up afraid of being called on to read,” he said. Although he still feels that fear today, he has come a long way.

The Student Becomes the Teacher

At Literacy Connects, Bob enrolled in the Adult Basic Literacy program where he received one-to-one tutoring from volunteer Edie Schmitz. His time in the ABL program gave him greater confidence in his reading skills and everyday life.

Bob started to visit the Reading Improvement Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and quickly realized that he could help some of the other adult learners with their reading. Now, as a tutor, Bob says that his main goal is for his learners to make sure they enjoy themselves. He loves tutoring and says that he gets invested in a student’s success, “even if [we meet] just a few times.”

“I have an advantage as a tutor because I’ve struggled with similar things…I still feel like a student,” Bob said, and went on to speak of how he learns and practices just as much as his students do when he’s working with them. He always works in a little time for both him and his student to read aloud. “I always look forward to my time in the Reading Improvement Center,” he said.

A Lifetime of Reading

Bob loves to read. He first became excited about reading when his son gave him Sackett’s Land by Louis L’Amour for Christmas. His son enjoyed Louis L’Amour so much that he read it before giving it to his dad. They still share an appreciation for the famous western author today.

Bob is reading more than ever and stands proud in his confidence. He prefers to read on his tablet and would “never pick up a real book if he didn’t have to.” It is easier for him to keep track of his place, and most importantly, he can easily use the embedded dictionary to look up words. Bob is currently reading two books, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Of the latter, he says he’s really enjoying it “because the description is amazing.”

Get Connected. Pass it On!

Bob Patterson is just one example of what it means to pass on the gift of literacy. When asked what he would tell other emerging readers in the community he said: “The ‘connects’ in Literacy Connects is true…it [literacy] opens up the conversation and makes [life] more enjoyable.” He still practices reading aloud, every day, whether on his own or at Literacy Connects.

2 Responses to “From One-Room Schoolhouse to Literacy Connects – Bob Patterson is a Lifelong Learner”

  1. Jeri McAndrews says:

    I enjoyed reading your story Bob and I think it’s great that you found a way to share your love of reading and new ability to speak out loud comfortably.
    I am a person who chose not to go to college and instead enjoyed a career as a dancer, both performing and teaching. Alas I found myself living in a remote mountain town in Colorado and couldn’t make it teaching dance because there weren’t enough people to attend my classes. So I enrolled in the nearest college at 49 and gained my BA degree in education (high school English) at 53. I’ve written two books since then and intend to write more.
    I love reading and writing as much as I loved dancing and can engage in the prior mentioned activities even though I have rheumatoid arthritis.

    • Sara Wolfe Vaughan says:

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your story Jeri! Keep writing and inspiring others. 🙂