Passion will win out – at least for LVT tutor Ryan Damek, who teaches a beginning English class Mondays and Wednesdays at Esperanza Elementary School.
“When I first got out of high school I wanted to be a teacher but I was persuaded out of it because of the low pay.” Instead, he studied retail management and toiled for years at various Tucson stores.
Now he’s back at the University of Arizona, studying English and education, with an eye to teaching high school after he graduates in December. “My ultimate goal is to go into Teach for America in the Tennessee area or else in the Appalachian Mountains,” he says.
He discovered LVT while passing by on his way to class, then checked out its Website. Training began in January of this year. “I was not sure how I would like it but it’s more rewarding than I thought,” says Ryan, who teaches along with volunteer Chris Donovan.
The class, all women, numbers between 17 and 20. Many of the women have kids who go to Esperanza. “It’s a tightknit community. Somebody is always bringing in food,” says Ryan “Their No. 1 goal is to communicate with their child’s teacher. We get them to talk about themselves and their families. But we do grammar too.”
To that end, he and Chris came up with a game to help learn about prepositions. “We put things on top of a table, a ball with a cup and plate. Then we had Teams A and B stand behind tape on the floor. Then we had directions like, ‘Put the ball on top of the cup.’ They had to run and do it. So it’s memorization and being able to do it.”
There are no prizes, except, perhaps, the one Ryan sees on his students’ faces. “The light bulbs are going off. That is the ultimate prize.”