January Literacy Leader: Rick Wriskey

Congratulations to Rick Wriskey, our January Literacy Leader and recipient of the Outstanding Volunteer-Honorable Mention award in 2012! Rick’s interest in volunteering was first sparked by his experience as an elementary school Volunteer Mentor in the Mounds View school district. “I didn’t actually hear about the need for literacy volunteers as much as I saw it firsthand,” says Rick. As a mentor, he was most struck by the fact that many of his students’ parents were reluctant to communicate with teachers or attend parent-teacher conferences due to their lack of English-language skills. In order to help these parents and others like them participate more fully in their children’s lives and the world around them, Rick decided to dedicate himself to the cause of literacy. Rick soon after began working as an ESL tutor/classroom assistant in Mounds View/New Brighton, and later relocated to Metro North-Blaine where he has been volunteering for the past four years.

Currently, Rick volunteers twice a week, co-teaching an ESL Level Three class on Wednesdays and assisting/tutoring in Level Two and Three ESL classes on Thursday. According to Glenice Jones, the volunteer coordinator at Metro North-Blaine, one of Rick’s greatest assets as a volunteer is his ability to assist learners of all levels and abilities, from pre-literate learners to more advanced students.  In this capacity, one can easily find Rick working one-on-one with learners, in small groups, and even teaching his own classes. Moreover, Rick’s facility with learners of other cultures is due in no little part to his experiences traveling, gaining fluency or function in a number of languages, and serving in the Peace Corps. His background allows Rick to connect with the diverse groups of students on a personal level and understand the struggles they are facing in the process of learning a new language.  For all these reasons, the learners at Metro North-Blaine seek out Rick as a tutor, mentor, and friend.

The most rewarding part of Rick’s volunteer experience is being surrounded by the enthusiastic and optimistic teachers, volunteers, and learners at Metro-North, who are all working together to achieve the goal of literacy. Rick truly understands how important this goal is. “With language ability, [these learners] can believe in their dreams and aspirations in this new country that they have come to,” he says. “I am grateful to simply be a small part of their journeys and hope to make a difference.”

Thank you, Rick, for your hard work and dedication as a literacy volunteer!

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