Meet Mary Drew, November's Literacy Leader

At Franklin Learning Center in Minneapolis, Thursday afternoons are brightened by the enthusiasm of Mary Drew. Her genuine interest in the students she’s tutored over the past year and a half instills confidence in them. Mary is a retired IT consultant who heard about adult literacy work through the Hennepin County Library. Having experience travelling abroad and a love for new knowledge of cultures, it was Franklin Learning Center (FLC) that was the right fit for her. FLC has served the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis for over 27 years and continues to be a very popular adult literacy program, in part because of its one-to-one tutoring model.


 “I frequently work with students I’ve worked with before and they seem glad to spend some time with me. These students are inspired to learn and clearly appreciate whatever help I can provide”, she reflects. Her favorite subject to tutor is math. In regards to reading Mary jokes, “English is enjoyable too, though some of those complex verbs make me roll my eyes!”


Her program coordinator, Nancy Thornbury, says that Mary is a good sport about transitioning with fluidity between ESL and math tutoring. “Mary is very patient.  I have watched her teach multiplication facts, complex word problems and GED math.  It is exciting when she makes a breakthrough with a student”, Nancy shares. 


New volunteers can gain much wisdom from following Mary’s practices as a tutor. Her gentle way of guiding students in the learning process builds their confidence and independence. Her advice for new volunteers is to admit when they are unsure about or do not know something. “It provides the opportunity to work through a problem together. This gives the student the skill of checking their work and makes them more self-sufficient in working through things on their own, which is a life-long skill,” says Mary.


Mary describes herself as curious, optimistic, and determined. Those characteristics drive her to keep coming back. She says, “I like the one-to-one nature of the setting.  What I learn from the students about their lives teaches me things about our country that are quite amazing.  I feel like I am providing something of value, including friendship, to people who have made great sacrifices to come here to a strange place that is often confusing.” She says that there are many great moments in volunteering, but one of her favorites is when a student’s frustration turns into laughter.


We thank you, Mary for your ongoing service and positive impact! It is inspiring to have such a genuine and authentic volunteer who takes the time to build strong relationships with students. 

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Congratulations Mary!  I know you are making a difference in many people's lives!

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