Meet Karen - September's Literacy Leader!

When Karen Verburg worked for a family collaboration in six elementary schools in Mankato Area Public Schools, she served as a support between home and school and often knew adult ESL students as the parents of her elementary students. Since she retired from her long career in K-12, she has spent much of her free time volunteering with those parents, along with other adults, at the Mankato Area Adult Basic Education program.

Karen has been volunteering with Mankato ABE for the past seven years, spending four mornings a week working with the lead teacher to determine which skills to focus on with her ESL students. Karen says that she enjoys “the challenge of finding and preparing materials that correspond to the particular needs of groups or individuals.” Alison Troldahl, Family and Community Engagement Coordinator for Mankato Area Public Schools, says she commends Karen on her many years of volunteer service and adds that she’s been “an integral part of the volunteer program.”

As for her favorite part of volunteering, Karen can’t decide: “all of it—the people, the program, seeing the growth, the appreciation, the challenges. I keep coming back because it’s what I love. I may be retired, but the stimulation, the social aspect, the ways [it keeps] me active, both physically and mentally, all keep my life meaningful.”

Alison says that one of the benefits Karen brings to the volunteer program is how much she cares about the students and adds, “the teachers can always count on [her].”

Karen’s dedication to and caring for her students is what makes her a Literacy Leader, and she wants people to know, “life is for experiencing, for discovering what our individual skills are and throwing them into the pot of life so we all benefit from each other.”

Thank you for all you do, Karen, and congratulations!

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