Meet Jo - December's Literacy Leader!

Lincoln ABE – Mankato volunteer Jo Johnson has been volunteering in English language classes (ESL) for 17 years. She knew there was a need for adult literacy volunteers, and she was finally able to start volunteering after her retirement. Jo always suspected it would be a good volunteer opportunity for her, but she’s been pleasantly surprised by just how wonderful adult ESL has been.

“It’s been the most rewarding job I could ever imagine,” Jo says. Jo volunteers three hours a day, three days a week. Over the past 17 years, she’s worked with all levels but currently works with students on pre-diploma and basic reading skills. “I love teaching reading and spelling,” she says.

According to Alison Troldahl, Family and Community Engagement Coordinator for Mankato Area Public Schools, which operates the program, Jo has been an integral part of the volunteer program, and has gone above and beyond in caring about the students.

Jo’s focus on her students is evident in her favorite part of volunteering: when a student grasps the concepts. Another favorite: “the thanks and appreciation the students show every day!” The students aren’t the only ones learning. Jo adds, “I have learned so much about other countries, their cultures and resilience. I remember when a teacher’s husband died unexpectedly, and the students prayed and brought food and were so supportive.”

Alison says that the teachers can always count on Jo, but for Jo it’s easy to be dependable. “It’s a useful, thank-filled job -- plus it’s a lot of fun,” says Jo.

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

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