June Hyjek is an award-winning Author and Certified Mind-Body Coach, as well as a Scoliosis Advocate and patient. Her books, meditations, and workshops offer hope and encouragement to people experiencing life’s challenges. She is the author of “Unexpected Grace: A Discovery of Healing through Surrender,” an inspirational story of her personal journey in dealing with Scoliosis, and a meditation CD, “Moving into Grace.” June’s latest book, “Being Grace: A Story for Children about Scoliosis,” shares the emotional consequences of having Scoliosis through the eyes of Grace, a young giraffe who learns to accept the differences in herself, not just in others. June is currently “semi-retired” and spends her time volunteering with HLC as well as with Lifepath Hospice.
How long have you been tutoring, and what brought you to tutor with the HLC?
I’ve been tutoring for a little over a year, and have two students I see weekly who are part of the adult basic literacy program. When I learned about this program – people who went through our education system, but fell through the cracks and cannot read or write – It made me very aware of how fortunate I have been to have grown up with a great school system, wonderful teachers, and a father who made sure I got the education I needed. My parents both stressed the importance of language and I grew up with a love of words and books. I felt like I could help someone else who wasn’t given the same kind of education, give them the tools they need to function better in their lives, and hopefully lead them to discover their own joy in language.
What impact do you think you have made on your students’ lives?
My students tell me they are able to navigate better in their daily lives, with things like grocery lists, menus, street signs, writing checks, and even business reports and emails. But what has been even more gratifying to see is their increased self-confidence. They speak, email and text more freely, and they’re more comfortable venturing outside their usual activities and places, confident that they can manage. They believe more in themselves and no longer think their literacy level is an inherent weakness, realizing instead that it’s just a set of skills that they can and want to learn.
What impact has tutoring with the HLC had on your life?
Well, I am certainly more aware of how difficult our language can be to learn, with all the rules of grammar and spelling (which are often randomly broken)! Most importantly, though, I am humbled by the dedication and courage I see in my students at facing this type of challenge. They have encouraged me to face my own challenges, and they remind me of the importance of always trying to grow, learn new things and improve myself, no matter where I am in life.
What advice would you give a new tutor?
Regarding the actual tutoring, I would advise them to look for creative ways to apply the lessons to that student’s particular work/family/community life. The more relevant the lessons are to their real life and interests, the better they will learn. But I think it’s just as important to address what new tutors may experience themselves. There have been times in the last year when I felt like I was in way over my head. I questioned myself and was frightened by the idea that my students trusted me so much to help them, while I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d be willing to bet that all or most tutors go through this. You see how eager your students are and how hard they’re working. It can put a lot of pressure on you and create insecurities as a new tutor. So, I would tell new tutors who experience these feelings to just relax. No one is asking you to be perfect. If your heart is in it, you will do fine. It all comes together. By just showing up and caring, you are already helping.
For more: Tutor Spotlight Archive