My name is Zul Martinez. I’ve been married for 21 years, to my husband, Sam. We have two fun and loud teenage boys, Gabriel and Christian. I am a former Hillsborough County school teacher, and have been homeschooling my boys for the past ten years. I thoroughly enjoy reading, teaching, rollerblading, cooking, eating, and traveling. Oh, and tutoring!
How long have you been tutoring, and what brought you to tutor with the HLC?
I started tutoring adults for the HLC earlier this year, 2021. As I browsed through the Library’s Cooperative website last year, I located this service and sent in my application just to learn more about the program.
I have been an avid user of the library system, from my days in the classroom; to checking out books for my boys regularly through the years; to participating in its Baby Time, Toddler Time, and Summer Programs. It is a fantastic resource for the community and much is done with excellence. I figured, this program had to be…and IS good!
What impact do you think you have made on your students’ lives?
Precisely a week ago, my student greeted me with the biggest smile. She shared how earlier that day she had completed an application for her son’s confirmation and how she understood every question and was able to answer it all correctly. She also, with much pride, showed me a book she had read and fully understood cover-to-cover. It made my day! I told her I was proud of her. Her eyes watered. My eyes watered. We hugged. And we got down to business…
You see, this is real life. Our adult students are working hard at doing life here in the U.S., just like you and me, but with the barrier of a complicated language, and a different culture. Helping them make sense of the world around them is a huge gain for them…and for the community. I feel if they’ve taken the steps to learn more, that’s a gain in itself.
What a blessing is the HLC!
What impact has tutoring with the HLC had on your life?
My student’s success story is my success!
My student often tells me how our lessons have helped her make sense of conversations from the past, information she’s been presented, even parent-teacher conferences at her son’s school. It brings me overwhelming joy and satisfaction that our meetings are helping her navigate her surroundings and her life just a bit better.
She often mentions how she’s motivated to meet because I show up. But truth be known, I am motivated to meet because she shows up. An amazing symbiotic cycle, indeed!
What advice would you give a new tutor?
I would say, listen to your student. Allow for ample time to understand his /her struggles and what s/he desires to learn. The library, and the HLC have plenty of materials a tutor can implement for instruction. Take time to learn the basics of the English language; the phonemes that create sounds; the anatomy of words. Take time to review basic sight words…
Every little bit covered, every question answered, every new thing learned, could make a world of difference to our friends.
You can do this!