Fiona's story - Award winning 26TEN volunteer
It was delightful to see well-deserving winner, Fiona Armstrong accept the TasTAFE Education, Science and Technology Award as part of the Tasmanian Volunteering Awards for 2018. Fiona received her award from TasTAFE CEO, Jenny Dodd and Kate Warner, Governor of Tasmania.
Jenny Dodd, CEO of TasTAFE, Fiona Armstrong and Kate Warner, Governor of Tasmania
Fiona has made an outstanding contribution to her local community by helping change people’s lives. As an adult literacy tutor at Glenorchy Library, She builds confidence and literacy skills in people who thought they would never learn to read or write. She supports 26TEN by sharing her story and supporting the adult learners she tutors to share their stories. This builds understanding that adult literacy as a complex issue. It has many contributing factors and an impact on individuals and communities. Fiona helps 26TEN work to break down stigma. She lets everyone know it's never too late to learn or to volunteer to help
As a literacy tutor, Fiona works with the Libraries Tasmania literacy coordinators to establish each student’s individual requirements for learning. She prepares and delivers lessons and monitors their progress, adjusting her teaching to suit their needs.
A key part of her role is building the students’ belief in themselves and their confidence that they can learn and achieve their goals. To trust her they need to know she is reliable, flexible, credible and authentic.
Fiona has worked with as many as seven students at a time. Her students have diverse needs and skill levels. They include those who speak English as another language and those with special needs. She teaches skills such as letter-sound recognition, writing narratives, and comprehension.
The confidence Fiona encourages in her students enables them to apply new skills to improve their daily lives.
For example, one learner could not catch a bus. With skills she learned and practised with Fiona she was able to apply for a Greencard online and read the bus timetable. This gave her opportunities for work and study. It benefits her family, friends and the Tasmanian community.
Another benefit is when her students are able to read to their children for the first time and take that vital step in breaking the cycle of low literacy.
Fiona’s passion for adult literacy and volunteering is infectious. "I really enjoy seeing people's confidence soar when their literacy improves and they suddenly realise what they are capable off."
That's why she is successful as a tutor, colleague and role model who inspires others to take action on an adult literacy, an issue that impacts all Tasmanians.