Joan Prince is our "Volunteer Spotlight" this quarter. She first started in the GED® program with Southeast Community College three years ago. During that time, she was able to work one-on-one with many students, including 19-year old Mortel Crawford, who is visually impaired.
"I was honored to know that he graduated after several months of helping him with lots of studying," Prince said. "I was also able to attend his (graduation) reception."
Prince is now volunteering at the Lancaster County Jail through SCC's GED® program. It's a good fit since she spent 11 years as a child abuse and juvenile worker. Every Friday, Joan spends two hours getting to know some of the inmates by listening to them talk about their past and hopes for the future. She wants them to succeed almost as much as they do.
"Sometimes, just getting out the multiplication flash cards for a few minutes helps the students see where they need to start, or it gives them confidence," she said. "Others are very advanced, using this time and support to work on the GED® test skills and curriculum."
She says it's definitely a mix of skill levels, and quite the challenge. She even had to re-learn how to work with fractions all over again in order to be a better teacher.
Joan said when her kids were little, she always made a point to read to them. When they got a little older and developed their own interests, she would find books that would appeal to those interests. Her daughter loved science fiction, while her son read about video games.
"If you can find what interests you, reading about that interest will make reading fun, not work," she said.
When Joan has spare time, she enjoys reading about the next destination for her vacation.
"I hope I have touched many lives and given them some direction that they too can pass on to their own children and others."
"If you don't think you can do it, you can. I know--because I did it!" said Diego Miguel.
Miguel, 27, has come a long way. He almost gave up his goal of earning his GED® diploma. He felt his goal was unreachable while working full-time in Crete and raising a young family. He was tired.
"I get up at 4:00 a.m. to get to my job on time," Miguel said. "It was not always easy to get to class and then go home to my girlfriend and help with our children, ages 1 and 3. It was hard."
However, Diego set his own personal goal by earning his diploma by the end of 2016. He ended up finishing it five months early at the end of July.
"I am just so happy," Miguel exclaimed. "I worked hard day after day and read a lot. I put in so many extra hours, but it helped."
Miguel was born in Guatemala. At the age of four, his mother left for the United States to make a better life for the family. His father had already left before that. His grandmother was now his caregiver. When he was 13, she died. He and his brother left to go find them.
There were many struggles and terrifying moments, but he and his brother eventually made it to Minnesota to be with his parents. Life wasn't as easy as he thought it would be. Miguel dealt with anger and emotional issues and ended up dropping out of high school. Eventually, he moved to Omaha to find a job.
Miguel began taking GED® classes at SCC in 2014. He attended Jeannine VanLaningham's GED® class at the Good Neighbor Center.
"Jeannine was so encouraging to me," Diego said. "She helped me so much."
Volunteer Nicholas Kass was also a source of support for Miguel.
"Nick showed me so many different ways to do math," Miguel said. "He was so patient and showed me step-by-step how to do algebra problems."
Diego also had the opportunity to do some of his work online. He said he learned a lot from the computer programs.
"It is so great that SCC Adult Education has these for the students" he commented.
He is extremely proud to be the first one in his immediate family to have a high school diploma. His goal for the future is to go to college and become an electrician or an auto mechanic.
"Time will tell," he said, with a big smile. "Right now, I just want to enjoy where I'm at. I'm just so happy."
Claudia Reinhardt is our "Volunteer Spotlight" this quarter. She currently volunteers in SCC's Family Literacy class at Elliott Elementary in Lincoln. She enjoys tutoring adults and hearing about their life experiences.
"I believe in the power of literacy," Reinhardt said. "Helping with the Family Literacy Program seemed to be a logical progression. We have a great teaching team at Elliott School and I enjoy the many languages and cultures represented in the classroom. I love one-on-one teaching and I've learned so much from our students. I've also encouraged some retired teacher friends to volunteer."
Originally from Illinois, Reinhardt has also lived in Colorado, Iowa and Boston while earning academic degrees and working in public relations and fundraising for educational institutions. She moved to Lincoln in 2000.
In her spare times she enjoys hiking, biking, yoga, gardening and reading. She is active in her church and loves to travel. During the summer she and her husband went on a bike tour through Belgium and the Netherlands.
"The rural terrain was similar to Nebraska, but with scenic canals and iconic windmills," she said.
Last year she turned 65 and published her first collection of poetry and photography: Skating on the Sky. She says the title comes from a poem about the Sandhill Crane migration.
Reinhardt says she is inspired from this quote from Richard F. Wilson, president of Illinois Wesleyan University.
"Search for what is true. Stand for what is just. And strive to make a difference."
Review by Frederick Clopeck
This is the only book I've read this decade with pandas on the cover. It's a guide for proper punctuation. It is about the development and use of our modern punctuation system. The author is entertaining and it's readable. Don't skip the long introduction or the new preface in the (2004) North American edition.
Punctuation marks are, of course, needed to clarify our written words. They make reading easier, and they reduce miscommunication. Unfortunately, they developed in different fields and have changed over time. Styles vary. There is no central authority when it comes to punctuation. There are opposing schools of thought concerning them.
When careless writers use marks incorrectly, it can be very annoying. When good writers use them in a manner unfamiliar to the reader, it can also be annoying. Some people just get very annoyed over dashes or mid-sentence parentheses -used correctly or not.
Ms. Truss recounts how many writers and publishers became obsessed with certain punctuation marks. In particular, it led to heated exchanges over the uses of commas, dashes and semi-colons. They were either for or against them, often fanatically. Their positions led to ridiculous over applications of, or conspicuous absences of the needed marks.
In addition to the humorous and numerous solecisms in this book, most chapters contain guidelines for the accepted use of punctuation marks. We can call the book educational.
Lynne Truss tells us of other authors who also tried to write entertaining books concerning punctuation. Chekhov attempted to make this dry subject humorous by having punctuation marks visit a sleeping secretary in a nightmare. Rules were recited to disperse them.
More fun reading includes the examples of absent or poorly placed hyphens and commas. A pickled fish salesman is certainly different from a pickled-fish salesman. The hyphen clarifies.
"Eats, Shoots and Leaves" was a British bestseller a few years ago and this is the second time I've read it. The preface to this North American edition has a bit more on the differences between British and American punctuating styles. There also is an engaging foreword by Frank McCourt, an Irish-American author and teacher.