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Tutor Spotlights

Meet Barbara, 2023 Tutor of the Year

Image of Barbara

Spotlight on Barbara

Barbara is a patient, dedicated tutor and great friend.


Congratulations to Barbara Lawler, LVSC's 2023 Tutor of the Year! 

After a 36-year career working for Colgate Palmolive company, Barbara retired and wondered how she might spend her time. She saw an article about LVSC in the newspaper and enrolled in LVSC’s four-week Tutor Training Workshop. She has been working with her student, Vicky for five years. They worked together through the pandemic, meeting sometimes in person and often on the phone! They have created a safe place to learn together, to grow together and to change each other's lives. Here is their story:

Vicky:  I first came to the United States from Ecuador in 2004.  I did not know any English. I studied in Ecuador to be a nurse and learned some English but it was not the same.  I work cleaning houses with only people who speak Spanish.  Before I started studying English with Barbara, I would take my things and clean very fast but I never spoke to the customers.  My hands worked but my mouth did not. I could not understand anything they were saying.

Vicky learned about LVSC from the newspaper. Her friend called LVSC and she started working with tutor Barbara in 2018.

Barbara and Vicky during a tutoring session.

Vicky:  Barbara has been very patient and kind with me.  She speaks very slowly which helps me understand very much.  When I am sad, she only has kind words for me and when I am happy we laugh together.  We make a good team because we are both flexible with each other.  So now, after five years, I can speak to my customers.  They understand me and I understand them.  I can even laugh with them.  The girls who work with me will call me to talk to the customers when they cannot understand.  What is even more important is that I understand what the doctors and teachers are saying when I have to speak to them about my children.  This year I had to enroll my son in 12th grade and I understood everything we needed to do.

Barbara: As I thought about my career which started in the sciences--I was an engineer--the real key to my success was not all the math and science. It was the ability to speak and to write, which became a big focus of my job in the second half of my career. Unless you can communicate and share the benefit of your ideas, all the math and science in the world is not enough. 

Vicky has a true determination and passion. Despite the fact that she has so little time in her day and in her week, she always makes time for her lesson.  She works six days a week, she manages the needs of three children and is very active in her church, on the one day she has off.  I first met Vicky in the Raritan library. It was perfect because she could bring daughter who participated in children’s programs and Vicky and I could meet in a reading room. When Covid hit, we didn’t let that stop us.  Admittedly, neither of us is a Zoom expert so we made it work just using the phone.  It’s amazing what you can do with that.

One aspect of my job is matching tutors and students. It’s a special responsibility, because often matches go beyond the tutoring commitment and new friendships are formed. That is certainly the case with Vicky and Barbara. -Susan Engelstein, Program & Events Manager.