POSTED: April 17, 2017
By Rachel Winsberg

Di and Caroline can’t stop smiling. After 11 months of diligent studying together, Di has passed her High School Equivalency Exam. Both women live near LSH, Di in Kensington and Caroline in Fishtown. We spoke with the two of them to hear their perspectives on working as learner and tutor in the LSH Adult Education & Career Development Program. See an excerpt of their interview below, and read the full interview on our website.

Why did you decide to seek out tutoring?
Doris “Di” Kissling: It was definitely time. I’ve put it off as long as I possibly could, and I needed a change. I wanna go back to school, and in order for me to do that I need to get my GED. So that’s the first step. Well…the first step is actually getting out of the truck and coming into the building! But, I’m glad I did.

What goals do you have for yourself?
DK: I want to work in the medical field. As I told Jill, scrubs are kinda comfortable! You’re working in a nice environment with people. Some days can be kind-of rough, but days are rough everywhere! I like to help people. So getting my GED was a start. I want to buy a house up in the mountains, and just be up there.

Caroline, what inspired you to volunteer as a tutor?
Caroline Hall-Eastman: I tutored a lot in high school and college and I really enjoyed it. I also taught ESL for two months. That was all people who were older than me, and I loved that. I enjoyed how motivated a lot of people were, and how engaged. And it’s really nice working one-on-one.
DK: Yeah, the one-on-one was definitely the best part.

Tell me about a time during the past almost year that you’ve been working together that there was a big success.
DK: It was pretty much all the time. We started with our essays, and I can honestly tell you that when I go and I read through them, I went from writing at a 2 to writing at a 5. It was a big step. From not being in school for as long as I was. I couldn’t have been here without Caroline.
CHE: I feel like every time we came here there’d be a success. It’s hard to pick just one because Di would pick things up so quickly.
DK: I loved having her as a tutor. I’m going to miss her!

What pushed you away from pursuing your education?
DK: I was going to an urban school. I was in with the wrong people, problems happened, and I got expelled in 11th grade. They sent me to Kensington, and I didn’t want to be there, so the day I turned 18 I told my mom that I wasn’t going back. I stayed working, anything to keep my mind occupied. I tried going back to school in 2004 to be a medical assistant. I finished the entire course, then I was told that the school went under for fraud, that it wasn’t accredited. I just felt like, all that hard work, for nothing. So that damaged the psyche a little bit.

So you gave them your money and you were left with nothing?
DK: Yes, and I’m still paying them back. I was left with a piece of paper that I don’t even remember what I did with. It stunk! I had perfect attendance, I had awards and everything! I went to school all the time, I liked it.

Caroline, what did you learn from Di?
CHE: I learned a lot. I feel like I was learning every time we were together. I was just really impressed every with how motivated she was. How much work she put in, how excited you were to do absolutely anything. I got a little better at planning lessons.

What was the hardest thing you had to learn?
DK:  Linear equations. I think I wrote “grr” on the top of the paper!
CHE: And you didn’t like multiplying polynomials!

What has it been like doing this process with LSH? Do you feel like you have a relationship with the organization?
CHE: Yeah definitely. Throughout the process, I was talking to Jill about the learning plan, and it’s just been incredibly helpful in deciding how to structure what we focus on. And also, running into tutors and learners is nice. There’s this sense that we’re all working towards the same thing.
DK: I overhear people working and I think, “that sounds just like me!”

What would you say to someone who also wasn’t able to complete their graduation?
DK: It’s never too late to go back. It’s not. This is probably the best decision I’ve made in my life. I’ve made some pretty dumb ones, and this one is by far the best. I would encourage them to come.