Meet Our Tutors

Read below about the lives and experiences of some of our present and past tutors …

Roger Hawkins, AmeriCorps Member

Roger is excited to be part of AmeriCorps with LACA in Little Rock. Roger has tutored many students, trained new tutors, attended outreach events, and more. He is a coach and educator for retirement-aged adults. He has a Masters in Education from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Roger says that his commitment to empower children and adults to be the best persons that they already are has manifested in lots of different ways over the years. He has taught children in the classroom and tutored English for many years. He has coached marginalized adults to access community workforce and wellness services. A professional stage actor and director, he also ran school drama program. Several years ago, Roger and his wife moved to Little Rock from Delaware. He is very happy to be here where he gardens and gets to just hang out with Hope, his wife, and love life.

Sophia Ordaz

Sophia Ordaz

I was raised in Little Rock but I moved to Conway to begin my education at the University of Central Arkansas. Since then I’ve been grateful to have experiences living out of the state. In the summer of 2018, I undertook an editorial internship in New York City, and in the spring of 2019, I studied abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico. I graduated with a double major in English and Spanish from the University of Central Arkansas in 2020.

During my time at UCA, I took on leadership roles at the student newspaper and literary magazine. I also became interested in volunteer work. Last summer I got involved with El Zócalo, an immigrant resource center based in Little Rock, and, of course, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas! I got involved with Literacy Action because of my love of the English language and my desire to help others. Although I was a little nervous about teaching at first, I was able to discover through LACA how enriching it is, as well as meet my student, who is such a blessing to teach!

Growing up, some of my favorite memories were when my mom would take me to Little Rock’s amazing public libraries. We would spend hours there together, reading and coloring, and I would always come home with an armload of books. My mom is my biggest inspiration. It requires a lot of sacrifice and bravery to leave your loved ones behind and immigrate to another country like she did. Throughout my life, I’ve admired her resilience and perseverance, and am grateful for the love she gives to my family and me.

I love keeping my mind and body active. Now that I’m done with college and preparing for my next chapter, I spend my free time reading, discovering new music, and journaling. When it’s not too hot, you can find me longboarding or rollerskating down Little Rock’s beautiful bike trails. I’m proud of my ability to go out of my comfort zone. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had countless experiences that made me feel self-doubt and uncertainty, but sticking through them, whether it meant interviewing notable people for the student newspaper or living in an enormous metropolitan city without my friends and family, has taught me strength.

After I discovered how much I enjoy teaching English thanks to my involvement with LACA, I knew I wanted to teach English abroad at some point in my life.  Last year, I received word that I earned the Fulbright grant to teach English in Mexico! I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity and know that, come what may, I’ll do whatever I can to have cross-cultural experiences like this one. Other things on my bucket list are completing my graduate education, finishing my To Be Read pile, and going to as many concerts as I can.

(Photo credit to Lauren McLemore)
George Henderson

George Henderson

Chicago native George Henderson graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He learned about Literacy Action at a literacy festival, but his first exposure to illiteracy was through an adult family member who was being taught to read. “It was a surprise to me because he was getting through life and seemed to be making it okay.  Most literacy students are competent people, clever at hiding their handicap. I always loved to read and felt that anyone who couldn’t was missing a great deal.” George knows that more adults would seek help if it were not for the stigma associated with illiteracy. “The biggest hurdle is embarrassment.  People hesitate to seek help.”

George and his literacy student both work busy schedules but both make time to meet at least once during the week. George says that frequent communication helps the two stay on track. “I call my student every week to make sure he is going to make the session. The routine becomes part of your life.”

Like most tutors, George works with his student on practical skills that he can use every day. One of his student’s goals was to learn to write a check. “While we worked on his lessons, we also made check writing a side activity. The day he told me that he had written his first check without reservation or fear or embarrassment was a memorable reward for me.”

George had always wanted to give back to the community. At the end of every lesson, his student reads a little bit better. “He doesn’t struggle with the things he used to struggle with. Just knowing I have helped improve his life and opened the world of reading to him is all the benefit I need.”

Heidi Williams

Heidi Williams

Heidi Williams remembers well what it was like to move to a new country as a young girl. Her father was an American soldier stationed in Germany when he met and married her mother. When her family eventually settled in Little Rock, Heidi spoke only German and she recognized “how isolating it can be when you hear all the strange sounds around you and you cannot understand or make yourself understood.” But she quickly adapted to her new surroundings and started to learn English as a second language.

Little Rock has been Heidi’s home for most of her adult life and where she has worked for 43 years as an executive assistant. At her last employer, The Stephens Group, LLC, she had a conversation with a fellow employee about what she would do with her time when she retired. Her friend suggested that she should look into teaching others to read. “I knew I wanted to get involved in some type of community service, but I had not narrowed it down. After some research, I found Literacy Action and learned that the organization works with adult literacy and ESL students.” Based on her personal experience, Heidi felt that she would like to work as an ESL tutor.

After she completed her training, Heidi was assigned an ESL student from Thailand. “I have formal lesson plans for teaching my student to speak and write English, but we try to chat informally for at least 15-20 minutes at each lesson to give her the opportunity to improve her conversation skills.” Heidi adds, “The rewards are knowing you are making a difference in someone’s life by improving language skills and self esteem.”