25 Years

Spotlight on Tutors: National Volunteer Week

April 15 -21, 2018 

“I’ve seen and met angels
wearing the disguise of ordinary people
living ordinary lives.”

~ Tracy Chapman

Seeds has a small staff and we simply would not be successful without our band of 200+ volunteers! This week, we’re shining the spotlight on just a few of the incredible people that make this organization special.

Loryn Green, Tutor

Loryn (left)  is a relatively new tutor at Seeds; however, she is no stranger to the education field. As a Special Education teacher, Loryn says that she loves Seeds because “I’m able to do what I love to do still, without the lesson plan.” In the Seeds classroom, Loryn shares not only her knowledge, but sense of humor, helping students learn while laughing along the way.

Although Loryn is willing to help any student with almost anything, ranging from fractions to Pre-HSE reading passages, there’s a certain student with whom she has formed a special bond. Said with a big smile,  Loryn shares that she enjoys “being abused daily by Miss Lynnette.”

Student Lynnette S. loves working with Loryn because “she makes me use my brain and work my head. She’s a sergeant of arms –she drills you. She shows you how to work it out and then she takes the paper away and you have to get busy.”

On behalf of Seeds, Lynnette, and all of our students, we are so glad to have you as a tutor. Thank you so much for your commitment to all of us.

~ Kara Krawiec, Seeds East Site Coordinator

Jennifer Rosenberg, Tutor

Seeds lives (or dies) by the quality of its volunteers. As a small organization, we simply couldn’t exist without the generosity of folks who feel a strong desire to give back. This is part of what makes Cleveland such a fantastic place to live.

I’d like to highlight the work of a tutor who’s been with Seeds since 2013, Jennifer Rosenberg. I’ll note that Jennifer is friendly, patient, and caring, though this describes so many of our tutors that these qualities alone don’t really make her stand out. Instead, what you immediately notice when you meet her is Jennifer’s sense of humor.

Furthermore, she’s willing to try just about anything if it will help a student succeed. I asked Rose, a student who works with Jennifer frequently, why she likes Jennifer as a tutor. Rose thought about it before giving me an answer.

“Jenny is a competent, smiley, funny, and patient person,” she finally told me.

Of the qualities she described, only one of them had anything to do with the subject material that Jennifer teaches; the rest of the things Rose said were all about attitude and temperament. And it’s true, Jennifer is absurdly easy to get along with, and she’s virtually always wearing a smile. That, combined with her willingness to hold students to a higher standard, allows her to be both an effective and engaging tutor. The fact that she’s also incredibly intelligent doesn’t hurt, either.

As a career educator, I know firsthand that being a good tutor takes a lot of energy, care, and effort. I’m very lucky to have volunteers in my classroom like Jennifer, who manage to make it seem easy.

~ Chris Richards, Seeds West Site Coordinator

Nancy Geschke, Tutor

Nancy (left) is an RN at North Shore Endoscopy. She will have been tutoring at Seeds for five years this summer. “My whole life, I thought about helping people with literacy,” she says. She did some research and discovered what she found to be the “most serious, best organized” entity: Seeds of Literacy.

Nancy does not take volunteering lightly. “Volunteerism has to be worth getting out of bed and going downtown on a bad, snowy day,” she says. For her, Seeds is worth it.

“She’s awesome, smart,” says Rose C., whom Nancy has worked with frequently. “I like the positive attitude she brings with her.”

One of Nancy’s fondest Seeds memories was attending graduation for one of the first students she worked with. “I felt like it was my own kid,” she says. The student got into a machinery program and ended up working for BMW.

His time at Seeds and with Nancy definitely prepared him: “He told me he used fractions every day.”

Thank you, Nancy, for coming to Seeds on those snowy days — and all the rest!

~ Billy Hallal, Seeds West, DLC

Diane Ferri, Tutor

Diane has been tutoring at Seeds East since its opening in 2014. After teaching Elementary Special Education in Cleveland Heights for 33 years, Diane decided she wanted to work with adults in her retirement, and has been coming to Seeds ever since.

Diane does it for the students, telling us that she “finds it rewarding to work with people who have so many obstacles in their lives, but an equal amount of determination.”

One of her students, Charmaine H., tells us that she really likes working with Diane because “she explains the concepts in ways that make sense, more so than in a large classroom.”

We are proud to have Diane as tutor at Seeds, and we thank her for being part of our family.

~ Todd Seabrook, Seeds East, DLC

Liz Khrenovsky, Tutor

Back in 2014, Liz (right) had a “soulless job in purchasing”. To give some purpose back to her life, she has been tutoring at Seeds. Four years later, she is still giving back to the Seeds family, specializing in Language Arts for the night classes at Seeds East.

She says, “It feels good when a student comes to you with a question, and your explanation helps bring clarity to the problem.”

Just ask Tawanna H., who said Liz “broke it down for me into easily understandable concepts. It makes a difference when someone takes the time to explain it one-on-one.”

Thank you Liz, for all the work you’ve done for our students. Seeds wouldn’t be possible without you.

~ Dan Riordan, Seeds East Site Coordinator

Lisa Isham, Tutor

“I tutor at Seeds of Literacy because volunteering has always been a big part of my life and I strongly believe in continuing to better yourself and to never stop learning,” said Lisa. “Finding an opportunity that combined the two was amazing, but knowing that I am making lasting connections with great people and helping make a difference in their lives is simply the most worthwhile volunteer work I have ever done.”

She continued, “The best part is working with the same student on their final subject and watching them pass to complete their GED. I had the honor to witness this with the first student I ever worked with, Melanie B. and it is the most rewarding feeling in the world.”

Recent graduate Melanie B. had this to say about Lisa: “If it were not for her, I don’t know how long it would have taken to pass the GED math exam. She was very patient and explained things several different ways until I found a method I was comfortable with.”

“I enjoy working with Lisa because she makes it sink in by drilling me in a positive way,” said Felix H. He explained it’s taken him awhile to catch on with math and language. He appreciates Lisa’s patience when he gets frustrated.

Thank you, Lisa, for making such a difference in the lives of Melanie, Felix, and so many others.

~ Shabreese Murphy, Seeds West Site Coordinator



Craig & Nancy Seabrook, Volunteers

When you work at a non-profit, your family sometimes gets “volunteered.” (Just ask Bonnie Entler’s husband Rich, or Jo Steigerwald’s husband photographer Jonathan.) Such is also the case with the Seabrooks (parents of Digital Literacy Coordinator Todd.)

Seeds East is located in a county building, with poor signage. Visitors to the county inadvertently came to us. Our visitors wandered, not knowing where to go. Something had to be done.

When the 7-foot vinyl sign arrived, I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to install. Todd explained the situation to his dad, who was quick to help out.

Mr. Seabrook put on his tool belt, BUILT A TEMPORARY SCAFFOLDING, climbed it, and painstakingly installed each letter. It looks amazing!

This wasn’t his first trip to Seeds, however. Mr. Seabrook has popped by to install bulletin boards and coat racks in the program office. He’s also delivered food to a hungry staff.

Not to be outdone, Mrs. Seabrook is responsible for the lasagna we enjoyed during our Thanksgiving Potluck. At Easter, she sent us a carrot cake, and she recently purchased a  storage container for our sugar. And she’s crafty, too! She helped with the design for our Reading Challenge Tree. We love hearing “Nancy Seabrook’s on the case!”

We know they help out because they love their son. But I wanted to make sure they knew that we adore them! 

~ Katie Kucera, Communications Director