Isela Gutierrez is our spotlighted employee this month. Isela is our newest instructor as well as being one of our most versatile and effective. She came to LearningQuest having worked for many years at Parent Institute for Quality Education as an associate director. She was accustomed to teaching adults, but not use to teaching the content for high school equivalency testing. She worked hard and learned what she needed to know to be successful. In her short time here, she already has just shy of eight students who have graduated (one needs to pass only one more test to graduate).
Isela is versatile because she teaches both English and Spanish GED preparation and teaches both general public and incarcerated adults. She also teaches English to inmates in the county jail. When she first started teaching Spanish GED she was challenged by the lack of curriculum. There were no published materials for the new test, so she had to translate from English materials. “I spent a lot of time on the internet researching materials that were available in Spanish but also used the videos to give me ideas of strategies to help students understand the concepts,” she said. She is just finishing teaching the last of four subjects and is looking forward to repeating the subjects since it won’t be as difficult to prepare this time.
Isela told about one of her students who has her same name, — Isela. This student only finished grade school in Mexico so she had to learn all the math skills of multiplication and division up through algebra and geometry. This student told her in the beginning she was so lost and she doubted she could ever learn it. This student persevered, however, worked on her own, got extra help with tutoring from her instructors and recently passed all her tests for a diploma. In the county jail, Isela had a similar student with a similar lack of skill who kept wanting to quit, but now told her he realizes he can do it, “Because of what you and Hallie (the other instructor) have taught me and the strategies you have showed me, I can now see a different path I can take for myself and my son.” Isela overcame much in her own life by moving with her parents to the United States at age 17 and starting her senior year in a country whose language she could not speak.
Isela said it has surprised her how often students come into the program and don’t believe in themselves until they start doing their homework assignments and then they realize it is possible to learn and to be successful in learning. “If I can make a difference in even one person’s life, then that’s enough for me,” she said.