Literacy Rochester Match Story: John and Johnny

One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”

– Seneca

This quote is especially true for the match between John Miller and Johnny Thornton.

While in his early years at Kodak in the 1950s, John Miller worked full time during the day and took classes in the evening at the University of Rochester. After 10 years of working days and going to college at night, he graduated with a degree in Mathematics and Physics. A lifelong Rochesterian, he retired from Kodak after 35 years.

John came to Literacy Rochester in 2009 looking for an opportunity to help someone. He understood the meaning of hard work and commitment to getting the job done. He was matched with Johnny Thornton in 2010 and the two have met every week for the past twelve years.

Johnny is a gentleman in his mid-fifties who found learning to read difficult, especially in high school. He received learning support while in school but found life after graduation was filled with challenges in reading and math. With some learning support through a local Education Center, he got by the best he could. He came to Literacy Rochester in 2009 looking for someone to help him to improve his reading.

He was matched with John and the two started meeting weekly at the Maplewood Library. Their sessions focus on word meanings and reading for understanding. They also attempt math problems which are still a challenge for Johnny. Johnny has maintained full time employment for over two years at a job he enjoys.

Although he has had his ups and downs through the years with work and life changes, Johnny has been consistent in meeting with his tutor John each week. Their time together has evolved into a friendship and Johnny refers to John and John’s wife as his “second parents”.

When asked what he thought the best thing about tutoring was for him, John replied, “I have a good understanding that there are all kinds of people who have a time learning but they can succeed if they work hard”.

Now ninety years of age, John has advice for new tutors: “Be patient and understanding about what your student’s limitations might be. But also understand what their abilities are and encourage them to never give up.”

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