Tutor of the Year Award
Khadija Lakhtir
Albany Park Community Center, Chicago
Our Tutor of the Year Award this year goes to Khadija Lakhtir who tutors English as a Second Language (ESL) at Albany Park Community Center. What puts her above and beyond is the enthusiasm with which she tutors her students and the sincere interest she has in their success. She is always sure to engage her students in conversations and figure out their needs and in that way is better able to maximize their success both in and out of the classroom.
Khadija goes the extra mile and expects the most of herself and therefore often assigns herself homework to prepare for lessons. She will spend time studying and preparing (all the while exhausting all resources and materials) to ensure that her learners are able to get the most out of her lessons. She is very involved with creating the individualized learning plans for her students to work on improving test scores.
All of her hard work has culminated in high test scores and better acclimation to the Chicago area. In comparing pre and post tutoring test scores using the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS), there was a vast improvement in every single one of Khadija’s students. Even outside of the academic world, Khadija helps her students on instruction on different skills such as getting and using a library card, reading medical information, using public transportation, and much more! She will even go out of her way to help students who are not able to attend classes on the Albany Park schedule or who need additional assistance. Albany Park Community Center is extremely grateful for all the work Khadija has put into their program and are happy to have nominated her for this award!
Outstanding Tutor Awards

Carrie Breitbach, Indo-American Center, Chicago

Although Carrie has only been at the Indo-American Center for six months, she has made a huge impact on all of her students. Carrie’s co-nominators Laura Smith and Renuka Sharma explain that she helps with tutoring in the classroom as well as volunteering outside of the classroom for the betterment of the immigrant community. Carrie is always prepared to include everyone in her lesson plans by bringing a writing sample to class to focus on grammar. Her students are excited about her classes, and one student even exclaims, “I will make sure I NEVER miss class with Carrie!”

Ipara Chase, Indo-American Center, Chicago

When it comes to innovation in the classroom, co-nominators Laura Smith and Renuka Sharma say that Ipara brings out all the stops. In the past year, Ipara has incorporated music and dance in the classroom to tutor over 50 students! Whether she is filling in for English classes at any level or focusing on women’s rights to empower many of the female students to continue with their English learning, Ipara has made a big difference at the Indo-American Center.

Danielle Elliott, Centro Romero, Chicago

Danielle caters to her students’ individual needs by engaging them in thoughtful questions. She recently had a student who after just two short tutoring years has been able to pass the math, social studies, and constitution portions of the GED due to their hard work together. Her student is now even involved in a city college culinary bridge program! Danielle’s nominator, Debbie Kapustka, says that she “is definitely passionate about her volunteerism and she has shown that she is truly committed, interested, and dedicated to her students’ success.”

Helen and Ben Mui, Pui Tak Center, Chicago

Helen and Ben join the Pui Tak Center as a tutoring duo and as nominator Annikka Bouwsma puts it, “We are very happy to have both Helen and Ben serving in our program!” Helen and Ben put forth the extra effort to make sure their students really understand what they are saying, rather than just regurgitating answers. The twosome even had a student recently pass her citizenship test! While Ben originally came to help his wife Helen who is currently studying to get her Master’s degree in TESOL, they now both tutor on their own in addition to as a pair.

Kate Nadolski, Project CARE - Morton College, Cicero

Kate is a tutor that definitely takes the needs of the student into consideration when catering lesson plans. She considers all of her students’ learning styles and adjusts her lesson plans for both her one-on-one tutoring as well as her small group ABE class. By individualizing her teaching styles, she is more easily able to put herself in her students’ shoes and therefore better help them. Irina Cline states that Kate encourages her students to always speak in English, even if they make mistakes so they can practice their grammar and vocabulary.


Sandra Ramirez, Project CARE - Morton College, Cicero

In the words of her nominator Irina Cline, Sandra is “an exceptional group tutor.” Sandra states that the key to teaching her group sessions is finding the balance between the different English levels by finding activities that can be modified to work for everyone. The proof of her hard work is in her students’ test scores and self-confidence. Sandra makes sure to always encourage her students and can relate to how they feel because, as she tells them, it is how she felt 11 years ago.

Connie Wong, Pui Tak Center, Chicago

Connie is a joy to have as a volunteer in our program!” says nominator Annikka Bouwsma. Connie develops close relationships with her students that are desirable for any tutor-student pair! She is always willing to accommodate her tutoring to the needs of her students to provide better contextual learning or to base the tutoring on what learning style works best for them. Connie is a tutor that is always looking ahead for resources for different challenges and is one of Pui Tak’s “most dedicated tutors”!

Click here to view the Program with full list of Outstanding Tutors

Read the proclamation for
Volunteer Literacy Day by
Mayor Rahm Emanuel