Volunteer Spotlight: Madelon Issaeff


Name: Madelon Issaeff


Program: High School Equivalency Prep 


Years with LIFT 5+


Where are you from originally? New York


How did you get involved in adult literacy? About 30 years ago, back when I was living in New York, I got involved in reading books for the blind through Lighthouse Guild, a non-profit that provides programs and services for people who are blind or visually impaired.   After that, I got involved as an adult literacy tutor with the Pittsburgh library system.  I worked one-on-one with adults to help them learn how to read or improve their reading skills.  When I moved to Texas, I started volunteering as an ESL tutor.


Favorite thing about your job with LIFT? I really like working with students, especially when they’re learning.  I get a lot of satisfaction when my students improve their reading and writing skills.  I am inspired and motivated by the students in my class and their efforts to learn.  They work hard and try hard.  I really appreciate that.

Overall, I have found that working with adults to improve their reading and writing has been one of the more satisfying things I’ve done in terms of volunteering.


Advice for prospective volunteer teachers? Initially, I was reluctant to teach because I had never taught a class before and didn’t know if I could do it.  My advice for any prospective volunteers who are dealing with this type of uncertainty is to focus on the students – their needs – and the anxiety will disappear.  The students are coming to class to learn.  They are motivated and focused on improving themselves.  Once you realize this, you forget about self doubt.


Advice for students? Show up and do the work!  I’m a complete nag when it comes to showing up for class and doing your homework.  I tell my students they will be able to move ahead much quicker in the program if they show up and do the work.