Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey (LVNJ), the umbrella organization over more than twenty literacy programs throughout the state, presented its “Award for Tutor Excellence” and “Award for Student Excellence” to individuals associated with Literacy Volunteers of Union County. The presentations were made at LVNJ’s 2012 Literacy for Life Conference on April 21 in West Windsor, NJ. Tutor Pat Thompson of Scotch Plains won the Award for Tutor Excellence and Anthony Pugliese of Kenilworth won the Award for Student Excellence.

“The fact that both a tutor and student from Literacy Volunteers of Union County received awards this year is a testimony to the Union County organization’s commitment to tutor and student support; to their investment in the success of those they serve and to the way they have built a learning community that allows their volunteers and students to reach their potential,” said Jessica Tomkins, executive director of Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey. “We received many more nominations this year than in the past few years – the field was especially competitive,” said Tomkins.

Pat Thompson has been serving as a Literacy Volunteer tutor for ten years. A retired Newark High School teacher, Pat was able to combine her experience in the classroom with Literacy Volunteers of Union County’s goal-centered philosophy to become one of the most respected tutors in the network. “Inspirational, dynamic, passionate, smart, empathetic, courageous, selfless, energizing, funny, engaging, animated, resourceful and caring,” said Elizabeth Gloeggler, executive director when describing Thompson.

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“During the past ten years Pat has given her sixteen students more than 700 hours of life-changing instruction.” She has also helped train more than 750 volunteer tutors since 2002. Thompson was also recognized for being a true innovator. She started a tutor apprenticeship program at Literacy Volunteers of Union County. “Over the years she worked with countless tutors mentoring them on their tutoring journey,” said Gloeggler. “She has always been the resident expert at integrating real-life materials into tutoring sessions.”

Anthony Pugliese was recognized for his significant accomplishments as a student in Literacy Volunteers of Union County’s Basic Skills Program and outspoken advocacy of the program. He turned to the organization nearly six years ago when he wanted to sit for his NJ boating license exam. After working with volunteer Susan Petrow of Westfield, Pugliese earned his boating license. He can now read a menu, supermarket and street signs, and enjoys checking out the magazines on the supermarket check-out lines.

“Anthony has made incredible progress, achieved many personal goals, and has gone above and beyond by becoming an advocate for the Literacy Volunteers program,” said Gloeggler. “He is eager to do what he can to support our program. He has become a true champion of literacy.” Pugliese’s writings have been published twice in the Literacy Volunteers of Union County’s student magazine. At one magazine roll-out event, he read his essay, “What Reading Means to Me” before an audience of more than 100 people. “He epitomizes all adults who struggle with reading and by sharing his personal story, he has motivated so many and let them know they are not alone,” said Gloeggler.