Pat Osborn is an Elkhart native who was educated in the Elkhart school system. She’s also part of Horizon Education Alliance’s valued team of volunteer tutors, giving her time and effort to help adult students achieve educational success.
Before going back to college, Pat worked as a paraprofessional in accounting and finances. Prior to that, she worked at the Chicago Board of Trade.
“I was making good money, but I was living in Chicago and my father was diagnosed with cancer,” she said. Pat later returned home to help care for him.
“I came home and dad told me, ‘You started out in college at one time to be a teacher,’” she recalled. “‘Maybe now is the time to go back and become a teacher.’”
Remarkably, Pat had been thinking the same thing. Now she has a master’s degree in teaching.
“At the age of 47 I decided to go back to college to be a teacher,” Pat said. “I couldn’t make up my mind as to which grade level, but a fellow classmate suggested special education.” This seemed to be a perfect fit.
“I also specialized in reading, because I realized when I was substitute teaching that there were so many students who couldn’t read well,” she said. “There’s quite a population of non-English speakers as well. I took Spanish at Indiana University. You can talk to me in Spanish and I’ll understand 90 percent of what you’re saying.”
When she got close to retirement, Pat signed up to be an English tutor. She’s been a volunteer with Horizon Education Alliance (HEA) for five years, tutoring in the English Language Learning segment of Horizon’s Adult Pathways System. Sandra Ibarra is the fourth person Pat has tutored at HEA.
“Sandra and I have a very unique relationship,” Pat said. “She’s teaching me Spanish, too. She’ll say something in Spanish and I’ll answer her in English, and then I make her say it in English and I’ll try to respond in Spanish. It’s a back and forth.”
Pat and Sandra meet once a week, anywhere from one to four hours. “It’s intensive, but it’s pleasant and we enjoy each other’s company,” Pat said.
Over the past five years, Pat has found it rewarding to see her students progress in the English language and grow in their understanding of it.
“In turn, they get promoted at their jobs and positions because they have a better command of the language, she said. “I also enjoy the cultural exchange – I have a much deeper understanding of the Latino culture now.”