2023 Fall Reception
Read below to learn more about our incredible honorees and their dedication to adult literacy and lifelong learning.
Volunteer service award
Mary Jane Vavra
Mard Little award for adult learner excellence recipient
Patricia Castillo Nolasco
Nominated by Karen Tinklenberg
Mexico and her native language is Spanish. She has been studying with the Kalamazoo Literacy
Council’s ESL of SWMI program since May 2022. She is an intermediate learner who is determined,
studious, and ambitious. Her instructor says she is very friendly, a joy to have around, and a pleasure to
Patricia has shown great progress in her English word usage, pronunciation, and reading skills. She is also polite, helpful to others, and consistently shows initiative. Her attendance has been very good, even though she doesn’t have a car and often walks to classes at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church from her home.
Patricia uses the books Patterns in Spelling and Fast Track Phonics, although in the latter she found
many lessons were too easy for her. Typically, she and her classmates study from News For You, a print and online publication about American culture and current events, where she especially likes the
crosswords. She regularly attends the Portage Public Library and recently checked out a graphic novel
that she read cover to cover!
Patricia has a degree in Industrial Engineering and looks forward to gaining employment with her
ever-improving language skills. She and her husband enjoy going to movies and out to restaurants.
MARD LITTLE AWARD FOR ADULT LEARNER EXCELLENCE nominee
Nominated by Vicki Konzen & Kathy Jefferies
“Ur,” as his friends call him, was an exemplary learner in both Level 1 and Level 2 ESL classes during
the 2022-2023 school year.
Uğur is a retired Turkish air force officer. One year ago, he and his children accompanied his wife to
Kalamazoo, who is working as a faculty assistant professor at Western Michigan University. He and his
wife are both interested in studying U.S. History and Civics, and he says his family is very happy here.
Uğur knew a little English before coming to the USA, but he also knew that, living here, he needed to
learn more. Uğur consistently arrived for class on time or early, and stayed all morning with an eagerness to learn, a positive attitude, and excellent study habits. Always prepared for class, Uğur did all the homework assignments and asked for more to study on his own at home. Uğur was very attentive in class, took copious notes, and was eager to participate in class activities, such as reading aloud, participating in discussions, sharing conversations with classmates, supplying answers to
practice exercises, and asking questions. Naturally quiet, but with a smile, Uğur offered to assist his
teachers and others in any way that he could. He is pleasant, kind, and respectful to everyone.
Because of Uğur’s passionate dedication to learning English, he has progressed from Level 1 to Level 3 in one academic year! We are proud of his accomplishments and wish him all the best.
who is mard little?
Mard Little was a KLC learner who overcame incredible obstacles in her literacy journey. She came to us at age 67 with a third grade education. Through her dedication and working with her tutor, Judy Kepler, Mard excelled. She advanced six reading levels and gained the confidence to complete her life’s goal of writing her memoir. Read her full biography here.
This award recognizes a learner who has persisted through adverse circumstances in their literacy journey. Their educational and personal gains demonstrate strength and motivation, and inspire others to keep striving for their goals.
Check out some fun photos of the Fall Reception from past years!