WHEN Nellie Garthwaite started her career in adult literacy 24 years ago, she never expected it would take her on the journey it has.
The Invercargill-based Literacy Aotearoa Charitable Trust manager will retire at the end of June after more than two decades of supporting adult literacy education in Southland.
From one-on-one tutoring to introducing several group programmes, she was a vital part of expanding the organisation’s reach.
“When I first came here, it was a small organisation where tutors met with students at their homes and it was all volunteer-based.”
Almost 15 years later, adult literacy was being taught across the Southland-Otago region.
“The programme has really grown and there’s always been a new challenge, which I’ve enjoyed.”
Literacy Aotearoa taught literacy and digital skills to a range of adults, from those who had been out of the workforce for several years to people who never finished school and needed further qualifications to get jobs, she said.
Mrs Garthwaite said when she first started in the role, all she knew how to do was turn on a computer and type.
“A lot of it was self-taught in the beginning. As the organisation has developed, I’ve developed.”
One of the biggest highlights in her career was being able to buy a company car with the help of Community Trust South in 2009, she said.
Having the car meant tutors were able to reach more students, from Invercargill to Queenstown.
For Mrs Garthwaite, the people and the “feel-good stories” were what kept her in the role, she said.
“A lot of our adults have gone on to do great things. Some of them couldn’t read or write and have now gone on to work and lead successful lives.”
Although she was looking forward to some well-deserved time out, it had been “a great ride”, she said.