June 5, 2007
To Whom It May Concern,
It is my pleasure to recommend Mr. John Vogel as a substitute teacher. I have known Mr. Vogel as a tutor/teacher for almost two years. I co-ordinate the educational volunteer services at Helping Up Mission, where he tutors and teachers. Mr. Vogel has many outstanding qualities as a teacher, and I would like to highlight three of them, which are particularly relevant to substitute teaching.
First, Mr. Vogel has a gift for being able to command respect in a classroom, create a no-nonsense learning environment, and still be gentle, patient, and encouraging. This, as you can appreciate, is a delicate balance under any circumstances for any person, yet it is particularly important with challenging students. The men he teaches in GED math class at Helping Up Mission often have a history of academic failure, school expulsion, drug addiction, and incarceration. This is not an easy group for which to create a learning environment. Yet, within days of being in Mr. Vogel's class, the men know him as someone who cannot be 'played.' Students what Mr. Vogel expects of them, and, consequently, they show up on time, do their homework, and work hard. They appreciate his structure as well as the enormous amount of positive reinforcement he provides for a job well done. As one young man said who dropped out of school in the eighth grade, "Mr. Vogel gives us hope."
Secondly, Mr. Vogel is reliable, reliable, reliable. You can count on him to work extremely hard to be the best teacher he can be. He does what he says he will do and shows up when he says he will show up. Even as an unpaid volunteer, Mr. Vogel not only shows up on time but puts countless outside-the-classroom hours into preparing lessons, communicating students' progress, and troubleshooting additional ways that students can be helped in their learning process. He keeps notes on what individual students need to work on and makes sure that instruction happens. He will not let a student fall through the cracks. Yet, his attention to detail does not stop there. Shortly after Mr. Vogel began teaching GED math class, I noticed that he was creating his own worksheets (which he eventually turned into a math workbook). When I mentioned that there were worksheets available, his reply was that he was doing it for his own process of learning as well as the men's learning. This is just one example of John's willingness to work long and hard to achieve internal mastery of the material he teaches. Needless to say, he will make sure he knows exactly what he needs to teach as a substitute teacher.
Thirdly, Mr. Vogel is an excellent communicator to the other people who are involved in the educational experience of the students. This is invaluable for it keeps all of us setting the same learning goals and using the same methods of instruction. He regularly emails other tutors and provides guidance regarding what an individual student appears to be struggling with. He also communicates with the administrative staff as needed. Because John is clear, nonjudgmental, and direct in his communication style, I can trust that he will tell me exactly what he is thinking, and that he always has the best interest of the students at heart. It is a joy to work with someone of his integrity. This will be an asset to any teacher who needs to be kept in the loop about what happened on substitute teacher days.
In summary, Mr. Vogel is interpersonally strong, academically competent, and highly reliable. Any institution will count itself lucky to have Mr. Vogel as a member of the team. He is a team player, who is honest and clear in his communication style and, hence, trustworthy. He has the best interest of the students at heart and can inspire even mediocre students to accomplish more than the student believed was possible. In the time he has been serving Helping Up Mission, he has personally mentored nearly 20 men into GED success. This is the highest achievement rate we have had. May you, as I do, enjoy the good fortune of working with him.
Jeanette Ezzo, MPH, PhD
Volunteer Services Co-ordinator
Helping Up Mission