JCCC Stories

An’s Story — Experiencing both sides

May 1, 2017


An Lane has experienced the Johnson County Adult Education (JCAE) program from two distinct vantage points: first as a student, and later as a volunteer tutor.

It’s October, 1987 –– An Lane is making pivotal decisions that will impact her life and her future family  even though she is still a teenagerShe is pregnant with her first child and didn’t want to be another statistic: a teen-aged mother without an education. I wanted to be a better parent – one who could provide and contribute to my family’s finance and, at the same time, have some self-worth,” Lane said.  

Now, nearly 30 years later, Lane can still recall how kind and helpful her JCAE instructor was at their first meeting. After being away from a formal classroom for three years, she was understandably scared to re-enter education.  

JCAE was a springboard for Lane. After she completed her GED® studies and passed the exam, she felt proud, but, at the same time, a little ashamed – she wanted more education. So she came back to JCCC for post-secondary classes. 

At the time, Lane struggled. She juggled a job, a new baby and college classes. I was completely overwhelmed and quite dumbfounded at my new responsibilities,” she said. “But JCCC made it possible!” 

Degrees, careers and future careers

Since that timeLane has completed a bachelor’s degree in General Studies, an MBA in General Management and recently received a letter of acceptance into JCCC’s selective admission nursing program next fall.  

Lane currently is a Program Coordinator at Samsung in Leawood. She and her “cheerleader” husband of 30 years live in Mission. “Without him, I would not have been able to accomplish my education and employment goals thus far,” she said. The couple has three grown children and their youngest is also a JCCC student. 

Paying it forward

Lane sees how her early experiences gave her the heart of a volunteer. She participates in JCAE, supports her childrens school activities and PTAs, and gives time to local groups that include the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Harvesters, Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofit entities.  

The reason why I volunteer — and I made this statement at the JCAE Orientation to Literacy Volunteering class — is to make friendsI don’t feel I am any better than anyone else,” she said. “More often than not, I am the one who goes away with a sense of understanding and appreciation of how or why someone is struggling or coping.”  

Lane believes it’s her responsibility to help others by expressing how much individuals are valued and how much more they contribute to the greater good by merely showing up and completing their commitment. 

It’s my job to help them feel more at ease so that they can accomplish their goals,” she said. 

You don’t have to be a genius, just generous

Being on the other side of the tutoring table has given Lane practice in patience, tolerance and empathy while she learns from her students about their cultural backgrounds and learning styles. She believes all JCAE volunteers have to have one critical component in their arsenal of educational tools – caring spirit.  

 You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a mathematician, you just have to take time to show you care … You have to contribute and you have to smile,” Lane said. The students in these programs don’t expect volunteers to be perfect, just caring human beings. 

“[Being a volunteer] has taught me that acceptance is very important: acceptance of abilities and limitations – whether it is the student’s or my own; acceptance of differences and similarities – whether it is learning styles or cultural backgrounds; and acceptance of human respect and shared courtesies,” she said. 

Become a volunteer or instructor

If you're inspired by An’s story and are interested in becoming a literacy volunteer, a GED® instructor or English as a Second Language tutor in the JCAE program, contact the JCAE office at JCCC at 913-469-7621 or sign up to attend a free orientation session.