Usually, you’ll find Luther Houle in the Writing Center sipping tea out of his favorite mug, a coffee cup with a zen-happy pig on the front. He received it last year as a new tutor award. Luther’s a low-key, happy guy and students love him. He’s kind, patient, and nurturing. It’s not uncommon to hear him ask if someone needs a cup of tea. He adds, “I like to drink tea, and I like to offer it to help others feel more comfortable. Puts them at ease.” This represents Luther’s style well. He’s the kind of tutor that wants people to see that the writing center is a safe, friendly environment to share one’s writing and just spend time.
“One of my most memorable moments was my first time in the Writing Center. Jordan, a former tutor, asked me if I wanted to stop by the writing center with him. He showed me around. It was really cool because he made it feel like a comfortable place to be. For someone like me, the University doesn’t always have a lot of comfortable places to sit, relax, and feel at home, but I definitely feel at home in the Writing Center. Heck, there are even skeletons! Grimm and Lefty which I love. I like Lefty better, but don’t tell Grimm” he snickers. Luther was also the voice of Lefty for a Halloween video we did this semester.
I asked Luther what he’s gained during his time as tutor. He said, “Well, I realized the writing center is a place for all writers, those who might be struggling and those that are doing great and getting A’s. The Writing Center is about becoming a better writer, regardless of where one is in their writing.” I asked him how the Writing Center does that.
“Listening. The first piece of advice I would give any new tutor is to be comfortable with silence. Sometimes, students/writers just need time to think. Slow down. Don’t say something unless you think it’ll really help the student think about their own writing.”
What about writers? “Well, I’d like them to know it’s a great place to hang out, get feedback on their work, and feel comfortable working out ideas. Sometimes the best place to start is with the assignment sheet. It helps you figure out where you’re going and identify questions you might have. I’m happy to listen to someone vent about their frustrations, but it’s even better when I can help someone find the right questions to ask of themselves or their instructor.”
“I love being a tutor and even though I’ve graduated and I’m joining the Peace Corps to teach English, I wouldn’t have had the confidence or courage to do it if I hadn’t been a tutor. I got into tutoring after I took a business communication class. The instructor, who I later found out was the director of the Writing Center, said, ‘I think you might be a good fit as a tutor,’ so I took the class. I’ve gained so much from my time there. I’ve gained the tools I need to be able to take a leap like joining the Peace Corps. I always wanted to leave home and try something new, but being a tutor has really given me the courage to do that. I also realized I’m really good at this and it’s something I want to do. Being a tutor has illuminated my own interests to me!
I always looked forward to the days when I got to go to the writing center and tutor. It’s the only job that I wish I could keep, but I look forward to opportunities to do more of it in the future.”
Luther Houle has not only been a writing tutor, but also a writer and reporter for East Village Magazine. He graduated last April 2019 with an English degree and a specialization in writing. Last fall was his last semester at the university as his adventure takes a new twist. He’s joining the Peace Corp and going to Nepal to teach English to 5th-8th grade students. We are all going to miss Luther as he moves on to his new adventures, but we are so proud and excited for him, too. Whether as a tutor, friend, or voice of Lefty, Luther has definitely animated so much of our center.