I stood in front of the class, several pairs of eyes were looking up at me with...... what I wondered: hope, fear, embarrassment, eagerness? A few other heads were bowed, eyes fixed on the table. “Good evening everyone, I’m Paula Montie and I’m your tutor for this course.” It was September 1982 and I was teaching my first class of adult literacy. I was taking this class to help support me financially as I had just returned to college to do my teachers’ training.

The two hours flew by and by the end of it, the students seemed very happy, people were chatting openly, there was lots of laughter, they all said they had learnt a lot and were looking forward to the next class. I went to my car, put my head in my hands and wept - with anger, mainly and also incomprehension. How could it be that these bright, articulate, eager to learn people who had spent at least ten years in the education system had not leant how to read and write?

This question haunted me throughout my teaching career and I was always eager to try out new ideas and approaches, some of which had some success with some students.

Retirement has given me the opportunity to spend more time researching and developing my skills in this area. By happy coincidence, soon after I retired, I met Olive Hickmott from Empowering Learning and her work filled in the missing gaps in my knowledge and experience.

Now, I take referrals from the Dyslexia Research Trust, see private clients and run training courses for teachers and teaching assistants. I make sure I still have time for my husband and our little rescue dog, Rusty, our family and friends and for travelling and theatre trips - another of my life-long passions.