1. Ask the ed teacher to give you another copy. It's hardly imaginable that the copy on the USB stick is his only one.
2. If you can open the documents OK with Wordpad, isn't that enough to deal with them? What exactly, by the way, are you supposed to do with the documents?
3. Try it on another machine (unlikely to help, of course).
4. Are you sure it isn't a font problem? Characters in unknown fonts might be unreadable. What happens if you select all and change the font to Arial, for example?
It's far from sure that commercial repair software will help, of course. Better try the free demo mode first, if it has such.
And, remember, it's not your responsibility to manage his documents. If they are corrupted on his computer already it's his responsibility. All you can do: try repair software, without any guarantee of success.
I have been given the job of dealing with a Sandisk cruzer micro (512) that has office documents on it, which when opened have lots of garbled characters along with the text. This drive belongs to a special ed teacher, and the documents are confidential, and according to regulations are encrypted. I can open the documents ok with wordpad on my xp computer, while openoffice will not open them. Word from office 2003 would not open them either. I've tried a couple free utilities to fix office documents with no luck. The flash drive has a fat32 partition, and chkdsk shows no errors. A virus scan shows no problems. I'm not sure where to go next, besides commercial software for repair, which I hate to do. Any ideas? Thanks!