Sunday, November 2, 2014

Literacy: Spanning the U.S. - Watsonville CA :: Des Moines IA :: Albuquerque NM

Literacy:  Spanning the U.S.

Watsonville literacy program breeds success
Volunteers have helped hundreds learn to read and write in English
Santa Cruz Sentinel: 9.29.2014 by Donna Jones

Learning to read in English helped Ramona Escamilla connect with her son's teacher, get a better job and, once, even talk a police officer out of giving her husband a ticket.

"My life changed," said Escamilla, who emigrated to the United States from Michoacan, Mexico 15 years ago in search of opportunity.

"That's what we do here, give a little bit to help change some lives," said Sandy DeBoer, a volunteer tutor with Watsonville Public Library's Opportunity to Read. "It has a ripple effect on the family and the community."

The literacy program, which started with seven students in a temporary building behind the old adult school on Rodriguez Street, is celebrating its 15th anniversary. An estimated 1,000 students have taken advantage of the program.

Many have been immigrants with little or no skills in reading and writing. Others, like Escamilla, knew how to read in their native Spanish, but, after learning to speak basic English, wanted to know more.

Monday, Escamilla and DeBoer sat at a table in the Watsonville Literacy Center, talking about their work together.

"It's a partnership," DeBoer said, explaining there's not a set program and that tutors don't teach. Instead, they focus on what students say they need to know, and figure out ways for them to learn it.

Escamilla said learning to read enhanced her speaking skills. She recalled the first time she met with her son's teacher and didn't have to ask him to interpret.

"My son looked at me and said, 'You are very, very good,' and I felt very excited," Escamilla said.  READ MORE !

Adult Literacy Center at Drake University Gives People a Second Shot
WHOTV: 10.18.2014 by Reid Chandler

Life may have started a long time ago for these students, but they’re only just beginning to learn a crucial skill.

“(I) go to the doctor, can’t fill out the forms and stuff,” said Jerry Schillinger, a student at Drake University’s Adult Literacy Center. “Different things…even just going out to eat. I could hardly read the menu, so I always just went to fast food joints.”

Schillinger is one of about 80 adults in Polk County learning how to read and write.

“I kept it a secret for quite awhile, until I came here and I learned to start talking more about it,” he said.

Schillinger has been coming to the center for the past 10 years; according to him, he’s come a long way in that time.

“I couldn’t read a three-letter word when I came,” he said.

Anne Murr, the director of the center, trains volunteers to teach students like Schillinger.

“One-in-six adults have low literacy skills,” she said. “In other words, they can’t do the reading and writing to just basically function in their daily life.”

Murr says the need for tutors is growing as the center becomes more involved in the community.

“Lots of people fail to read and write in school because they just didn’t respond to instruction they were being given,” she said. “And it’s not that they weren’t trying – they just didn’t get it.

But studies show it’s a lot easier to learn these skills during childhood, through the age of 10. For someone in their mid-forties, it’s a challenge far greater than simply crossing your t’s and dotting your i’sREAD MORE !

ReadWest in need of funding, volunteers
Albuquerque Journal: 10.25.2014 by Mike and Genie Ryan

Imagine what it would be like trying to succeed in society if you were unable to read or unable to read well enough to understand the words in front of you.

It’s difficult to visualize the struggles such people must encounter attempting to hold – or even get – a job, trying to pay bills or to understand directions. Imagine what it would be like raising children if you can’t read what it says on a medicine bottle or understand written instructions or help them learn how to read. That would be a prescription for frustration and generations of illiteracy.

Learning about such struggles for too many of our friends and neighbors and their battles with literacy is what prompted the creation of ReadWest Inc. in 1989.

Now, celebrating 25 years, ReadWest’s success and contributions to the people of Rio Rancho and Albuquerque’s West Side is phenomenal.

Continuing its goal of 25 years, ReadWest provides literacy help by offering one-to-one tutoring by trained volunteers who adhere strictly to student-identified goals. ReadWest charges nothing for its services, so the people who need help and want to make a better life for themselves can do it without worrying about the cost.

Currently ReadWest has 261 volunteer tutors helping more than 400 students. Last year alone, volunteers logged more than 9,000 hours of tutoring.

Using statistics that state an hour of a volunteer’s time is worth $22.14, ReadWest’s volunteers have given $211,609 worth of free literacy training to people in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque. And that’s just one year. The value of 25 years of literacy tutoring really must add up.  READ MORE !

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