Sunday, February 7, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US: Dane Co WI :: Sussex Co NJ :: Tulare Co CA :: Jacksonville FL :: Stanislaus Co CA

Q&A: Jeff Burkhart works to boost literacy in Dane County
Capital Times:  1.10.2016 by Ogechi Emechebe

Imagine not being able to read a letter from your child’s teacher, fill out a job application, or follow instructions on a prescription medicine bottle.

For one in seven adults in Dane County, these essential skills are a daily struggle because of low literacy. At the Literacy Network of Dane County, tutors are dedicated to helping adults improve their reading, writing and comprehension skills. All of the programs are free.

Jeff Burkhart, executive director of the Literacy Network, has led the organization for seven years. He sat down with the Cap Times to discuss what the group is doing to help adults learn the skills needed to live a more enriching life.

What are some of your duties as the executive director?
I provide the direction for the organization. So I build partnerships with other community organizations and businesses, make sure our programs are running well and looking for strategic alignments to meet the needs of adults and families throughout our community. I’m happy to say our programs are in great shape and things are going super well because we have great staff.

What sparked your passion to help those in Dane County become more efficient in reading and writing?
Right when I graduated college, I volunteered at a literacy organization and I just found that it made such a huge impact in the life of my learner. I had a student named DeJuan and he had three kids and two jobs. He struggled to find to find the time to meet, but I could see it was really making a big difference for him in his life. And it was also making a difference for his kids.

Can you describe some of the struggles you’ve seen among the students?
One of the first struggles we’ve seen before you even talk about literacy is people’s lives are sometimes really unstable. They may struggle with homelessness, joblessness or substance abuse. All those things are related to literacy but you don’t necessarily see the direct correlation between the two until you dig down into it. So an individual who in their grade schools may not have been assessed for a learning disability but just passed on through, that’s the typical profile for an adult basic education learner with us.

Some folks are reading at a second or third grade level and they really struggle and feel incredibly discouraged. But they come to us at a point in their lives where they’re ready to try it again and we take that very seriously. Progress is slow, but we’re making progress and you see the confidence increase dramatically with our learners. We meet people who have had ongoing literacy issues but once they come to us for help, some go on to get the first job they’ve had in 20 years.  READ MORE @

"Literacy Changes Lives"

A young man struggles at his job because of his poor reading and writing skills. How can he ever move up within the company if he can't understand the manuals and fill out reports for his boss? A couple moves into Sussex County with their two small children. The father is lucky to find low-paying work right away, but no one in the family understands much English. They are eager to become citizens of the United States, but must learn more of the language first.

Where can these people go for help? Sussex County Programs of Literacy New Jersey is just the place. This non-profit organization (formerly Literacy Volunteers of Sussex County) provides one-on-one, student-oriented tutoring to adults in need of English (reading, writing and comprehension) and math skills. Students can be either basic literacy or English as a Second Language individuals. All tutoring is free and confidential. Small group instruction is also offered as conversation groups, with topics such as health or financial themes.

Literacy New Jersey -- Sussex County Programs recruits and trains adults who wish to become volunteers.

"These volunteers are the backbone of our organization. They spend approximately two hours each week with a student and then additional time to plan each lesson." said Community Board President Carol Wilson. "Because each student is unique, each lesson is unique, structured to the individual student's goals, regardless of their ability. The satisfaction of helping an adult and seeing positive results is a great feeling and a reward for both participants."  READ MORE @


Retired firefighter tutoring adults
Visalia Times Delta: 1.25.2016 by Juan Villa

Julia Honer has always tried to encourage people to read, not only to actually work on their reading skills but to enlighten themselves.

The Visalia-resident and retired firefighter is a believer that when you read to children it sets a tone for the rest of their lives.

But not all children have an elementary school teacher like Honer did. A teacher who would constantly read to her class after lunch. That, Honer said, had a significant impact on her reading and life.



“You don’t have to be a teacher to be able to do this,” said Williams. “You just need to be able to read at a high school level so you can help your student get to that level too.”  READ MORE @

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