Sunday, August 21, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Fort Worth TX :: North SC :: Upshur Co WV :: Fon du Lac WI :: Ozaukee Co WI

Literacy Connexus worker honored as volunteer of the year
Baptist Standard: 7.26.2016 by Ken Camp

Pam Moore never expected statewide recognition for her work as a literacy ministry volunteer. Until a few years ago, she never gave literacy much thought.

Moore, a member of First Baptist Church in Copperas Cove, has volunteered more than five years with Literacy Connexus, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Texas Baptists’ Christian Life Commission. Literacy Connexus offers training and resources for English-as-a-Second-Language and literacy ministries. Moore—who edits Literacy Connexus newsletters, writes content for its website, submits grant applications on its behalf and provides technical support for its conferences—will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award from Literacy Texas at the statewide organization’s annual conference, Aug. 2 in San Marcos.

“Pam has endeared herself to volunteers by sharing timely information and encouraging stories to undergird our mission of helping churches help persons with literacy needs,” said Lester Meriwether, executive director of Literacy Connexus. “She is an invaluable team member and is very deserving of the recognition of Literacy Texas’ award.”  READ MORE @

'We give them wings':
The Challenge Center prepares residents for better jobs, quality of life
T&D: 7.29.2016 by Tad Mitchum

The Challenge Center for adult literacy, also known as the North Family Community School, has a long history of helping area adults improve the quality of their lives and job opportunities through education.

Founded in 1993 by Sandy Sigmon in honor of her father, the center has been in several different locations over the years. Its new headquarters is at 4589 Savannah Highway in North.

Currently, The Challenge Center and its staff are preparing for the 2016-2017 academic year. Visitors are greeted by decorative butterflies on the walls throughout the building that have special significance.

“We believe that, as teachers, we have two choices concerning our students. We can push them down with dogma or we can give them wings so they can soar to success,” Sigmon said, alluding to the symbolism of the butterflies. “We want them to soar.”

Sigmon said most of the services offered at the center are free, but added, "We do have some costs that must be covered."  READ MORE @

Upshur County resources address illiteracy
WDTV: 7.28.2016 by Renata Di Gregorio

Sometimes the first step to accomplishing something is asking for help and knowing you're not alone. The Upshur County Literacy Volunteers director says one in five adults in the county can't read above a fourth grade level. As the director searches for more tutors, 5 News dove into the situation to see how bad it is and what's being done about it.

Director Erin Richardson says the problem in the county is great and people are also great at avoiding it. She's seen her students get around illiteracy by talking into smartphones and having the phone write in text.

"The problem with that is that they can't fill out a job application," she said. "Because they can't read 'what is your name?'"

Applying for and being qualified for jobs is the end objective for the county's Adult Learning Center. But the first step in getting there is being able to read and write. The adult education resources in the county work separately, but also refer students to each other. However, one instructor says the hardest part for people is walking through the door.

"They realize that we're going to be able to offer them something to overcome that obstacle," said Tammy Shreve, Adult Education Instructor at the Adult Learning Center. "They begin to relax and they begin to understand that this is something that they can do."

Both Shreve and Richardson have personal stories to back up that it's doable and that it doesn't matter what got someone into the situation where they can't read or write. Richardson says they tutor people from sixteen years old to in their eighties. Recently one woman who started under a fourth grade reading level tested three grade levels higher by the end of the year.  VIDEO

Language skills: Fond du Lac Literacy Services honors long-term tutor, sets annual fundraisers
Fon du Lac Reporter: 7.31.2016 by Taima Kern

The average length of time that a volunteer tutors with the literacy program is 1.92 years. Marguerite Soffa is an outlier on that graph and was recently honored by Fond du Lac Literacy Services for her tenure of more than 30 years as a volunteer tutor with the organization.

Soffa, 91, tutored several people in her three decades, but she predominantly worked with a single tutee, Mary. Together the pair read books, worked on vocabulary, spelling, grammar and composition and completed workbooks provided by Fond du Lac Literacy Services.

“I found it rewarding,” Soffa said of the experience. Their favorite educational method was the reading of novels and books, and as such, Soffa was always on the lookout for good option to introduce Mary to.

“I remember one time we chose ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’” said Soffa. “I selected it because Scout (the main character) was telling the story, and Scout is a child, so the language wouldn’t be too difficult. But, of course, I was wrong,” Soffa said, laughing. “But it was a good experience for her, I think.”

Soffa worked with other tutees during her time with the organization, including one which she remembers was nearly impossible to teach.

“I asked the organizers if they could find me someone else, because I (was) not able to get through to her. Years later we passed on Merrill Avenue and she stopped me and said ‘Do you know why you couldn’t teach me? I was dyslexic.’”  READ MORE @

Nonprofit literacy program educates Ozaukee inmates on job readiness
Journal Sentinel: 7.31.2016 by Patrick Thomas

The classroom Patty Puccinelli teaches in is much different from the one she envisioned when she was earning her PhD in English from St. Louis University, where she also taught for 11 years.

Puccinelli no longer teaches college students. She took a break from teaching to become a full-time parent, moved to Milwaukee, and when her kids got older started looking for part-time work. She started teaching night classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College, and in 2013 heard about the Ozaukee County Jail Literacy Program.

"At first, I was a little hesitant. It was unnerving to have the doors slam with such force, but I really enjoy interacting with the students," said Puccinelli, who teaches a variety of classes to the inmates in the program.

"Many of the students did not experience much of any success in school, but in our program, because we can teach them individually based on their specific needs, they succeed."

Located in the jail itself, the small nonprofit literacy program aims to help inmates learn skills to get a job, improve their literacy and achieve their GED or HSED. It is the only private agency in Wisconsin that provides education at the jail level.

Since 1992, 297 students have graduated from the program with either a GED or HSED. More than 900 students have taken classes.  READ MORE @

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