Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Portsmouth VA :: Harrison Co WV :: South San Francisco CA

The ABCs of boosting adult literacy
Virginian Pilot: 10.06.2016 by Arleen Spenceley

At the Churchland Library last week, Billy Pugh picked up a black pen and began to write the alphabet.

“A,” he said, as he wrote on the top line of his notebook. Then he copied the letter B beside it.

For the first time, Pugh, 57, can write his ABCs with little help.

He’s had a tutor through the Portsmouth Reads Adult Literacy program, which provides free instruction to adults who can’t read or write.

Pugh used to be one of them. “After failing the first grade twice, they put me in special ed.”

Pugh, who lives in Portsmouth but grew up in Chesapeake, stayed in elementary school until he turned 13, he said. He dropped out of public school in 10th grade, opting to attend classes at a rehabilitation center that taught trades, he said. After that, he got a job, which he says he held for more than 20 years.

At work, he did what he could. “A lot of stapling,” he said. “Mine is what you call first-grade (reading) level. I can read something and five minutes later or less, I couldn’t really tell you what I read.”

He drives, but said he can’t read street signs, so he counts stoplights and looks for landmarks. “Like Wal-Mart. I know it when I see it.”

Pugh found out about the literacy program through a cousin he’s staying with. He tried other programs in the past, but said they didn’t work.

Portsmouth Reads provides literacy services to people of all ages. The organization inherited the adult program from the Tidewater Literacy Council, which provided tutoring for decades until it shut down in 2012, said Sue Burton, Portsmouth Reads chairwoman.  READ MORE @

Hartung has a passion for people and teaching them how to read
Exponent Telegram: 10.10.2016 by Victoria L. Cann

John Hartung has been volunteering with the Literacy Volunteers of Harrison County for the last 12 years, spending three days per week working with his students.

“I read an ad in the paper that said volunteers needed to teach reading, and I always said in the back of my head that was something I’d like to do when I retire,” he said. “I saw the ad in 2004, way before retiring, so I thought why not get started now.”

Volunteering is something Hartung said he wanted to do to be able to give back to the community, and his passion lies in teaching people how to read.

"Right now, I do it three days a week for a couple hours each day. I’m working with English as a Second Language, so it’s with a very interesting group of individuals with unique stories,” he said.

Not only does Hartung teach people how to read, he works with those trying to become assimilated in American culture and are desirous of becoming U.S. citizens.

“I have a woman who is from Colombia who is learning English and then I have a young woman from Ecuador who is ready to take the final step to become a U.S. citizen,” he said.

Hartung teaches people about American customs, idioms and mannerisms, and he loves when his students succeed.

“My favorite part is the look on people’s faces when they understand a concept or when I see that light bulb go off in their head and they get it,” he said. “That’s just a thrill.”

Kim Payne, director of the Literacy Volunteers of Harrison County, has known Hartung for about eight years. She said he has participated in all the programs that Literacy Volunteers has to offer.  READ MORE @

South San Francisco Only City in Bay Area Chosen to Offer Spanish Literacy Program
New Pilot Program Will Create Best Practices to Assist Libraries Across the State
South San Francisco Patch: 10.14.2016 by Renee Schiavone

The South San Francisco Public Library was selected as one of twenty libraries across California to join a pilot program - Leamos @ the Library. Leamos, translated as Let's Read @ The Library, is a literacy program aimed at helping native Spanish speakers improve their reading and writing in Spanish.

"When native Spanish speakers are taking English classes, they encounter difficulty when their primary language skills are minimal," said Marta Bookbinder, South San Francisco Literary Services Coordinator.

"By offering this program to our residents, it will increase their native language literacy, which will reduce the difficulty of learning English in the long run."

The pilot program is supported by a grant awarded by the James Irvine Foundation to Centro Latino to explore partnerships with public libraries. "In a state which gained a Latino plurality [in 2014], it seems at a minimum good common sense to encourage programs like Leamos," said Greg Lucas, California State Librarian. "Without literacy skills in their native language, proficiency in English becomes significantly harder, if not impossible, to attain."  READ MORE @

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