12/29/10 — Literacy Connections offering individual tutoring to struggling adults

View Archive

Literacy Connections offering individual tutoring to struggling adults

By From staff reports
Published in News on December 29, 2010 1:46 PM

Literacy Connections of Wayne County teaches adults basic reading, writing and English language skills through individual tutoring offered by trained volunteers.

The adult learners range in ability from pre-readers to below the eighth-grade level. At Literacy Connections educational practices are grounded in the understanding that every student comes to the program with different reading skills, different personal goals and different learning styles, said Donna Philips, reading tutor and assistant director of the Wayne County Public Library.

Tutoring is free and confidential.

"It is important to note that the work Literacy Connections does is not a duplication of the literacy services provided by Wayne Community College," she said. "The adult learners served by Literacy Connections primarily differ from those served at WCC in that they are reading below an eighth-grade level and benefit greatly by one-on-one instruction, as opposed to a lab or classroom setting."

The program helps adults gain self-confidence and develop self-sufficiency skills that enable them to succeed as individuals, parents, employees, and citizens, she said.

According to the 2,000 Census, Wayne County's population of adults age 18 and older is 83,647. Of this number 6,603 have less than a 9th grade education and 13,013 have 9-12 years of school, but no diploma.

In other words, 23 percent of the adults in the county are challenged to succeed because they have less than a high school diploma, she said.

Ms. Phillips said that adults need strong literacy skills to:

*raise children who have strong literacy skills. The single most influential factor in predicting a child's literacy success is their mother's educational level.

*be good employees -- 80 percent of the fastest-growing jobs in the U.S. require some post-secondary education.

*keep themselves healthy. Studies indicate that health care costs for adults with low-literacy skills are four times higher than the national average. Research demonstrates that low literacy is linked to poor health and early death.

*advocate for themselves. "At Literacy Connections we believe that reading, writing, and language skills are a basic human right," she said.

* be responsible citizens. Adults who read are more likely to be informed and participate in the political process. Parents who participate in adult literacy programs participate in school activities and support their children's school achievement.

What is it like to be a non-reader?

*You can't fill out a job application.

*You shop for groceries by looking at the pictures on packages.

*In restaurants you choose what everyone else is having.

*You can't read the instructions on a medicine bottle but are too embarrassed to tell the pharmacist. You run the risk of over medicating your child.

*You can't read a map or a road sign.

*You can't help your child with homework and you won't admit to the teacher that you can't read the notes she sends home.

*You feel like a failure. You hide your inability to read.

"The adult learner I work with, like many of the adult learners at Literacy Connections, has gone through life feeling like an outsider, a misfit who lives in a world where everyone else seems to understand something he does not," Ms. Phillip said. "He carries the secret, his inability to read, around with him wherever he goes. It doesn't matter if he is at the doctor's office, the grocery store, the work place, or family gatherings -- everywhere he goes the secret follows him making him feel like he doesn't belong.

"He tells me that this existence, hiding the secret, is an exhausting one. His inability to read does not define him, though. He is a caring husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He enjoys building things with his hands, sharing a good laugh and lending a hand to help others in need. Above all he is courageous and I am inspired by his determination."

About Literacy Connections

*In 2009 the Chamber of Commerce's Community Development Committee began conversations about forming a literacy council.

*Discussions began because a Community Needs Assessment, completed by United Way, had identified Adult Literacy as a need.

*Later the Literacy Connections Committee, a sub-committee of the Chamber's Education Council, was formed and became the advisory board. Representatives include individuals from the following organizations: Wayne County Public Library, Wayne Community College, Wayne County Public Schools, Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency, Employment Security Commission, the Sea Brook Collection, Franklin Baking and Wayne Montessori School.

*Until becoming an independent 501-c3 organization, Literacy Connections is operating under the Wayne Charitable Partnership, the Chamber's parent organization.

*Initial funding came from United Way, Wayne County, and a Compassion Capital Fund Grant

*A half-time director, Adrienne Strickland was hired March 1. Ms. Strickland's position became full-time in August. Her office is temporarily located at the Wayne County Public Library, 1001 E. Ash St., Goldsboro.

*Literacy Connections has been invited to work as a partner organization with JobLinks and will move into the new Employment Security Commission Office after the first of the year.

*Literacy Connections began serving its first adult learners towards the end of September.

*Currently serving 11 adult learners, four more learners are in the process of being matched with tutors and are scheduled to begin instruction after the first of the year, and another three adult learners will begin the application process after the holidays.