I don’t remember learning how to read. My parents read to me from the time I was born, and somehow it just became a part of me. Words, word games, books are as important to me as breathing.
As Joe and I had our children, we too read to them from the time they were born, and they absorbed it as well.
I loved my time working as receptionist at the Brunner Literacy Center, for every day I could watch others share the joy of words and reading. It is amazing to see people who might have been looked down on in school, realize that they can learn, and see faces light up with smiles as they actually begin to read.
The love and patience of the tutors leads person after person to achieve the goals that brought the students to the Literacy Center. Learning to read, improving reading levels, getting a GED, learning to speak English, learning the vocabulary and math skills needed to get into nursing or other programs – you never know what needs the next person to come through the door will have. But we do know that whatever the need, just the right tutor will show up to volunteer their time and meet that need.
While the tutors are volunteers, books and other supplies need to be paid for, and this is one way that those of us who aren’t able to tutor can help. Many generous donors have greatly helped the Literacy Center since it opened. Joe and I are both retired now and on a fixed income, but when we heard about the Literacy Leaders program, we were glad to join in. We can’t give a lot, but having it set up as an automatic payment each month means we don’t have to think about it, and each month we are doing something so more faces can smile.
Whether you can afford to give a little or a lot each month, please consider joining us as Literacy Leaders, and helping us spread the smiles!
On October 10th, the Brunner Literacy Center hosted "Tech-Tac-Toe" for our students, tutors, and friends. The event was aimed at helping beginning or reluctant technology users learn to do more online.
About 25 attendees got tips on email, accessing the internet, online health information, library resources, and useful apps and websites for learning and for everyday life.
Our tutors and students were most excited to learn about these free, online learning resources:
Many thanks to CareSource, the Dayton Metro Library, AT&T, and Montgomery County Workforce Development (Ohio Means Jobs) for participating in our event!
I am not a wisdom figure, except to fifth graders. Most of the members of my religious community are older than I. At 72, I imagine I am considered a youngish whippersnapper. When there aren’t enough chairs, I’m still the one who sits on the floor. I don’t presume to know what you should know. But I know some things now that I wish I had known a lot sooner.
Bad times don’t last. Things get better.
Good times don’t last. Enjoy now.
Nobody is judging you; most of the time, no one knows or cares what you are doing.
A smile goes a long way. Laughter goes even further.
Try things. It’s okay to fail. It’s not okay to wonder whether you would have been good or enjoyed at the things you were afraid to try.
Most of the people you will meet are nice people. Everyone has value. Everyone is a possible saint, until proven otherwise. (Maybe not even then.)
If you try your very best to please people, some people will like you and some people won’t. If you throw caution to the winds and live your life, some people will like you and some people won’t.
Likewise, I read somewhere that if a person likes you, you can drop a plate of spaghetti into his/her lap and the accident will be laughed off. If the person doesn’t like you, he/she will be annoyed by the way you hold your fork. I notice this in myself, and am reminded that the dislike I have for another person says a lot about myself.
Solve the problem. Don’t complain; solve the problem. (Did you ever notice that gripers are almost always sitting down?) Hot air is useful only in the balloon business.
You can learn something from everyone. I am reminded of that every time I come to the Brunner Literacy Center. We tutors can focus on the difficulties and on what we can teach. Sometimes, the most important thing is what we can learn.
Last week the Brunner Literacy Leaders visited the tutoring program at the Montgomery County Courts’ Day Reporting Center. This program, which launched just over a year ago, has already helped 150 young adults improve their literacy, with a particular focus on earning their GED, while on probation or completing correctional programs.
After a quick tour, our group was delighted to get to speak with both tutors and students. We had expected to see tutors and students working hard, and we did. We were impressed with their diligence. What we perhaps did not expect was the happiness and hope that radiated from the students.
We spoke with Chris, who had attempted his GED once before, but was unsuccessful. He now knows that he learns best from another person, not an online group environment. Chris is scheduled to be released soon, but is determined to continue with his tutor until he earns his GED.
We spoke with a student who is working on her reading and writing skills. Since she began working with her tutor, she has ‘found her voice’ and just might compose an essay about her life and educational experience for us to share on this blog.
And we spoke with ‘Pink’ who has passed all parts of the GED exam except math. After years of thinking that she just couldn’t do math, her work with the BLC tutoring program has changed her mind. She told us confidently that now that she knows how she learns best, she just needs to keep at it and eventually she will know enough to earn her GED qualification, just as twenty-two of her fellow residents have done.
We heard that when a student in the correctional tutoring program earns their GED, word spreads through the entire facility and other residents ask for the chance to join the program. We heard that giving residents something important to focus on while serving their sentences helps them see a better future for themselves.
Confidence. Happiness. Hope. This is what we found at the Day Reporting Center. And there was one other surprise. Art. As you’ll see in the photos, several of these students are talented artists. Everyone has something to offer. We are so grateful to our dedicated tutors for helping these students realize their potential.
Brunner Literacy Leaders are a special group of donors that pledge a monthly contribution to help eradicate adult illiteracy in the Dayton area. Learn more about the Literacy Leaders program at www.brunnerliteracy.org/leader.
STAFF NOTE: Although many of our tutors are former teachers, great tutors come from a variety of backgrounds. Our tutor Brad currently works for one of the largest companies in Dayton. He volunteers one morning per month tutoring residents of the Montgomery County Court’s Secure Transitional Offender Program (STOP) as they prepare for the High School Equivalency Exam. Offenders who improve their literacy while serving their sentence are better prepared for a life free of drugs and crime upon their release.
The first day I showed up to tutor at the STOP program felt like my first day of 9th grade. I was full of nervous excitement due to the fact that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. However, after working with the staff, other volunteers and residents of STOP, I knew I would enjoy this opportunity. Helping the residents of STOP study for their GED has been a very rewarding experience and I am learning a lot at the same time. Recently, I tutored a resident that had failed the GED test the first time in large part to the Quadratic Equation. Our tutoring time was spent working on this concept and I had no clue how to do it for the first 30 minutes. However, the two of us worked on it together for the remaining hour and a half, both coming to a better understanding of the Quadratic Formula.
I left that day thinking about how rewarding it was to learn this concept while also helping someone else learn it. Even more rewarding was the email I received two days later when the Brunner staff told me that this resident passed their GED! That email is one of the best I have ever received. I only volunteer 2 hours a month and wasn’t sure how much I could do in those two hours to help the residents but after hearing about the successful attainment of a GED, I realized that it didn’t matter how much time you volunteered, but what you did with that time.