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.
If you are like me, it may seem like the past school year just ended. However the ads in the newspaper and on television indicate that the start of a new academic year is just a matter of days or weeks away.
Here are some ideas for you to consider as you make plans for that all-important first day:
After school activities, sponsored by the school or other organizations, require careful planning as well. Sometimes children can be involved in too many activities. As a parent, you have the best understanding of what is “too much” for your child. I remember an eighth-grade student bemoaning that he never had time just “to be” because it seemed like every minute was filled with activity. This young man just wanted some time when he didn’t have “to do” anything. As adults we often feel that same way, don’t we? It is so important that you and your child plan for time just “to be.”
Parents, you are an essential member of your child’s educational team….home and school working together make all the difference in the world!
Two weeks ago, I went to the movies with some friends. As a working mom of two preschoolers, I don’t get out much. I was excited - giddy, actually – to go out with the girls. We were headed to The Neon, a quirky, local, independent theater. It’s a Dayton institution and I had never been before. My excitement felt inappropriate, though, because the show we were about to see was a documentary about the heroin epidemic, filmed right here in Dayton.
My coworkers and I had been invited by CareSource to a screening of America Divided: The Epidemic. The show was followed by a group discussion about the opiate crisis that has resulted in thousands of overdoses and more unintentional drug-related deaths here than anywhere else in the country. If you live in Dayton, you know what I’m talking about. If you are reading this from elsewhere, know this: There is no more space in the morgues. There is not enough Narcan. We are no longer shocked when we see images of unconscious parents in cars, their children wide awake, strapped into car seats in the back. Very bad things are happening in our great little Midwest city.
Although America Divided: The Epidemic was well-done, it was hard to watch. It was exciting to see Dayton landmarks on the big screen. It was horrible to see the real footage of overdoses happening in the streets surrounding those familiar places. The film, hosted by actor Peter Sarsgaard, whose cousin struggles with addiction, explored several causes of the crisis – unethical marketing and over-prescription of painkillers, decline of the middle class due to factory closures, cartels. There is no easy solution to a problem with such myriad causes and though the discussion afterwards was difficult, it was also inspiring to be in a room full of people committed to finding solutions and providing help to those affected. Dayton’s drug epidemic sometimes feels insurmountable, but there are small things we all can do to help combat this crisis.
Here are three ideas that made a big impact on me:
After the film, as my coworkers and I headed to our cars, we heard sirens and had to wait for an ambulance to pass before we could cross the street. “There goes another one,” my coworker said.
Thank You, CareSource, for the opportunity to see and discuss this important film. America Divided is available on Hulu, Epix, and Amazon Prime. Filmed in the lead-up to the 2016 election, each episode examines a current issue in the context of inequality. It was produced by Shonda Rimes, Common and Norman Lear and features familiar Hollywood faces including Zack Galifianakis, America Ferrera, Jesse Williams, and Amy Poehler, each of whom has a personal connection to the topic they investigate. Watch it. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
Adult Basic Education (ABE)
Adults with Other Needs (AON)
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
General Equivalency Diploma (GED®)
License Preparation (LP)