January is a time when many of us pause to reflect on the year that has passed and consider our future for the year to come. It is traditionally a time of hope and optimism, as we look to improve our lives and resolve to make positive changes. I think most of us would agree that 2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges. For many, just getting through it was a victory. As we are grappling with so many events we are powerless to change, it is worth considering what we can do in 2021 to make our lives, and our neighbors’ lives, a little better.
At the Cape Fear Literacy Council, January is usually a busy time. We see an influx of adult learners who have resolved to empower themselves and improve their lives through education. They may be trying to get their GED or pass the Citizenship test; they may be trying to find a job or get a promotion; they may need literacy or language skills to read to their children, communicate with teachers or co-workers, or fill out healthcare applications. Whatever the motivation, CFLC tries to meet students where they are academically and provide a personalized education plan to help them achieve their goals. To do this, we rely on trained volunteers to work one-on-one or in small classes to teach students literacy, English language, math, computer, and/or test-taking skills.
The Literacy Council has always been incredibly fortunate to find passionate, dedicated members of our community who are willing to share their knowledge with our students. The Adult Literacy and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs provide Tutor Training Workshops on a regular basis to help interested community members become ProLiteracy certified tutors. You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma, but no teaching experience or foreign language proficiency is required – just patience, persistence, and a desire to help!
Like everything else this year, the way we run our Workshops had to change due to the pandemic. We are currently offering Tutor Training via Zoom; both Adult Literacy and ESL offer a 4-day Workshop with a total of 6 hours of virtual meetings and an additional 3 hours of independent study to prepare prospective tutors to work with our adult learners. Since everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to safety issues and technology, volunteers can choose whether they prefer to teach online or work face-to-face with an individual student. Most one-on-one tutors teach 1.5 - 3 hours per week, and we ask for a 6-month commitment from our volunteers. Class sessions are currently taught exclusively online in 8-week blocks. Again, volunteers usually teach up to 3 hours per week. The Literacy Council provides ongoing support, curricula, and skill books to all tutors and students free of charge. If you are interested in signing up for one of our Training Workshops, please call 910-251-0911 or email [email protected] for schedules or more information.
Teaching a student literacy or language skills is no easy task; it requires time and commitment, but it can be incredibly rewarding. As one of our tutors said when her student achieved her GED, “This is a mountain-top moment. I feel like I helped someone change the whole course of her life! I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling I could have done with my time.” At CFLC we are so incredibly proud of our students for meeting the challenges of these times with courage and perseverance, for vowing to improve themselves and their lives no matter the obstacles. We hope you will consider helping us to help our students, whether you have time, money, or just compassion and awareness to give. Please join us in resolving to make 2021 a better year!
Nancy Woolley is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a Master’s in Literature. She has ten years of experience working with Tutoring and ESOL centers around the country. Nancy is dedicated to education, and convinced that a strong foundation in reading is important for all aspects of life. As a newcomer to Wilmington, she first joined the CFLC community as a volunteer tutor in 2011. After working with several students and seeing firsthand the need for adult literacy resources in the area, she was delighted to become a part of the staff in 2014.
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