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Adults need tutors for reading skills

January is National Mentoring Month.

All month long we are featuring guest posts from many of our local nonprofits that work with youth and need volunteers to become mentors and tutors. On January 26, 2012, the United Way Volunteer Center invites you to our annual Mentor and Tutor Opportunity Fair from 11:00 - 2:00 at the Omni Hotel. There you will be able to meet in person with representatives from 17 local organizations and fit the right fit for you as a mentor or tutor.

Mentor. Tutor. Pass it on!

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Long ago in a land far, far away (Baton Rouge), I had too much time on my hands. That’s hard to imagine now, but way back in the 1990s life moved slower and I picked up volunteer work as an adult education tutor. My student, a gentleman from Mississippi who worked stocking shelves at the local Piggly Wiggly grocery, was in line to be promoted to Assistant Manager at his store. But he had a HUGE secret. He had never learned read beyond a third-grade level.

He saw the sort of work Assistant Managers performed. With their pencils, paper, and clipboards they checked off inventory as the trucks were unloaded. They filled out order forms to request supplies and fresh merchandise. After ten years of stocking the shelves, my student could tell the difference between “Fresh cut green beans” and “French cut green beans” by looking at the pictures. Unfortunately, the order forms the Assistant Managers had to use contained no pictures.

After I was appropriately trained as a Literacy Volunteer tutor, we began our tutoring sessions. We started with short words.

C-A-N spells “can.”

“What produce item begins with the can sound?”

“Cantaloupe!” He got it. I could almost see the light bulb flash on in his head.

Realistically, he probably never graduated to reading War and Peace. Tolstoy isn’t for everybody. But by the time I left Baton Rouge, he could decipher just about any word related to groceries well enough to earn his promotion.

Fast-forward twenty years later, and I am now the Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/ Albemarle. Every day I see people come in and work hard on their reading skills. I hear tutors go over material with their learners and I can tell they care about helping someone improve their life situation. Many tutors think they get more out of the experience than their students do!

Our next tutor training is January 21 and 23*. See our website (www.literacyforall.org) or call our office (977-3838) for more information 

Guest post by: Ellen Osborne, Executive Director, Literacy Volunteers

 

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