This week the Illinois State Library spotlights Common Place of Peoria.
As a child, this adult learner was enrolled in Common Place’s after-school program. Unfortunately, he dropped out of school when he was older. His life went into a downhill spiral, ending with homelessness and leaving Peoria. After moving back to Peoria, he decided to make some changes in his life. He stopped in to say hello at Common Place, where staff members made him feel so welcome that he signed up for the Adult Literacy Program. He began studying with a tutor and made great progress in improving his reading and math skills.
When he found a job opening, he asked his tutor to help him prepare the application and practice interviewing. This preparation resulted in his first job at the age of 27! As his confidence and motivation grew, his reading and math continued to improve. In spite of having a pronounced stutter, he agreed to be interviewed in a video that was featured at Common Place’s “Love in Action” dinner. He has spoken to tutors at a training session and is open to speaking when requested. He recently moved into his own apartment for the first time. Since he owned nothing but clothes, staff and tutors at Common Place helped him furnish his new apartment. He has turned his life around and they are all proud of him.
This week the Illinois State Library spotlights Hanul Family Alliance in Chicago.
Ten years ago, a 65-year-old woman moved to the United States from Korea. Although she lived in the U.S., she never learned to speak English. She tried to take the U.S. citizenship test after memorizing the 100 questions that would be on the test. However, she found she was too afraid to be face-to-face with a person that spoke fluent English.
She joined the tutoring program at Hanul and was matched with a wonderful tutor who helped her practice English and completely get rid of her fear. After working with her tutor, she passed the U.S. citizenship test. Her participation in the literacy program has helped her live more independently in the U.S. With her increased self-confidence and improved English, she is enjoying the American way of living much more and contributing to her community.
This week the Illinois State Library spotlights John A. Logan College in Carterville.
Life can bring embarrassment when a person doesn’t have strong reading skills. When this 65-year-old grandmother was cooking with her eight-year-old granddaughter and couldn’t read a recipe without her granddaughter’s assistance, she decided to get help. Her husband went with her to the local public library to inquire about reading classes, and the woman was referred to John A. Logan College’s literacy program. Staff tested the woman’s reading level and matched her with a tutor who met with her at the library.
Together, tutor and student work on vocabulary, phonics and writing. Because this student is eager and excited to learn, she has improved two grade-levels in just a short time. She is interested in obtaining a better job, and is learning how to complete job applications. The literacy program has made an enormous difference in her life in just a few months!
Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White and Dennis DeRossett, executive director of the Illinois Press Association, recently honored the winners of the 2013 Spotlight on Literacy Awards recognizing outstanding students and volunteer tutors in Illinois literacy programs.
I am honored to congratulate these outstanding students for seeking to enhance their reading, writing, math and language skills, said White. Many of them have overcome tremendous personal difficulties and obstacles, and they are now on the path to lifelong learning. I am also proud to recognize our outstanding volunteer tutors for helping students achieve their utmost potential. I believe each of us should give something back to our neighbors and our communities, and these tutors are a wonderful example of the positive impact that comes from volunteerism.
The Secretary of State/Illinois State Library Literacy Office spends approximately $6 million each year to support Adult, Family and Workplace literacy programs throughout the state. This year, 164 programs are in operation serving all regions of Illinois. During fiscal year 2012, 19,930 adult students were served by literacy programs that received grants from the Secretary of State/Illinois State Library Literacy Office. Approximately, 7,976 tutors volunteered to instruct students. Those nominated are involved in programs that receive grants from the Secretary of State/Illinois State Library Literacy Office. Check out the full list of award winners here!
This week the Illinois State Library spotlights: Erie Neighborhood House in Chicago.
This adult learner carried many family responsibilities as a mother of five children under the age of nine. She wanted to learn English to effectively handle everyday family situations. For instance, she needed to be able to interact with the family doctor when her children were sick. She knew the importance of understanding instructions for giving medicine to her children. When she registered her children for school, she wanted to understand the process and be able to talk with their teachers and help her children with homework. She also wanted to increase her independence by learning to navigate public transportation. This adult learner sought out English instruction classes at Erie Neighborhood House, because of these needs.
The woman met with several tutors multiple times per week. Even though she had to walk at least a mile each way to attend tutoring sessions, the woman knew if she studied more she would improve her English speaking skills quicker. Her determination paid off. She now understands how to give medicine to her sick children and helps other adults in her community understand their health issues. The woman is involved in her children’s school activities. She continues to meet with her tutor to improve her vocabulary in reading and writing. She’s now determined to be an example to her children, showing them how essential it is to continue to learn new skills.
This week the Illinois State Library spotlights Literacy Volunteers of DuPage in Naperville.
Like most immigrants, this adult learner came to the United States full of dreams. She realized that not speaking English would be a barrier to achieving those dreams. Facing financial issues and looking after two young children, it was difficult to fit English classes into her busy schedule. Literacy DuPage gave her the opportunity to learn English and after one year of working with a tutor, she became more fluent and confident.
She can now go shopping, meet with her son’s teachers and read stories to her children. The woman has opened a bank account and is applying for a job. She even translates for other women who need help learning English. Before she came to America, the woman was a surgical technologist, so her goal is to resume that career. Her children are getting help learning English and her oldest child will be prepared when he begins kindergarten. The best gift of all is this family’s sense of belonging to their community. That would not have been possible without the help she received from Literacy DuPage.
This week the Illinois State Library spotlights Asian Human Services in Chicago.
A young Algerian mother immigrated to the United States with her two young sons. Soon after, the young woman visited Asian Human Services to help her family learn English. When school began in the fall, the boys struggled to complete their homework assignments and their grades suffered. To address the problem, they began attending the Asian Human Services after school program while their mother was studying Adult Basic Education. The mother, After-School Coordinator and school staff met to develop individual education plans for both boys.
The older son began working on basic phonics skills each day with his tutor. He began to show steady progress in reading and math, and slowly his grades improved. The younger son rarely attended classes and when he did attend, he was unprepared. When the After School Coordinator met with his mother to review his grades and to talk about the missing assignments, she showed his mother how to check his grades and homework assignments online. With that knowledge, she could help him keep on task. Once he began trying harder, his grades improved.
His mother also used the information she learned in classes on child development and parenting to help interact with her children. All three family members have greatly benefited from the Family Literacy program.
This week the Illinois State Library spotlights: Literacy Volunteers of Illinois in Chicago.
Literacy Volunteers of Illinois partners with School District #428 and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice to provide one-on-one tutoring and mentoring at the Illinois Youth Center (IYC) in St. Charles. A 17-year-old participant didn’t like school and didn’t understand the importance of learning or reading. He was referred to the tutoring program by his reading teacher, but had no idea why.
The young man was reluctant to read, which presented challenges at first. One day he brought his classwork to the tutoring session and that was the beginning of a special learning experience. The more the tutor helped him with his homework, the more productive the young man was in class. Eventually, he was reading on his own, with his tutor and in class. He began to have intelligent discussions about what he read and recently finished reading his first novel.
While this young man was incarcerated his son was born, giving him a new perspective on life and learning. Upon being released, he thanked his tutor and promised to obtain his high school diploma or GED. He is going to buy books to read to his son and plans to read to him every day so that his son won’t have the same struggle with school.
This week the Illinois State Library spotlights the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.
A young mother of three joined the Leer es Poder program at College of DuPage to improve her English. The woman was shy and very hesitant to speak at first, but she always did her homework and slowly gained confidence in her English speaking abilities. By the end of last year, her English skills had greatly improved. She even recruited her husband to join the program and helped him to understand and pronounce English words correctly.
The woman has become a class leader and volunteers to read and answer questions. She has started speaking English with her children, and both parents enjoy interacting with their children during Parent and Child Together time. This family has been transformed by this important literacy program.
This week the Illinois State Library spotlights The Literacy Council in Rockford.
A native of Burma visited the Literacy Council to improve her English speaking skills so she could advance her education, progress in her career and adapt to American culture. While working with her tutor, the woman studied for the GED, and soon her reading, writing, speaking and listening skills had improved.
She went on to obtain a full-time job as a bilingual tutor at Kishwaukee Elementary School, where she now helps other immigrant families and refugees. Currently, the woman is taking classes in the Childcare Program at Rock Valley College. She feels more empowered and at home in the United States. Once she has lived here for five years, she plans to obtain her U.S. citizenship. She is a model for others to achieve their goals.