English Language Learners Share their Dreams
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More Literacy Stories
Click on any image to start the slide show. Photos courtesy of Andy Shelter Photography, styled by Amy Pollack of Twist ‘n’ Shout Graphic Design.
STARTING A SECOND CAREER Vietnam Veteran Art Caple retired from a long career in the elevator industry but realized he would need a GED to get back into the job market. Art found the math test especially challenging, but passed with help from individualized tutoring sessions. After earning his GED, Art immediately enrolled in a two-year program in advanced welding. “Thanks to the Literacy Council I will get to master two career skills in one lifetime,” says Art. “What began as a struggle turned out to be fun.”
WORKPLACE IMPACT After leaving high school to raise a family, Dave Bennett worked at several jobs and volunteered as an emergency responder. “No matter how much training and experience I had, I did not have the one important thing and that was my GED,” says Dave. With his GED, he was able to land a family-sustaining position at a newly opened oil-transportation facility in Delaware County.
ADAPTING TO A NEW COUNTRY Mu Jirasupakorn emigrated from Thailand to the U.S. and was able to find a position in the field of technology fairly quickly. He felt frustrated, however, at not being able to express himself fully, so he came to the Literacy Council for help in reading and writing. Working with Volunteer Tutor Melina Micich, Mu reached his goal of improving his English skills and also became a U.S. Citizen.
VOLUNTEER TUTORS CHANGE LIVES Volunteers Pat Paul, Sandy Kauffman, Barbara Sheehan, and Jack Stoddard work together to tutor adults who need help with reading, writing, and math. All four are retired and meet with their students twice a week. “Our sessions are often filled with good cheer and laughter,” says Jack. Pat adds, “Working with such selfless tutors and dedicated students makes me look forward to coming every week.”
FAMILY PRIDE “After going 25 years with only a sixth-grade education, I came to the Literacy Council to fulfill one unaccomplished goal: to capture my high school equivalency diploma,” says Bill Killinger. Bill earned his GED and encouraged his daughter Danielle to do the same. A year after Bill reached his goal, Danielle reached hers. Appropriately enough, she cites her own children as motivation: “I wanted to get my GED to get a better job and create a better life for my kids.”
TUTOR TRAINERS Before a DCLC volunteer tutor can meet with an adult student, the tutor must be trained. Tutor training follows a structured model of student-centered instruction. Tutors are provided with materials appropriate to their students’ skill level and are encouraged to make a personal connection to help students overcome any anxiety they might be feeling. In DCLC’s 40 years, an estimated 6,000 volunteer tutors have been trained.
AN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY Immigrants come to the Literacy Council to learn English and to study American history and government as they prepare for the U.S. Citizenship exam. They also get the chance to learn about other cultures. “I learn about the world because in my class there are many students from different countries, religions, and beliefs,” says this student from Guinea in West Africa. In a recent year, DCLC provided ESL instruction to adults from 48 different countries, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ghana, Russia, and Venezuela.
LEARNING TO BUILD A NEW LIFE Civil war in Liberia caused Madoussou Fofana to leave her country and immigrate to the U.S. Madoussou hopes to build on her current work as a caregiver and eventually become a licensed nurse. With help from Volunteer Tutor Barbara Demps, Madoussou is improving her reading and writing and recently passed the U.S. citizenship test. Barbara especially enjoys teaching Madoussou reading, saying, “I love to read and I wanted someone else to realize how rewarding it is.”
COMMUNITY IMPACT Sherrice Hill studied math at DCLC with the ultimate goal of starting her own business. Sherrice, like many adult students, juggled her math studies with her job and family responsibilities. Sherrice also found time to contribute to her community. Sherrice has organized block parties, volunteered with a community parenting program, and advocated for better GED policies. Recently she worked to garner support for revitalizing the YWCA in Chester. “Improving Chester is just a natural part of being a good neighbor,” says Sherrice.
EVERYDAY IMPACT Carl Johnson is determined to reach his ultimate goal of getting his GED, but is pleased with his achievements along the way. Carl sees progress after working with Volunteer Tutor Patrick Lewis. “My reading is improving. I see things differently, like signs, and I can read my mail better now, too,” says Carl. Patrick finds working with Carl very rewarding: “Helping others achieve their personal goals has given me an immense sense of accomplishment.”