As students in Carroll County prepare to head back to school and college, many adults are taking advantage of a free educational opportunity to learn to read and write at the Literacy Council of Carroll County (LCCC). These adult students are often individuals who were left behind in school for a number of different reasons. Some are immigrants from any number of countries, such as Russia, Korea, Georgia, Cameroon, and numerous Latin America countries. They are pursuing the ability to read, write and speak English. Most have the ultimate goal of becoming citizens. Whatever the reason, they all have one common goal: to improve their lives through a better education. Accomplishing that will lead to getting a job or improving on their current positions.
The Literacy Council has changed its primary purpose since its founding in 1979. At that time, many of our students were farmers or family members, who had dropped out of school at a young age to work on the family farm. Our records from that time period show student goals were to be able to read to children and or grandchildren, to write their own Christmas cards, and to be able to read the latest farm news in the papers. Some were beginning to want to be more involved in the paperwork farmers were being increasingly asked to do by various agencies. Of course, not all students were involved in the agricultural world.
Today we are seeing individuals who want to gain employment, to get promoted and to pass exams to obtain a license to do business. Immigrants often have little or no knowledge of the English language, but their children attend our public schools and often require assistance from their parents who lack the ability to help. We are training those parents on how to deal with this and many other situations they face daily.
It is because of our volunteer tutors, who put in thousands of hours each year, that we are able to help over 100 students per year. Our tutors’ devotion to the students is evident in the many hours some spend outside of the classroom environment working with their student. We are proud of each and every tutor that gives of their time and knowledge in this endeavor.
The staff at the LCCC is no less as valuable a part of the success of the program with each having their own area of expertise that they share with the program. Some are computer specialists, media specialists, printing and design specialists, and some are the face of the organization at the various locations we maintain throughout the county. Regardless of the job they do, they do it with a solid commitment to the students.
The LCCC is always looking to add to our programs to assist individuals with learning. One of our newest is the Veterans Program. This program was designed to help the transitioning veteran to civilian life by providing assistance with resume writing, interviewing for a job, test preparation and remedial training in any subject they may need help understanding. This program is open to all veterans, their families and survivors, regardless of how long they have been separated from the military.
We are always looking for volunteers to help in any number of ways from office volunteers, to fundraising activities, but especially in new tutors. No experience is required because we will teach you how to be a tutor. Days and hours for tutoring are flexible. We have teaching locations scattered throughout the county. If you have 2 to 3 hours per week to volunteer to teach please call our office to talk with our tutor coordinator.
While total illiteracy is almost eradicated, functional illiteracy (sixth grade and below) is between 12 to 15 percent of the population. Our goal to eliminate as much of that percentage as possible. We are here to help. If someone you know in our community could benefit from the free educational services we provide, please pass along our information to them. With your help we can do it!
Samuel Greenholtz is the executive director of the Literacy Council of Carroll County. Contact the council at 410-857-0766.