Opening Doors to Literacy

Neil Jones

It is true; opening doors to literacy can be challenging work, but at Literacy Action there is no shortage of innovation. Here is one story about keeping the door open and one about encouraging our community to become active in the literacy cause.

Kappa’s Engage the Community

The Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumnae Association decided last year to get involved with giving more adults the opportunity to learn to read. Within a few weeks of contacting us, they set plans in motion to sponsor a literary event to benefit Literacy Action. The event, Opening Doors to Literacy, held on March 7th, was superbly organized down to every last detail. They brought together nearly 200 people who were eager to learn about the adult learners in our programs.

The contrast in the program was remarkable. On one hand, we were engaged by three accomplished authors, while at the same time being reminded about the one out of ten adults in our city who struggle to read even on a basic level. Gatherings like these are important because they open doors for discussion and deeper understanding about the issues affecting our community. I will expect in the next few months our paths will cross again with some of the folks in that room, as new tutor volunteers attend a workshop, as an employee gets referred by an employer who learned about our services, or as a community leader helps us expand our service network.

Preparing Students for Community College

Pulaski Technical College recently announced that it would implement a new minimum admissions policy starting Fall 2013. This is a departure from the previous open-door admission policy that allowed high school graduates to be admitted regardless of test scores. The new policy was put in place to address the problem that too many students were entering Pulaski Tech unprepared for coursework because of low reading skills. While it is clear that at some point school officials have to set minimum standards, it is unsettling that a high school diploma does not prepare all students with the literacy skills needed to access post-secondary training opportunities. Pulaski Tech estimates that the door may be closed on up to  400 students next semester.

To keep the door open and to give these students instructional options, Literacy Action, in partnership with ProLiteracy, Inc., is working with Pulaski Tech to offer an intensive reading program designed to improve students’ reading skills to levels high enough to gain them admission to Pulaski Tech and also increase their probability of success in the college’s remedial program. The program will offer a blend of classroom instruction delivered by a credentialed reading specialist and tutoring by volunteer literacy tutors. The first session of the pilot program begins in May. We need just six more volunteers to help with the first session. Contact Kathy Griffin for more information.

There are many ways to get involved in improving literacy in Central Arkansas. Contact us to explore your ideas. By working together we can help to open doors through literacy and begin to change lives, one word at a time.

                                                     – Neil

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