Student at Literacy Coalition-South Central Arkansas
In July of 2011, Jennifer was referred to Literacy Coalition by a friend who had contacted the Dollar General National Literacy Directory on her behalf. Jennifer came to Literacy Coalition as a shy and insecure personality, but very eager to learn. She was well aware of her reading abilities. Jennifer had completed 12 years of high school but had moved from one special education class to another, and wasn’t at all satisfied with not being able to read above a 3rd grade level. She recalled being told that she should learn to accept that a low reading level is the best she would ever be able to achieve, but she didn’t accept that as a final answer. She wanted to at least try and read better. I still remember the sincerity of her question during our interview when she asked me, “Do you think you can help me learn to read better”? I remember feeling a tugging of my heart before I looked directly into her eyes and replied, “Absolutely”.
After our interview, she was pre-assessed. The results showed her exactly where she thought she would be: beginning basic education. Jennifer was ready to begin tutoring that very day, but like many other learners, she had no regular transportation to weekly sessions. Literacy Coalition arranged for her to have transportation through another local agency so she could begin attending classes twice weekly for four hours each day. By September 2011, Jennifer’s reassessment showed she was now working on a low intermediate basic education level. She continued to attend both one-to-one and group tutoring regularly. Jennifer proudly completed her given assignments and started to even look forward to progression assessments within her curriculum. On May 23, 2012, Jennifer was again formally assessed for progress. The smile on hers’ and her tutors’ faces were priceless as the results showed Jennifer had successfully completed Literacy Level 4, functioning on high intermediate basic education. Jennifer is currently just steps away from reaching her goal of completing Literacy Level 5, grade level 9-10.9 in reading. Upon completing Literacy Level 6, Jennifer will celebrate finally obtaining an authentic secondary education in reading.
To date, Jennifer has realized many accomplishments in literacy. She has learned to enjoy reading and using the internet. She got her first ever library card as an adult learner with Literacy Coalition. She also studied with a tutor to obtain her driver license in 2012, and purchased her first car by early 2013. She is no longer the timid Jennifer that walked through the doors at Literacy Coalition in 2011, but is currently a strong confident young woman who lives independently in her own apartment and looks forward to attending community college within a few years to study Early Childhood Education because she wants to become a licensed day care provider.
A combination of contributing factors; access to a literacy organization in her area, caring volunteer literacy tutors, and her own determination to accomplish personal goals have caused Jennifer to overcome obstacles that were preventing her from being her best self. While every learner is unique and his or her literacy path is different, Jennifer’s personal route is an example of how literacy definitely works after one takes that all important first step.