The Detroit Free Press reported that low level of literacy adds fuel to employment crisis. Very true.
In Summit County, Ohio, there are 45,000 adults who don’t read well enough to earn a living wage. There is also 52,000 adults over the age of 25 who lack a high school diploma. This is a problem for people who need to be able to read and possess a high school diploma to work a job that pays well enough to support their families.
Although Project Learn serves adults in Summit and Portage county who are in need of literacy skills, we recognize that low literacy is a national problem.
Detroit (Michigan) has about 365,000 residents age 16 and older who read below sixth-grade level. That’s more than a third of a city that is losing residents every year.
Read more about Detroit’s problem here.
Since I didn’t have any classes this week, I got put in charge of facilitating the tutor training on Tuesday and Thursday night. If you don’t know, our training is 12 hours long. Volunteers come to two training sessions and then observe one classroom before they’re matched with a student. So…basically, they got to listen to me drone on for hour upon hour.
While I’ve facilitated tutor training a couple of times before, I’ve forgotten how much material we have to cover. The first day’s the worst (and by worst I hope you or the tutors I just got done training don’t equate that with boring–man, I try to be entertaining). It’s not that we’re merely tossing useless information at them. The first day introduces them to what we do as a program and some characteristics of the students that they’ll end up working with. There’s just so much information to cover, and there’s only so interactive you can make it be.
Now, the second day was a little more interactive and, I hope, more engaging. I reviewed the concepts of phonics with them (to be honest, not my strongest area), but the parts that I found were more successful were the reading strategies that I modelled for them. Don’t worry. I’m not going to bore you with the particulars. If you want to hear about the strategies, I’ll tell you about them another time. But of all the topics I covered, I felt that they were the most successful.
Now, of course, you could say that it’s because it’s what I felt most comfortable. That’s true, but I think that it was more than that. The reason that I think it was the most successful was the fact the it was applicable. The strategies gave them activities they could employ immediately when they got their student. Of course, activities have always been part of the tutor training manual. I guess I now know that I’ll want to make sure to include more applicable modelling the next time I do it. Live and let learn.
Now, stop! Just because we don’t have class for a few weeks doesn’t mean we’re not working. Of course, I was on vacation for a week, but I’m back and more charged (and slightly injured–not that great of a story) than ever. This week, thanks to Papa Rick, Marquita and I are combing the earth, struggling to find businesses who would like to donate–merchandise, gift cards, anything–for our raffle auction, part of our Signature Event, in October.
While I’m happy to support Project Learn (and I think I’ve without a doubt demonstrated my dedication–how many of you would really dress up in character and costume and perform to help make a successful event: thus far, I’m the only one at this office), I hate to make these phone calls. Okay. Now, hate is strong word and to be honest, once you get started, you kind of get in a groove, which makes the soliciting a little easier to take. And…more often than not, you just end up faxing the event information and hoping that the people in charge find the cause as important as all of us do. However, I just dread when I actually have to give a sales pitch to somebody. I hate asking people for money. It’s not that I think I’m too good to do the work. I don’t know why, but I just feel guilty when I’m doing it.
While some of you might disagree with me, I’m not a saleman honest. I can’t smooze people and talk them in to the hard sell. And it’s not just business-oriented: I hate asking my friends and family for money. I mean any money. I’m not a huge fan of asking friends to help me out when I’m shy 50 cents at the checkout counter.
Knowing that it will make a difference is the only thing that keeps me going (That and Rick’s constant reminders that it helps pay for my salary). No, but seriously, fundraising is a vital part of our organization, and every employee (or anybody who will help) has a responsibility to do it. It’s been said time and time again: everything has a price. With that in mind, providing people with the opportunity to help themselves doesn’t come free either. We need all the support we can get. Hope to see you all on October 18 at our signature event. But until then, think of me wincing time and time again when I call another restaurant or retail store and ask to speak to a manager.