Needed: Literacy volunteers
By Willie Kiernan
The county needs more literacy teachers, according to Morris Atwood, Madison County Literacy Coordinator.
"Every week we get calls from adults who need help with their English skills," Atwood said
Madison County Reads Ahead, a literacy program for adults, needs more volunteer tutors to meet the needs of adults seeking literacy services
"Many of them are looking for help to prepare for the GED Exam," Atwood said. "Madison County Reads Ahead is now two years old and the word is getting around that we offer one-to-one tutoring services at times convenient for the student."
The program, begun in 2000 out of Project Read at the Oneida Public Library, serves adult needs for basic English and immigrants seeking to learn English as a second language.
"American's growing literacy problem is a national concern, one that effects all communities," said Cindy McCall, who works in Cazenovia as a tutor and literacy coordinator for Read Ahead. "Federal census information shows that 93 million Americans, half the adult population, lack a basic adult education and are in need of literacy services. With resources that are currently available, literacy programs reach about three million Americans yearly, which does not go far at all toward addressing the problem."
Here in Madison County, the picture is slightly better. The population in need of literacy services is closer to 40 percent. But the local literacy resources and programs now available fall short of reaching many of the people's needs.
"Funded by the CNY Community Foundation, Read Ahead hopes to help remedy that situation," McCall said. "Based at area public libraries, Read Ahead is a free service that matches volunteer tutors with adult learners."
The training is for volunteer tutors from all parts of Madison County. Literacy services are available in Bridgeport, Canastota, Cazenovia, Chittenango, Hamilton, Morrisville, and Oneida, and additional tutors are needed in each of these communities. Tutoring sessions take place in the public libraries in these communities. Learners work one-on-one with tutors at flexible hours that suit their schedule. Tutors work with learners in three categories: adult basic education, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), and those preparing for the GED Examination (high school equivalency certification).