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Madison County Reads Ahead gives helping hand in GED prep

For the past 15 months, Kathy Stagnitti has led the charge at the Canastota Public Library for the Madison County Reads Ahead program.

The program began in 2006 with some inspiration from a literacy program at the Oneida Public Library. The program initially targeted libraries in Morrisville, Hamilton and Bridgeport. The following year, it hit Cazenovia and in 2008, found its way to Canastota and Chittenango.

Madison County Reads Ahead is a one-on-one tutoring program that aids people in reading, learning English as a second language (ESL) and GED preparation.

"The thing I've learned is when people have one-on-one tutoring, amazing things can happen," the program's overall coordinator Morris Atwood said. "The tutors we have are very creative, relate well to learners and empathetic. I think that is the real strength of what we do."

All of the libraries stay connected through the tutors who continually refer people to one another. In addition, referals are often received through Working Solutions and other agencies.

Stagnitti, the coordinator at Canastota, has had two students earn their GED and has one planning to take the test in January. Furthermore, she has had one student enter the external degree program which tests the same skills as the GED but allows for adjustments such as time. She also has one student from Jordan taking ESL, one student with a set goal of March 2010 for her GED and five single mothers in the program.

"Kathy Stagnitti has been very proactive. She's done an excellent job of meeting needs there," Atwood said. "That's the direction of the program to take. The local coordinators guide the program."

One of Stagnitti's current students, Randy Tallman, has been attending the tutoring sessions for a month.

"I wanted to better my life. I want to earn my GED to be a paid firefighter," the 21 year old said.

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