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Literacy Volunteer Shares Experiences

January 14, 2009

Today’s post comes from Brittany Lassiter, a fellow Thomas Nelson employee who has recently become a literacy volunteer.  Here’s her most recent testimonial.


These past several months I’ve been tutoring adults at the Cohn Adult Learning Center through the Nashville Adult Literacy Council.  Currently, I blassiter_2tutor one evening a week for 1-2 hours. The experience has truly opened my eyes to the limitations programs like Start Now (the program I’m in)  face due to the economy, shortage of volunteers and most importantly, the availability of adequate resources for both the student and teacher.  More on those issues in a bit.

The NALC gives you a half-day of training prior to your first venture into the world of adult literacy tutoring. Then, you learn by doing.  Don’t they know that I like to plan and prepare to the Nth degree? Needless to say, I was petrified before my first tutoring session.

I made sure to arrive 20 minutes early to at least give myself time to go over the materials beforehand. But, my fears were immediately assuaged when I met my student; he was a kind and friendly middle aged Ecuadorian man and extremely patient as I attempted to navigate the teacher’s manuals. The time absolutely flew by. I loved working with a motivated student. I loved being forced to explain concepts, words and phonics in creative, applicable ways. I loved being able to play a small part in compelling a few adults in this country towards literacy instead of away from it.women studying

Since my first session, I’ve met with 5-8 other students of varying backgrounds, ages and nationalities. Their motivations for learning to read run the gamut.

  • Some want to get their GED,
  • others want to be able to help their kids with their homework,
  • others still want to obtain a better job.

The lack of adequate materials is a barrier to true progress.  Upon learning that I worked at a publisher, one of my students specifically asked,

“Would you consider printing books with content that I enjoy, at a reading level I can understand?”

You see, while these students are highly motivated, they would like to have interesting, affordable and accessible products to aid in the process. Those types of products simply don’t exist and my weekly tutoring sessions only fuel my passion to create products that will infuse the learning process with some joy, knowledge and, yes, even entertainment.  I’m happy to be working for a publisher, because at least there’s the possibility of helping produce books that meet this important need. 

Interestingly, the program organizers face an increase in volunteers during an economic downturn, along with a decrease in donor support. If you’re considering volunteering, I highly recommend that you do. The need is great but the reward is greater still.



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