PRINCE EDWARD Literacy effort held October training

Twelve people attended a recent Prince Edward County Literacy Council training session for those interested in becoming tutors.

The session, held Monday, Sept. 30, at the STEPS Inc., administration building, was part of STEPS and the literacy council’s joint undertaking to reestablish or strengthen local Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language, and Family Literacy efforts. Proponents already have 10 tutors “in the pipeline,” but the goal is to have 25 so that the effort can hit full stride.

“This group will give us a good number, and we’re almost there,” said Lonnie Calhoun, one of the organizers, of the most recent training. The classroom instruction will have to be supplemented with some online, self-paced instruction.

Overall, tutoring efforts will include functional ability such as writing a resume, and doing a mock interview. Advocates would also like an emphasis on incorporating technology such as computers into the daily life of the learners.

Mora da Silva, adult education transitions specialist at Southside Virginia Community College, instructed the participants in the complexities and intimacies of tutoring adults.

As the world changes, “it really is important to teach your students to use computers, smartphones,” she said. “It is a very different world. People need to think critically, not believe everything they see on Facebook.”

During the session, Silva walked the group through some of the dos and don’ts of tutoring. As the group watched a video on what not to do they laughed aloud at missteps and miscues such as not being prepared or taking time to make sure the charge understands words. Then they sat in silence taking it all in during the video about good instruction habits.

“It’s a lot about exposure,” she cautioned the want-to-be tutors. “You can’t really hurt somebody if you’re a good person and patient. The only way you can hurt somebody is if your attitude is bad.”

 A litany of community organizations and groups has offered support to the endeavor, including the Barbara Rose Johns Farmville-Prince Edward Community Library, which will house the tutoring sessions and will offer computer instruction. An eventually-to-be-hired director will spread the efforts to other locations across the county.

A pilot tutoring effort focusing on one-on-one and small-group instruction has already begun. As part of the pilot, organizers are asking tutors to reach out to those they know of in need of instruction and begin teaching.

Organizers got some good news in August when they learned they had received funding from the Wish You Well Foundation. The grant allows them to “begin our strategic planning for small classroom-based instruction and special target populations,” said Calhoun at the time of grant’s announcement.

This was the second tutor training session. The first was held in May, and STEPS, a partner in the undertaking, is planning a celebration for those in that group finishing up their required training.

A Facebook page has also been set up to advertise literacy council meetings and provide updates on activities and happenings. Those interested in tutoring can contact Calhoun by cell phone at 804-307-4748 or by email at charlit401@gmail.com.

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