“Sue” was 15 years old when she dropped out of school, as she was pregnant and married soon after. School never came easy to her, and after failing two grades she became embarrassed to fall that far behind.
While Sue has been successful in raising a family of three children, as well as her younger sister, her inability to read has always been something she has tried to hide.
For Sue and many others like her in the Alexander City area, there is a place ready and willing to help them gain the gift of literacy.
Organized in 1986 and currently under the leadership of director Rita Cream, the Laubach Literacy Council tutors adults who currently read below a fifth-grade level or whose primary language is not English at least once a week for three hours. Tutors meet with their students one-on-one, giving those receiving help the highly focused attention they need in order to better succeed.
With an illiteracy rate of 27 percent in Tallapoosa County, having the Laubach Literacy Council ready to serve those in need is invaluable.
“Sue’s husband called us a little more than a year ago, wanting to know how to encourage someone to ask for our services,” Cream said. “He came with her to the initial intake appointment. Sue did not think she could learn to read because reading was always hard for her to learn and a teacher had told her that not everyone could learn to read. Even though we could not guarantee she would learn, she agreed to try. At Sue’s intake assessment, she read at a level of 2.8 (about second grade, eight months).
“Sue and her tutor started out meeting two times a week for an hour. Her husband was trained as a tutor so that he could help her at home. Soon, she asked the tutor if they could meet either three times a week or for a longer period of time. They stayed at two times a week but have increased to two hours for each class. Also, she began using some computer software to help her study more independently.”
Sue has shown significant progress, recently being assessed at 5.2 (fifth grade, two months), Cream said.
Along with the one-on-one tutoring lessons with its adult clientele, the Laubach Literacy Council works with local Head Start organizations and Volunteer Connections of Central Alabama to offer a reading program where families can read together. The council has seen many success stories, including Sue’s.
“She continues to meet her tutor and advance her reading skills,” Cream said. “Her youngest child will graduate from college next year. It is Sue’s goal to be ready to attend GED classes by then and pass the GED in another year or two. Sue is also a grandmother and says that reading to her grandchildren is a joy she never dreamed of experiencing. That is the most special kind of success.”
For more information about the Laubach Literacy Council, call 256-215-4347.
Cream said the council is always looking for volunteers to serve on the group’s board.