Training offered for literacy volunteers

Apr 15, 2019

Literacy Volunteers of Waldo County is offering a four-week training course for those interested in literacy, reading and how to foster those interests in others through tutoring.

The free training will consist of four sessions held on Fridays, beginning April 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Belfast Adult Education Learning Center. It will continue on May 10, 17 and 24.

The training will encompass information about becoming a literacy volunteer tutor as well as tips, ideas and research for volunteers who are actively tutoring or for community members who simply want to learn more about literacy. Each class will feature a variety of experts in reading, literacy skill development and education. The training is free (with donations toward materials accepted) and refreshments will be offered.

This training is designed to inspire and inform anyone interested in literacy, including new and prospective tutors, as well as all educators and community members. It will offer an orientation to the basics of tutoring presented by Denise Pendleton, Literacy Volunteers coordinator, and a panel of active tutors.

On May 10, the second workshop, “Communication Across Poverty Barriers,” presented by Bonnie Swiderek, will examine how biases can create barriers to communication and share strategies for working with individuals who live in the crisis of poverty.

The third workshop session on May 17, presented by Pendleton, will provide recent research and strategies for developing comprehension skills.

The fourth and final session will provide research and hands-on learning about the role of phonological processing skills in the development of reading skills, presented by reading specialist, Dr. Robin Lovrien.

According to ProLiteracy, the national nonprofit sponsoring organization of Literacy Volunteers, more than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third grade level and more than 10 million Americans have reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level.

In Waldo County, according to the Waldo CAP Needs Assessment Report 2017, one in 13 Waldo County residents are lacking the basic functional literacy skills necessary to complete a driver’s license test or job application.

“In the past year, Literacy Volunteers has maintained close to 20 matches at any one time," Pendleton said. "Our goal is to increase those tutor-student learning partnerships, because there are clearly many more in need of our services than we can reach. Our volunteers help as tutors and also in outreach to promote awareness and access to the literacy learning opportunities we provide.”

At present, Literacy Volunteers has 32 active matches supported by 27 active volunteers. Tutoring is being provided in reading, writing, ESL, math, and other miscellaneous areas that include outreach into the schools and computer skills. Tutoring needs may encompass helping a college student write a business plan or college paper, or helping someone develop skills to pass the High School Equivalency Test or Accuplacer test for entrance into a community college.

Volunteers are also helping in the development of a Writing Center at the local high school for tutors who are interested in working with high school students. ESL students include families from Thailand and Vietnam. Tutors meet with their learning partners for a few weeks, a few months or a few years, depending on the needs and availability.

Other Literacy Volunteers provide support in non-tutoring capacities, such as advising, WaldoReads Little Libraries and outreach.

Literacy Volunteers provides free, confidential services to adults (ages 18 and older) who would like to improve their reading, writing, math, and/or computer skills. Trained volunteers work one-to-one with adults (often in the library and at Belfast Adult Ed) and one-hour learning sessions are scheduled around work and other obligations. Assistance is available for native speakers as well as new English learners.

The mission of Literacy Volunteers of Waldo County is to empower adult learners by increasing their literacy skills, improving opportunity through reading, and enhancing a culture of literacy within our community.

Literacy Volunteers of Waldo County is a program of Belfast Adult Education, located at 6B Lions Way, at the foot of the Belfast Area High School driveway on Waldo Avenue.  To register for the training, or for more information about becoming a student or tutor with Literacy Volunteers, contact Pendleton at 338-3197 or


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