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Literacy News


by Literacy Volunteers and Advocates on 06/24/14

Many LVA learners received recognition at this year's Tutor-Learner Recognition Ceremony but it was particularly uplifting for LVA staff to see those learners heralded for being the "Most Improved" for two reasons. 

It's great to see students do better and starting to achieve their true potential. But it's also great to know that changes to the LVA program are having the intended results. 

At the beginning of the 2013-2014 session, Leitha Wilson, Lead Instructor and Administrator, worked to reduce the student-instructor ration by recruiting new instructors to enhance LVA's existing corps. 

"Individual attention [to learners] is the tool for success," Ms. Wilson explains. "That way you can meet the specific needs of learners and maximize what they are able to retain." 

How has the emphasis on greater attention to learners and their needs worked out? Well, LVA learners are flourishing. 

Instructor Rafiu Bakare explains how his smaller Foundation II class, for learners with intermediate proficiency in reading, is proving beneficial to two students. 

Mr. Bakare takes particular pride in the progress exhibited by Nathaniel Howerton. 

Mr. Howerton's reading comprehension has improved, as has his vocabulary and his ability to recognize sight words. Particular attention was paid to phonetics. 

Throughout the year, Mr. Bakare provided Mr. Howerton with short paragraphs. Taking the paragraphs home and then writing short statements expressing his interpretation of the paragraph's intent, Mr. Howerton proved to be "religious in bringing back homework." 

Mr. Bakare also wanted his class to read the paragraph upon their return. OFten, Mr. Howerton would be the first one he called upon. 

"Nathaniel did not just do the homework. He sought extra things to do," says Mr. Bakare. 

Janet Daniels, also a student in Mr. Bakare's class, benefitted from the close tutor-instructor contact. 

Mr. Bakare recalls that Ms. Daniels would tell him what she was working on with her tutor,  Grace Terpstra. There were times that both the tutor and instructor thought the material was too advanced for Ms. Daniels. "We'd fall back." 

But the payoff was that Mr. Bakare would keep working with Ms. Daniels to ensure she knew her lessons cold. That enabled her to truly push forward. The result, Mr. Bakare notes, is that Ms. Daniels is more open to participating in class and responding to questions. 

"The one on one tutoring [Ms. Daniels received] and the small classroom was a paradigmatic shift," he says. 

Ms. Terpstra credits Ms. Daniels with experiencing  "a major breakthrough in her reading about a year ago. I believe it is mainly because of her attitude and perseverence. It is such a joy to see this happen and realize that tutoring and teaching at any age can bring success."

LVA learners and instructors are pleased with the results the smaller classes are producing. 

Mr. Howerton says, "The smaller class size is helping me. With a smaller class size you get more attention and more understanding." He believes that helps the instructors to better "understand where people are coming from and what level you are." 

LVA learner Kimberly Velvet, another recipient of the "Most Improved" recognition, also appreciates the smaller classes. Ms. Velvet contrasts the attention she receives in her LVA classes to the lack of it when attending school as a child. 

Ms. Wilson stresses, "We'll continue to keep the smaller classes and more individualized attention to our learners and their needs as long as we are financially able to do it. We want to help our students to succeed." 

LVA learners also receiving recognition for "Most Improved" include Dorsey Haywood, Henry Linton, Gloria Murchison, Dabila Quattra. Maria Rose Senghor, and Madeleine Senghor. 




by Literacy Volunteers and Advocates on 05/22/14

Buckle your seat belts and prepare to embark on a journey. Executive Director Rita Daniels announced at the Learner-Tutor Recognition Ceremony on Tuesday night that LVA's 14th Annual Write From The Heart is now available for purchase. 

Ms. Daniels noted that this year's theme is "Journey to Literacy." LVA learners wrote about how they have benefitted from the instruction that LVA and other literacy providers offer. 

Ms. Daniels expressed particular pride in the handsome cover designed by freelance artist Alimayu Oding. Mr. Oding's cover makes clear where LVA learners are heading. Highway signs proclaim "opportunity" and "winners." Studying at LVA means more than just attending classes but embarking upon a journey toward greater self-awareness and understanding  of the world and how it works. 

Reading the words of the LVA learners it becomes clear how very appreciative many are for the educational skills that many DC residents take for granted. Skills that are due in large part to to being raised in families with access to quality schools and instruction.   

Martha Lee Phillips, a learner with LVA, tells a story that is shared by all too many DC residents in which she expresses the difficulty she experienced with her schoolwork and the lack of help she received from parents who could not read. "I dropped out of school," she writes. Now, thanks to patient and persistent instructors, Ms. Phillips is hopeful that she will soon be able to master filling out job applications and the forms that she must complete at her doctor's office. 

The people who really need to know what learners such as Ms. Phillips are experiencing sit on the ANCs, the city council, and, perhaps, next year, even in the mayor's office. They determine whether adult literacy organizations should receive the funding that is vital to help ensure that LVA and other organizations can continue to help people like Ms. Phillips. They are journalists with large newspapers, TV and radio stations that cover this city and its government. They determine whether many DCers believe that all the city's residents are doing fine or that there are people struggling to do better for themselves and their families. 

Do learners like Ms. Phillips a favor. Purchase a copy of Write From The Heart. It only costs five dollars and can be purchased from the LVA office. Read it, enjoy it. Pass it on to a city official, a member of the news media, or a member of the school board. Let them know that many Washingtonians lack basic literacy skills and that many are striving to overcome this and hope to do better in life. 

When LVA learner Anthony Johnson, author of The Dum One, co-written with Ms. Beverly Green, spoke at the recognition ceremony about his own "Journey to Literacy," he noted that he had been raised believing he was "dumb" because he could not read or write. The illiteracy of his mother was passed on to him. 

Thanks to help from mentors and LVA, Mr. Johnson is a much better reader and writer and vows that the literacy endemic in his family has reached an end. 

It is a goal that the whole city of Washington should embrace. And if enough people speak up then DC will have to realize that no matter how high the educational level of some DC residents, many residents have yet to fully discover the promise of American life because they lack the basic literacy skills that are essential in our city. 

Its' not just the learners who need to have this city journey to greater literacy.  


by Literacy Volunteers and Advocates on 05/15/14

LVA learners will be in the spotlight at the 10th Annual Learner-Tutor Recognition Ceremony that will be held on Tuesday, May 20 at the District of Columbia Community College (DCCC). 

Anthony Johnson, co-author of The Dum One and a LVA learner, will deliver a talk recounting his "journey to literacy." 

Johnson's book, co-written with Beverly Green, details Mr. Johnson's rise from a poverty-stricken upbringing to a more stable life and his battle to overcome illiteracy. 

A reader,  posting a review on the page for The Dum One, asserts that "The trials and tribulations [Mr. Johnson] experienced as a young male, growing up in a poverty stricken neighborhood is a story often told without a happy ending. But his story is one of hope, aspiration, and a drive to overcome any obstacle." 

Mr. Johnson is not alone. Many of his fellow LVA learners also manage to surmount the difficulties posed by their lack of literacy. They often manage to hold jobs,  to raise their families, and many have their own inspiring stories to share. 

An "Open Mike" session will feature LVA learners discussing their own journeys to literacy and how the assistance that LVA is providing is helping them to improve their lives and those of their children and grandchildren.

The 2014 edition of Write From the Heart, which showcases the poetry, prose, and artwork of LVA learners, will be available for purchase at the ceremony. The cost is $5.00

Admission for the Learner-Tutor Recognition Ceremony starts at 5 PM. RSVPs are required to gain entrance. 

The District of Columbia Community College  is located at 801 North Capitol Street, NW. The ceremony will be held in the 1st floor conference room. Photo ID will be required to enter the building.

Union Station is the nearest Metro stop to DCCC. 

LVA is thrilled to announce that two of its learners have
been featured on NPR (88.5 WAMU) as part of a five-part
series on Adult Education called Yesterday's Dropouts. The interview can be found by clicking the WAMU link below. We are so proud of our learners and their dedication to literacy.