Literacy Program In ‘Desperate’ Need of Volunteer Tutors

literacy sign FB

Michele Robbins (top photo, seated right) of the Bradford-Wyoming Co. Literacy Program met with the Wyoming County Commissioners on Sept. 6 to proclaim International Literacy Day on Sept. 8 and Sept. 26 to Oct. 1 as National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week in Wyoming County. Afterwards, she erected a banner on the courthouse lawn with the help of Wyoming County maintenance employee Brian Ball (above, right).


Photos and Story by Rick Hiduk

The Bradford-Wyoming Co. Literacy Program (BWCLP) provides English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, as well as free and confidential one-to-one tutoring for adults and children who need to improve their reading and writing skills. For the latter, the agency is sorely in need of volunteers.

No college degree is needed. You just have to be able to read,” said BWCLP Program Director Michele Robbins, who explained that the agency provides instruction and guidance to tutors. “Some of our best tutors have no college education.” Nonetheless, having tutors with college degrees is helpful to BWCLP when it comes to acquiring grants.

Robbins attended the regular meeting of the Wyoming County Commissioners on Sept. 6, where commissioners Judy Mead and Tom Henry read aloud two proclamations about international, national, and regional literacy initiatives.

BWCLP was established in 1980 by Friends of the Bradford County Library to serve both Wyoming and Bradford counties. According to Robbins, services are fairly evenly divided between the two counties, with more Bradford County residents taking advantage of adult education programs and more students in ESL classes in Wyoming County. There are two ESL classes in Meshoppen and one each in Laceyville and Tunkhannock. Last year, BWCLP provided approximately 1,820 hours of ESL instruction alone to 61 adults and teenagers.

The Bradford County Library continues to sponsor the program, which provides individual and group instruction at libraries, schools, and in churches for 90 minutes twice per week. Robbins noted that volunteer tutors do not need to be able to speak Spanish nor any other language besides proficiently English to be a big help.

While no previous teaching experience is required, volunteers must complete a 12-hour tutor training workshop. Training will be conducted at the Bradford County Library on Saturdays, Sept. 17 and 24, and Thursdays Oct. 6, 13, and 20. The final training workshop for the year will be held at the Tunkhannock Public Library on Saturdays, Nov. 3, 10, and 23 from 6 to 9 pm.

Robbins said that BWCLP wants to get more involved with the community in Wyoming County and “put a face on the organization.” Activities like a senior expo and programs like tutoring for prisoners currently conducted in Bradford County could be replicated in Wyoming County, she noted.

Commissioner Tom Henry said that BWCLP’s services would be welcome at the Wyoming County Jail. He also suggested that there might be some retired teachers or other seniors who could be very effective as tutors.

Through the course of September, a number of area eateries will participate in the Restaurants for Literacy fundraiser, donating a portion of one day’s proceeds to the Literacy Program. Mark’s Valley View Restaurant between Wyalusing and Laceyville will host its fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 25.

International Literacy Day, established in 1966 by UNESCO, is marking its 50th anniversary this year. It is estimated that more than 60 million adults in the United States lack even basic literally skills and cannot participate fully in society. Another 30 million have only basic literary skills, such as the ability to sign a form or fill out a banking deposit slip.

For further information about BWCLP or to register for a tutoring workshop, interested readers may contact Robbins at 570-297-3375 and or log on to BWCLP is an accredited affiliate of PrLiteracy and a member agency of the United Way of Bradford County.

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