Reading is something many of us take for granted. We learned to read when we were kids. That was so long ago that we don’t think of it as a skill we had to acquire — and maybe struggled with.
The truth is there are people for whom reading a newspaper article like this one is a challenge, or even impossible.
Those are the people volunteer tutor Seble Menkir is trying to help.
The Northeast resident works with Philadelphia’s Center for Literacy, a non-profit group dedicated to helping adults master basic reading, writing, math and computer skills.
The center needs more volunteers like Menkir.
“Knowing that the students I help will soon earn their GED high school equivalency diploma is a really rewarding feeling,” said Menkir, who works on math skills with secondary education learners. “It also makes me feel good, sharing my advanced math skills with people who will appreciate the knowledge.”
The center, established in 1968, depends on volunteers to tutor thousands of Philadelphians who request literacy support.
Tutors get nine hours of training, professional development, ongoing supervision and professional support. Tutors are asked to make a six-month commitment to work in small groups with adults. Although no certification is needed, a bachelor’s degree or enrollment in a four-year degree program is required.
“We connect our volunteers with adults who have a strong desire to learn,” said JoAnn Weinberger, the center’s president and executive director. ldquo;Many were born abroad. Others need the basic skills they did not master in school or to study for the GED, which is the high school equivalency diploma. Our learners are committed to their own success and treasure the change that learning makes in their lives.”
Fifty percent of the city’s adults need to increase their literacy skills for today’s work force and today’s economy, Weinberger said in a phone interview.
“That doesn’t mean they can’t read at all,” she said. “But their skills are not at a high enough level for today’s requirements.”
Orientation sessions for prospective volunteers are held throughout the year; upcoming openings are listed on the orientation schedule posted at the center’s Web site: www.centerforliteracy.org. These workshops are free and open to the public. Advance registration is required.
Thousands of adult learners are tutored every year, at no cost to the student, with programs in reading, writing, math and readiness-to-work skills and English as a Second Language.