WVa Literacy Volunteers seek to bolster ranks of tutors

FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) — When Lynn Wymer retired from teaching several years ago, she didn’t want to follow the normal path of replacement, so she decided to volunteer.

Wymer still teaches, but in a more direct and personal way. She is a volunteer tutor for Marion County Literacy Volunteers.

“I really missed being able to teach a child to read or do math. I missed helping them understand these things,” Wymer said. “When I see the look on their face when they really understand what you’re saying, it gives deep meaning…you’re not just in front of ‘a class blowing smoke.’

About twice a year, Literacy Volunteers hold a tutor training session designed to attract new volunteers who will provide free tutoring services to anyone, from students to adults, who needs one-on-one help at school or in life.

This year the group did not have spring training, next month they hope to fill their ranks. The volunteers have 26 students this year, which is about their average, usually between 20 and 30.

Currently, there are 16 certified tutors in the program. Since many tutors have other responsibilities, most can only commit a few hours per week to the program, reducing services and creating a need for future training.

“Some of our tutors only want to teach an hour a week, and others are here every day,” said Susan May, director of Literacy Volunteers. “It all depends on what fits into their schedule. We have everything from one-on-one tutoring to full courses (English as a Second Language). There’s something for every schedule.

The upcoming training will guide participants through best practices, materials, and other tutorial basics. At the end of the two-day boot camp, volunteers will be a certified tutor.

The training will be led by Pam Shanholtz, a Literacy Volunteers tutor and the group’s designated tutor trainer.

A big part of the training is helping tutors understand that people will seek help in different ways, whether it’s a student needing help with math homework or an adult. who never learned to read.

While West Virginia has an average literacy rate compared to its neighboring states according to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are still nearly 20% of adults who call themselves illiterate, with Marion County at 19%.

Pam makes sure the guardians are prepared for anything that could happen to them.

“I really try to get interns to understand that sometimes it’s our job to play mother hen,” Shanholtz said. “Teaching reading is hard work and a difficult skill to learn. That’s why we always start with reading.

Like Wymer, many tutors are current or former teachers. But the teaching environment as a tutor is very different from the classroom. Teachers are experts at meeting the needs of large groups of children, but sitting face-to-face with a student or adult for an hour each week changes the approach and the student-teacher dynamic.

This is something Shanholtz tries to point out to interns.

“My goal is to make us a path to a dream for these people, especially adult students,” Shanholtz said. “Sometimes adults have been so downcast that they can’t see a way out, our job is to show them that light at the end of the tunnel and show them the way out.”

The Literacy Volunteer Tutor Training will be a two-day engagement, beginning Friday, October 7 from 6-9 p.m., then starting again the next day, Saturday, October 8 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Interns are required to attend both days. to get the certificate.

For more information, contact the Literacy Volunteer Office at 304-366-6055.

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