Free tutor training provided by the SLC

Published 9:04 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tutoring: Barbara Lebel, right, practices tutoring Karen Grogan at the Suffolk Literacy Council tutor training session on Tuesday. The tutors in training take turns tutoring one another to prepare for future tutoring sessions.

If you are a strong reader and want to give back to your community, the tutor training organized by the Suffolk Literacy Council may be a good place to start.

The literacy council prepares tutors to train and empower adults through one-on-one basic tutoring in reading and writing.

The Suffolk Literacy Council held its first of two sessions Tuesday. Tutors in training will return for the second session on Feb. 1 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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“There’s a great need out there for literacy,” said Sharon DeWitt, tutor coordinator for the literacy council. “There are many opportunities in the community, but if you can’t read, how do you know there are opportunities?”

DeWitt explained that many tutors have been inspired by important people in their lives who were unable to read or struggled with reading. She said that many tutors didn’t realize for years that their loved ones struggled with reading.

“All of us have had a personal story as to someone that touched our hearts that we found out in later years didn’t know how to read,” DeWitt said. “You can’t tell if people need literacy training. It’s difficult to identify.”

“We are able to put people in the workforce, and people are able to feel good about themselves,” she said.

The program trains adults at any level. Literacy instruction is need-based, so it begins at the client’s reading level. Clients are tested to assess which areas they need to focus on before being matched up with a tutor.

Clients are re-evaluated at intervals, when they finish a workbook or after a 90-day period, to assess their progress. They can sign up for tutoring themselves, or family, friends, churches or agencies can refer them.

DeWitt said many adults are hesitant to begin receiving tutoring for fear that it will be similar to the traditional school environment. However, she said, “Tutoring for literacy is very different than going to school. You are not going back to school. You will be treated as an adult.”

The Suffolk Literacy Council typically holds tutor training twice a year or according to the needs of its clients. The Suffolk Literacy Council provides workbooks and all necessary materials to tutors and clients free of charge thanks to generous donations.

DeWitt is excited to have 15 tutors in training currently, as she expects to have a number of referrals soon from the Workforce Development Center.

If you are interested in becoming a tutor or if you would like to refer someone to the program, contact the Suffolk Literacy Council at 514-7733.