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Suffolk Literacy Council announces new staff

The Suffolk Literacy Council recently announced an addition and promotion to its staff that works hard to expand literacy in Suffolk.

The council hired DeAnna Smith to be the new program coordinator. She received her Master of Arts in English literature from Old Dominion and spent three years as program coordinator for Humanities Behind Bars. Now, Smith is working to find the best ways to continue to spread literacy while facing a pandemic.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s amazing work,” said Smith.

The former administrative professional, Karen Johnson, was promoted to the office manager.

“I do a little bit of everything now,” said Johnson. “This job really challenges you. Working with a nonprofit, it’s small work to do what’s supposed to be part-time, but it really becomes a full-time job.”

Concerned citizens founded the Suffolk Literacy Council in 1987 to address the problem of illiteracy in Suffolk. Its mission is to increase adult literacy within the Suffolk community by connecting individuals to resources that promote lifelong learning. The council does this through tutoring reading, math and English as a second language.

Smith and Johnson are looking to revamp the Suffolk Literacy Council’s programs moving forward. Smith is working on getting everything virtual to continue the opportunities to tutor despite the pandemic. They are currently working on getting laptops and software out for students who do not have the resources to learn virtually.

“The main goal is to reconnect the students with the tutors,” said Smith. “We want to do more sessions and have workbooks for them to do on their own at home.”

Smith wants to look into opening up to more types of literacy projects like reading groups. The Suffolk Literacy Council used to do something similar in the past, but she has hopes to expand upon it.

“DeAnna is on it,” said Johnson. “I am very excited to have her on board. She has a mind that will just blow you away. She is brilliant.”

“I want it also on the record that Karen is also brilliant,” Smith quipped.

Due to the pandemic, the Suffolk Literacy Council lost many of its tutors due to moving or other hurdles, so more volunteer tutors are needed. The council is also open to any new students who want to learn.

To become a volunteer or a student, visit suffolkliteracy.org or contact DeAnna Smith at 757-762-9655 or deanna@suffolkliteracy.org or Karen Johnson at 757-774-6567 or karen@suffolkliteracy.org.