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Education Matters: The Literacy Council

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Imagine not being able to read a prescription bottle, or a note sent home from your child’s school.  Illiteracy is a reality in more households than you may think.  But, a local organization is working to change that because Education Matters.

Cynthia Foster became determined to continue her education when she missed out on an important job opportunity, because she didn’t have a GED.

“I said, I wasn’t going to never let another job pass me by,” said Foster.  “The lady asked if I had a high school diploma and I told her ‘no, I did not.’ It’s time for me to get my GED because my kids are all grown.  It’s time.”

Her journey took her to the Literacy Council.  The organization provides one-on-one tutoring for those who need help with basic reading and writing skills.  The agency serves Winnebago, Boone, and Ogle counties.

“There are 44,000 people that have low-level reading skills,” said Sheryl Thogerson, Executive Director for the Literacy Council.  “So, that certainly affects their employability.  It affects their families [and] their lifestyle.  So, that’s why it’s really important that we get them up to speed in their reading.”

That is made possible with the help of volunteer tutors like Beth Kane.  Kane has worked with learners at all different reading levels.  She’s most proud of the work she did with one student she called a, “challenge.”

“He came here not even knowing his ABCs and he was in his mid-20s,” said Kane.  “We worked on the ABCs… over and over again and finally we succeeded.  Then, we could read and he started reading rather quickly once we got the letters in order.”

The Literacy Council is seeking more volunteers to help adults who are looking for a brighter future.

“We have a wait list of over 60 adults waiting to get paired with a tutor right now,” said Erin Welker, Coordinator for the group.

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