Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Many Adults Can't Read This ; Literacy Center Seeks Tutors for Reading, Writing, Comprehension

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Many Adults Can't Read This ; Literacy Center Seeks Tutors for Reading, Writing, Comprehension

Article excerpt

Darrell Murray, 58, stood alongside Riverside Drive in Evansville during rush hour Tuesday evening holding a sign that he could not have read two and a half years ago. Ashamed that he couldn't read, Murray spent most of his life tricking other people into thinking he could. But the truth was he couldn't even read a sign advertising literacy help.

Murray was one of the 30 million American adults who are functionally illiterate, able only to read on a third-grade level and unable to read and comprehend a newspaper.

He was able to keep his secret all those years, but when his job changed, he knew it was only a matter of time until his lifelong secret was outed. On a trip with a family member to Dollar General he saw a sign with a picture of a woman reading a book. He asked what the sign said. It advertised the Literacy Center, which helps adults learn basic reading, writing and comprehension skills.

Murray swallowed his pride and made the call. In April 2011, he began a new chapter of his life, one that has made a profound impact on his life.

It wasn't long after he started attending weekly tutoring sessions that he decided he would no longer be silent. He would let the world know he couldn't read in hopes of helping others like him. That is the reason Murray stood along Riverside Drive with three employees of The Literacy Center holding signs and reading books to passers-by to promote Adult Education and Family Literacy Week.

The Literacy Center in Evansville, opened in 1966, has helped thousands of people over the last 47 years and is on track to serve 100 people this year. Jennifer Wigginton, the center's executive director, says the hardest part for individuals needing help is taking the first step to call the center. After that, individuals are asked to come in for an interview and assessment to determine their reading level as well as any learning disabilities that may factor into how they learn.

Once that is complete, the students must complete 12 hours in the computer lab. They are then paired with a tutor who will meet with them several times a week to help them achieve their individual goals.

"On average it takes 100 hours of instruction to reach a level gain. When you think of it in those terms, the average student comes in reading at a third-grade level; if they meet for two hours a week it will take a year until they are able to read at a fourth- grade level," Wigginton said. "To get your GED it is recommended that a student is reading at least a ninth-grade level."

Wigginton said Murray is the exception. He came in reading at a third-grade level in 2011, but decided he would meet with his tutor at least 4 hours per week and study hard to advance and reach his goals sooner. …

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