Adult Literacy Students Bloom under Tutelage efforts.(METROPOLITAN)(METROPOLITAN LIFE)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 4, 2002 | Go to article overview

Adult Literacy Students Bloom under Tutelage efforts.(METROPOLITAN)(METROPOLITAN LIFE)


Byline: Adrienne T. Washington, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Josephine Garland, educational program manager and teacher at the Academy of Hope in Columbia Heights, likens her adult learners to new flowers.

"They come to me like a rosebud all closed up, and the more they learn, the more they open and open, and then I say to them, 'Now you are a beautiful rose because you have grown so much,'" she says.

The Academy of Hope is one of dozens of programs supported in part by grants from the D.C. State Education Agency (SEA), which is sponsoring a "Walk for Literacy" on Oct. 12.

SEA's mantra is "if you know, teach. If you don't know, learn." Now more than ever, the ability to read and write is imperative.

SEA is taking learning to the streets to extend a lifeline through its programs that teach basic literacy, English proficiency, computer skills and workplace readiness.

Its second annual Walk for Literacy seeks to raise awareness about the District's literacy needs and collect funds for adult education programs throughout the city, such as "The Transformer." This 37-foot, high-tech Winnebago - equipped with computers, high-definition television and other adult-learning tools - provides Internet access to adult learners who have said that learning to read has transformed their lives.

Of the adult learners served by SEA programs in such locations at the Carlos Rosario School, Covenant House and Even Start at Mary's Center, 62 percent found employment and obtained a general education development or high school diploma, and 85 percent entered post-secondary education or training.

Last year, yours truly was as a guest lecturer in the "Writers and Readers" series at Sisterspace and Books, and I am serving as an honorary committee member for this year's literacy walk.

During the first literacy walk, which raised about $28,000, Anita Wilkins, 31, of Northeast, said she participated because she wanted to give something back to the program that helped her.

She was afraid to engage in conversations or read aloud because she did not know how to use "big words." Before enrolling in SEA classes, Ms. Wilkins would stare at words for a long time, but now she enjoys reading so much she spends a lot of her spare time in Sisterspace and Books at 15th and U streets NW browsing the shelves.

This year, Miss Garland said her students are excited about participating in the upcoming walk.

"Their participation demonstrates their willingness to get involved and shows they are not always begging but putting their own time and dollars in to support the instructional services that they get," said K. …

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