Literacy Networking

Arlene Devers, Executive Director for Stillwater Literacy Council

1. Can you share a personal story or experience that has had a significant impact on your commitment to adult literacy?

I will always remember the young man from Iraq who came to Thank me for helping him learn English. When he had to return home, he gave me a wooden angel to keep me safe when leaving our program. He returned home to his country and was killed six months later in the war. The angel means so much to me and encourages me to continue helping our ESL students.

2. How do you personally stay motivated and engaged in your work, especially during challenging times?

I was a teacher for 35 years; this job helps me keep in the educational field that I so love.

Each new enrollment is a new challenge to pair a student with the best tutor. I enjoy hearing the success stories the students have from the tutors and the students praises they tell me.

It is always a pleasure to achieve a grant for the Literacy Council and extend our opportunities in helping others improve their reading and speaking skills.

3. Can you describe the specific programs and services your organization offers to support adult learners and promote literacy skills (i.e., ESL, Literacy, Citizenship, HSE, Digital, Health, and how they are delivered, i.e., one-on-one, small groups, classes)?

The purpose of the Council is to promote literacy awareness, and to provide free tutoring to adults aged 18 or older in basic literacy skills and English as a second language (ESL). Our goal is to prepare individuals for meaningful engagement. with their community, their family, and their workplace. With this, our tutoring not only covers such areas as reading, writing, spelling, and speaking, but also includes digital and interdisciplinary literacies and may address family, financial, health, and workplace literacy and competencies. We teach most of our students in a one-on0one teaching session. A few of our tutors will tutor two students at once. We do not have large group classes any longer.  Finding a tutor to do this is a challenge.

4. Could you share a specific success story of an adult learner who has gone through your program and achieved significant

We enrolled a man from Cuba, he was an English teacher there. He wanted to improve his  English. He had started working at OSU as an assistant professor. He went on to be an English Professor at Langston University. He studied with his tutor for three years.

We had a woman from Thailand, she was a doctor in her country. She came to us to improve her English and acquire help applying at OU to achieve being a doctor in the United States. She is now finishing at OU and plans to return to Stillwater to practice here.

5. What is your most effective method to recruit new students?

Stillwater Literacy Council’s website and pamphlets. We hand out at meetings on campus and various places in Stillwater. Word of mouth from students and former students has brought many students into our office for literacy services. The ELI department at OSU refers students to our agency. Meridian Technology Center refer Basic Literacy students to our agency to help with reading problems. The Stillwater Public Library, where our office is housed, refers students to our agency for help in reading and improvement in speaking English.

6. How do you keep your current students engaged so that they keep attending classes?

Keeping in touch with students every three months, making sure they have everything they need in learning materials and are pleased with the tutor assigned to them.

Making sure tutors meet on a regular schedule with their students weekly.

Offering teaching materials free to students they ask to learn from. Keeping our tutors trained in new ideas through webinars. We have a yearly award ceremony presenting certificates of achievements and a book of student’s choice about Oklahoma. The students enjoy meeting each other and bringing their family to the ceremony to meet their tutor.

If you haven't yet, please take a few minutes and answer the questions above so that we can add your information. You can answer them as a form here.

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