Volunteer tutors help to improve literacy in the state

By Lisa Capobianco

Staff Writer

Dennis Kies of Southington knew he wanted to make a difference when he became a tutor for The Literacy Volunteers of Central Connecticut (LVCC), which provides one-on-one English literacy tutoring to hundreds of adults each year.

As a literacy tutor, Kies meets with a mother who struggles to communicate with her children’s school teachers. Meeting with her once a week for the past three years, Kies said he has seen her confidence to speak English grow. Developing her grammar skills, the student that Kies tutors has become more comfortable making phone calls and engaging in meetings with her children’s teachers at school.

“It makes a big difference in every day life,” said Kies, who added how he has seen his student’s desire to learn. “It is really rewarding.”

Prospective literacy volunteers undergo training sessions to learn teaching techniques for adults looking to learn or improve their English. Upon completion of training in English as a Second Language and/or Basic Literacy, LVCC pairs tutors with at least one student. Tutors meet with students for at least two hours a week.

“It is really fulfilling because you are giving someone the tools they need for daily life,” said Program Assistant Sarah Hudkins. “You help them achieve their goals.”

Lynne Prairie, the associate director, said seeing the one-on-one interactions between tutors and students serve as a “vibrant” experience for her. She recalls the number of achievements the students have made through the tutor program. During Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, LVCC served 458 students, using 199 volunteer tutors. According to the annual report, 93 students obtained/retained employment or started a business, 11 students earned their GED or another diploma, and 261 students increased their involvement in their child’s education. Over 200 students also improved reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. The report stated that 18 percent of students were basic literacy students, and 82 percent were English for Speakers of Other Languages students.

“It is very rewarding,” said Prairie, who has worked at LVCC for 16 years. “Our tutors will tell you how close they have become with students.”

LVCC serves adults age 18 or older from Southington, Plainville, Bristol, New Britain, and other surrounding communities. Anyone interested in becoming a literacy tutor can call Program Assistant Sarah Hudkins at 860-229-7323.

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