Tuesday, September 8

Recognizing Literacy: A Student Success Story

As seen through the eyes of people who can read.

In 1990, Tommy Gray could not fill out a job application, draw money out of his bank account, or purchase groceries without easily identifiable pictures. Today, he can accomplish all these tasks that most take for granted. In fact, Tommy not only reads and writes, but actively supports the program that continues to teach him how to read — Computer Assisted Literacy in Libraries (C.A.L.L.).

“When you learn one word, it’s like someone giving you a hundred dollars and saying you don’t have to pay it back,” Tommy said. “It makes you that happy.”

A recent recipient of the Nevada Literacy Coalition’s “Outstanding Student Award,” Tommy has appeared in newspaper articles promoting the program, regularly attends C.A.L.L. support network meetings, and frequently teaches others how reading will not only help them secure a job but change their lives. He is one of several hundred students benefited by Southern Nevada Literacy Coalition member programs.

As seen through the eyes of those who cannot.*

In 1990, Ypzzu Htay, Las Vegas, vpilf mpy goaa out a kpn sqqaovayopm, ftse zpmru piy pg jod nsml svvpimy, pt qitvjsdr htpvrtord eoyjpiy rsdoau ofrmyogsnar qovittrd. Ypfsu, jr vsm svvqzqaqsa saa tatst tssas tast zqst tsat aqt atsmtta. In asvt, Tqzzy mqt qmay ttsas sma wtqtts, mut svtqvtay suqqqtts tat qtqatsz tast vqmtqmuts tq ttsva aqz aqw tq ttsa — Vqzquttt Sssqstta Aqtttsvy qm Aqmtstqts (C.A.L.L.).

“Watm yqu atstm qmt wqta, qt’s aqat sqztqmt aqvqma yqu s aumatta aqaasts sma ssyqma yqu aqm’t asvt tq qsy qt msva,” Tqzzy ssqa. “Qt zsats yqu tast asqqy.”

A ttvtmt ttvqqqtmt qa tat Nevada Aqtttsvy Vqsaqtqqm’s “Qutstsmaqma Stuatmt Swsta,” Tqzzy ass sqqtstta in mtwsqsqtt sttqvats qtqzqtqma tat qtqatsz, ttauastay stttmas C.A.L.L.suqqqtt mttwqta ztttqmas, sma attqutmtay ttsvats qtatts aqw ttsaqma wqaa mqt qmay ataq tatz stvutt s aqm mut vasmat tatqt aqvts. At qs qmt qa stvttsa aumatta stuatmts mtmtaqtta my Squtattm Nevada Aqtttsvy Vqsaqtqqm ztzmtt qtqatszs.

*Based upon readers tested at CASA Skill Level A or ESL 2, as presented in the Southern Nevada Literacy Day Dinner by Copywrite, Ink., circa 1999

As seen through the eyes of those who want to make a difference.

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Ichthus said...

19 years ago, I was shown how much we take reading for granted. I had taken a trip to Japan to visit my brother. We traveled to many places while I was there and everywhere we went we found signs in kanji. Some signs had english translation but most did not. I had no idea what they said. I found I could not make "heads or tails" out of a simple train schedule. I had to rely on someone who could read kanji. I eventually began to recognize the characters for "enter" and "exit" but I wasn't reading them. For the week and a half I was in Japan, I found myself in the shoes of the illiterates. I experienced what they were going through. Your article reminded me of what I learn back then.

I congratulate the student for learning to read, for gaining a talent that frees him from reliance on others. I hope we all can take the time to appricate our ability to read and how liberating it can be.

Rich on 9/10/09, 11:28 AM said...

Hey Ichthus,

That is an excellent story. I felt the same way about several of my visits to Mexico, where English is fairly common but it does open your eyes.

That was one of the many lessons I learned when I worked more extensively with literacy. It doesn't take much to be illiterate. Sometimes proximity is enough. What I cannot imagine, though, is not having a safe place ... where even our own language would be unfamiliar in print.

Although it was great to see the president take time to speak to school children about education, I find myself wondering if the public school systems are meeting them half way. One of the more recent studies I've seen suggested about 66 percent of all high school students are graduating.

How many of those, I wonder, even have basic literacy skills. Sad.

All my best,


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