The following article was submitted by MPL's One-to-One Literacy Coordinator & Homebound Services Associate, Margo Meyer.
What if I told you an opportunity exists within our community where you could make a difference in the lives of adults who want to improve their literacy skills? And what if this opportunity was flexible? It would be an opportunity built around your schedule! How often does that happen?
The One-to-One Adult Literacy Program at Manitowoc Public Library is in place to help English-Language learners and those struggling with basic reading skills improve their ability to interact in the community and better their employment opportunities.
Does this pique your interest?
Maybe you’re wondering if you need a background in teaching to volunteer. The answer to that questions is a firm “No!” We offer free tutor training to get you started on the right foot. We also pair each new volunteer with an experienced tutor that acts as a mentor, which is very helpful. Optional tutor meetings throughout the year allow for an opportunity to network and chat with fellow volunteers, as well as learn about resources, teaching tips, and information relevant to everyone in our program. In addition, I’m available here at the Library to field questions, search for material, and research ideas for you to use with your learner.
We also provide all of the tutor and student books for free. And should your learner’s goal be to work toward citizenship, we have specific materials to help study for the test. Our Library is fortunate to have an abundance of material in the Literacy Office for you to utilize and I’m always happy to guide you to the right resources.
Perhaps your next question is “Exactly what might I be helping someone with in a tutoring session?” Our hard working learners have individualized goals. Goals such as increasing vocabulary and working on pronunciation, learning how to fill out a job application, or improving reading skills to be able to read bedtime stories to children or grandchildren. Some of our learners want help preparing for the written driver’s license test, speaking better English in to help with basics like shopping, banking or doctor appointments. Some need individualized support while working toward a GED or post-secondary course.
So, even though the program is goal-oriented, it’s also flexible? Yes! You would be matched with a learner who has the same schedule availability. We typically look for a commitment of 1.5 to 2 hours per week. However, we know that travel, family commitments, and life, in general, will sometimes come into play. We understand that schedules can sometimes be unpredictable, so, we’re flexible.
In case you wondering what the best part of tutoring was, that’s an easy one. Our volunteers frequently comment that seeing their learners’ commitment and enthusiasm in wanting to improve is extremely rewarding and motivating. I’ve watched tutors experience excitement when their students achieve a goal and witnessed learners feeling proud of their hard work as they grow in skills and confidence. It’s truly amazing to make a meaningful and far-reaching impact by helping others acquire the English skills they need to succeed at work, school, home, and in our community.
Only one question truly remains: when can you get started? Our next tutor training session is coming up on Saturday, January 28, here at Manitowoc Public Library. If you’d like to sign up, simply submit the brief form found at www.manitowoclibrary.org/support/volunteer/application. You can also contact me. I’m Margo Meyer, the One-to-One Adult Literacy coordinator. You can call me directly at 920-686-3026 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the process or we can set up a time for you to observe a tutoring session. We’d love to see you join in the rewarding pursuit of sharing literacy!
And, as we tell all of our volunteers, you don’t need to be perfect to be a great tutor—just be willing to show up, remember to laugh along the way, and ask for help when needed.