Literacy Council honors top tutor

May 22, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Through the Literacy Council of Carroll County, Donald R. Blais said he found a "productive and effective" outlet for his spare time.

He is teaching another adult to read.

Mr. Blais, an Eldersburg resident and Social Security Administration employee, volunteered 179 hours last year in tutoring his student. For those efforts, the council honored him with its Tutor of the Year award at the annual dinner meeting last week.

"He has devoted himself exclusively to helping an individual learn to read and write," said Marian Carr, council director.

For nearly two years, Mr. Blais, 55, has worked with the same student, who, he said "is anxious to learn and willing to work hard on his own to achieve his goals."

The student's tenacity "has helped make the whole experience rewarding for me," he said.

The pair have "made good progress," according to Mr. Blais. "This guy is going to do it because he really wants to."

Twice a week, the two work together for about 90 minutes. Since they started with the most basic lessons two years ago, they have progressed to the final series offered through the council.

"You don't have to be an English major," Mr. Blais said. "You will recall all the phonics rules you learned years ago."

Mr. Blais said he would recommend the tutoring to "anyone who wants to be of service to other people and who can take the time to prepare."

At home, he spends "a good amount of time" preparing for each tutoring session with the material provided by the council. The instructional aids are "excellent and allow the process to be efficient and relatively simple to follow."

The problem of illiteracy is more widespread than most people know, he said.

"Illiteracy is often hidden, because people who are not effective readers are proficient at keeping it to themselves," he said. "For a variety of reasons, which often have nothing to do with desire or willingness to work hard and learn, many reach adulthood without acquiring reading skills."

Mr. Blais called himself fortunate to be able to help others learn lessons missed in the early years of school.

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