Literacy volunteer logs 400 hours

May 29, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Despite an accident that limited her mobility, Jeane T. "Jeanie" Shiflett, the Literacy Council of Carroll County's Volunteer of the Year, gave more than 400 hours to helping adults learn to read and write.

Ms. Shiflett, on crutches and recovering from a fractured leg, said she is thoroughly committed to "the need to work one-on-one with students to help them experience life as a reader and writer."

"Literacy is an extension of my life," she said. "It is both my vocation and my hobby."

Marian Carr, the council's director, takes a breath as she lists Ms. Shiflett's accomplishments during the past year.

"She tutored two students, joined a training team and helped establish a student support group with whom she meets regularly," said Ms. Carr.

The Literacy Council provides tutors and reading and writing programs for adults.

Ms. Shiflett, an educator who has experience teaching school children and organizing training programs, said she has the "background, training, rapport and sensitivity" to teach reading to people of all ages.

Still, she said, she had always wondered whether her teaching experiences with children would translate to tutoring adults. She enrolled in a council workshop a year ago and has been singing the group's praises ever since.

"There is so much heart in the Literacy Council," she said.

Ms. Shiflett, the mother of two grown daughters, has trained other tutors for the council and said that most people can learn to teach basic reading and writing skills.

"The training takes time, because you are taking people who are not educators and making them responsible for helping others read," she said.

"The council is sensitive in matching student to tutor according to the student's skills and the tutor's ability.

"With the council's help, you can do everything to help your student accomplish his needs."

She encourages anyone with the time and willingness to volunteer for Literacy Council work.

"It is heartbreaking when somebody finally gets the courage to call the council and there is no volunteer to teach him," she said. "Volunteering means you have an impact and will make a difference in somebody's life."

Ms. Shiflett also initiated Friendship Group, a student support program, which meets monthly.

"Our basic purpose in the group is to enrich students in any way we can," she said. "There are no labels. We are not tutors and students, just friends talking to each other."

Illiteracy is "more with us than any of us realize."

Nearly one in three Americans are without adequate literacy skills, she said.

"People graduate and can't read their diplomas," she said. "We have the skills, but haven't solved the problem of how to teach the population to read."

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