Lee County Literacy Council
The Lee County Literacy Council wants to help you and your family learn for life. We improve the reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension of children and adults by trained volunteer tutors who provide research-based literacy instruction in a nurturing environment. < LEARN MORE >
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Keep up to date on the latest news and Information to all students and tutors. Learn about what is the happening in the community and all programs involved with Lee County Literacy Council.
IN THE NEWS:
Literacy council helping children, adults alike
Jan 25, 2018
Ray Hyer, right, assists Tyler Perdew with his vowel sounds at their Thursday tutoring session. Hyer said they have made progress over the duo's 83 meetings.
Matt Monarca | The Sanford Herald
Tyler Perdew wants his driver's license, and the reading portion of the test is the only thing standing in his way.
Perdew has a learning disability, which has impacted his ability to read and write. That’s where Lee County Literacy Council Inc. comes in. The council aims to improve the reading and writing of adults and children through tutoring sessions.
Dr. Ray Hyer, a former teacher, serves as Perdew’s tutor and Thursday’s session marked their 83rd together.
“We’ve made progress. We really have but it’s really tough. It’s really hard,” Hyer said. “This is what you call a learning disability. It’s certain sounds and certain words he has different ways of visualizing and that kind of thing. You’d be surprised. This is a pretty common kind of disability.”
Billie Kay, Perdew’s support worker, accompanies Perdew to the sessions and helps him outside of tutoring. She’s seen the positive effect the progress has had on Perdew’s demeanor.
“His confidence has boosted a lot in the last year too because we’re out in town and before he would say, ‘What does that say? Read it to me.’ she said. “Now he’s just shooting out words, reading signs and reading to me.”
The council is the brainchild of Barbara Yuskevich, who has a background in early childhood education. Yuskevich’s daughter has a learning disability, which has pushed her to help more. This help began with the Augustine Literacy Project (ALP), which assists children who are low income, receive free or reduced lunch or other social services and are 1-2 years behind in reading.
St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Yuskevich and Hyer’s home church, became a ALP replication site in 2011. The program has 11 tutors that assist students each Monday and Wednesday at B.T. Bullock Elementary School.
The council uses the Orton-Gillingham approach in sessions, which is a research-based program used in one-on-one environments. For children and adults, Yuskevich aims for two sessions a week that can be 45-60 minutes. The teaching starts with listening and grasping sounds before finally progressing to writing full sentences.
The idea for an adult arm of the council came when Yuskevich received a call from Project Safe Neighborhoods, an initiative that aims to reduce gun violence in the U.S. Yuskevich learned that these potential offenders couldn’t read or write well enough to fill out a job application or even earn a GED.
Yuskevich referenced a gap that exists between low literacy levels and the community college level. She said Central Carolina Community College would like entrants to be at a sixth-grade level and that the council can help get them there.
The council works through volunteer tutors, such as Hyer, who complete the relevant training in order to begin helping. The training usually lasts one week, runs from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and encompasses how to write lesson plans, carry out the plan and assess the student. Along with 11 student tutors, Yuskevich has three trained adult tutors that can help high school dropouts, offenders on probation, people with learning disabilities and more.
Yuskevich said adults can function without being completely literate, but that they can only go so far in life without a grasp of reading or writing. Bill Horner III, Lee County Education Foundation chairman, has worked with several literacy projects in the past, but described the council as the first group that “really has legs,” particularly through Yuskevich’s work.
“There’s this vacuum that’s been created by people who fall through the cracks because they fail in school for whatever different reasons and we’re stepping into that void to give these people a chance,” Horner said.
Horner said literacy is important from a economic development standpoint, because those who struggle can’t progress through jobs as easily.
“To me, not being able to read is like only being able to see the world in black and white,” Horner said. “You get by, you can survive, but you miss the amazing colors that help make life spectacular.”
For more than 25 years, Horner worked with the Reading is Fundamental of Lee County program, which was shut down two years ago. He decided to divide the remaining funds, about $15,000 total, between the foundation and the council.
The council is still in the beginning stage, particularly in the adult program. There’s a need, with ProLiteracy reporting more than 36 million adults in the U.S. who cannot read, write or do basic math above a third-grade level.
For more information about the program or tutoring, contact the council at 919-708-2178 or visit the website LeeCountyLiteracyNC.org.
Reach Staff Writer Noah Grant at 919-718-1229 and on Twitter at @NoahGrantHerald.
Please join us. We are offering training for the Augustine Literacy Project on August 20 - 24, 2018 from 9am-3pm at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.
312 N. Steele Street, Sanford, NC 27330
The Augustine Project of Sanford trains and supports volunteer tutors who provide free, long term, one-to-one instruction using the Orton-Gillingham approach and Wilson Reading System® materials. Our tutors work with students in the Sanford area.
Sobering US Literacy Facts
• 36 million adults cannot read, write, or do math above 3rd grade level
• Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72% chance of being at the lowest level themselves (poor grades, display behavioral problems, high absentee rates, repeat grades, or drop out)
• 1 in 6 students drop out of high school a year
• 75% of inmates did not complete high school and are classified as low literacy (ProLiteracy®)