Thursday, August 1, 2002

Hemet Library - Tutors teach adults ABCs

Tutors teach adults ABCs:
Anyone, including children, can get free assistance in reading and math at the library.
Press-Enterprise: July 2, 2002 by Marilee Reyes

When Ernie Acosta was laid off from her job more than three months ago, she discovered that job hunting held an almost insurmountable challenge for her.

She had a problem filling out job applications because she had difficulty reading.

"I don't spell very well, and I mix up my letters. They get reversed," Acosta said, describing a symptom of dyslexia.

She experienced the reading problem all the way through school but it was never addressed, so she was advanced every year along with her classmates. Being a nonreader wasn't a problem with the job she'd held for many years, but when she realized that her inability to read was inhibiting her search for a new job, she decided she'd better get some help.

Acosta's daughters suggested she check with the library for information about tutoring. She called the Hemet Public Library and was told about the library's free adult tutoring program.

That was three months ago.

When Acosta started the program she was matched with volunteer tutor Elaine Twamley. She's been working with Twamley and has reached the level where she's checking adult books out of the library for recreational reading.

"She has brought up her reading three grade levels in three months," Twamley said. "It's phenomenal."

Acosta smiled at Twamley's words. "Now I read for fun, too."

Twamley, too, has been rewarded.

"Like any good volunteer program, the volunteers achieve as much as those they help. We get to see life-transforming events. Once a person can read at an adult level, they can participate more fully in life," she said.

Robert Kriesten, who started volunteering 11 years ago after he retired, echoed Twamley's thoughts.

He'd had no experience teaching, but says he has discovered a knack for it and teaches math to small groups.

"I sometimes get tired and ask myself why I'm doing it. Then when I get there and see how they are learning, there's my answer. I know why I'm doing it."

Doris Anderson has been a volunteer tutor for 15 years. "I saw the need and thought this was something I could do to help. I'm kind of proud. One of my first students was able to get their GED and is now a driver for the RTA."

Twamley, Kriesten, Anderson and Dorothy McCann were present at a tutor/learner awards ceremony at the James Simpson Senior Center in Hemet last week.

Lori Eastman, literacy supervisor at the Hemet Public Library, coordinated the ceremony. She praised the tutors and learners for their hard work. Thirty learners and 27 tutors received certificates.

Receiving special recognition for tutoring were Kriesten with 11 years of volunteering, Anderson with 15 years and McCann, 17 years. Kriesten and Terry Oxenham were also honored as math tutors and Gloria Prieto was recognized for her support of the Families for Literacy program, which involves children and adults.

For information about the Hemet Library literacy programs, call the library at (909) 765-3856. All tutoring programs are free.