Adult literacy program ready for more students, tutors

Cherry Trese, the former president of Literacy for Adults in Brevard, hosted a lesson planning workshop for new tutors May 8 at the Catherine Schweinsberg Rood Central Library. Trese was a Brevard Public Schools teacher for most of her career before becoming a principal.

A free program known as Literacy for Adults in Brevard is seeking students and volunteer tutors.

LAB provides trained tutors to meet weekly with adult students in public libraries to teach literacy skills.

“COVID was really mean to us,” LAB president Vicki Dunn said. “A lot of our tutors are retired folks, and everybody was isolated. Now, our challenge is to regroup our students.”

Since 1971, the organization has helped residents qualify for jobs, work toward citizenship requirements and improve the quality of their reading and writing skills.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the U.S. literacy rate steadily increases every year. However, 21 percent of Americans remain illiterate in 2021.

Dunn said that most students in the program come from English-speaking homes, although some are learning English as a second language.

Volunteer tutors for LAB come from all walks of life. Tutors don’t need a background in education to be eligible to teach.

“Our teachers only need a love for the language,” Dunn said. “To help somebody change their life, it changes you, too.”

Palm Bay resident Sherry Flowers didn’t confront her learning disability until she was in her late 20s. Flowers was able to hide her struggle to read until having to complete a self-evaluation in front of her boss. She needed help filling it out and had to confess to her long-term employer that she couldn’t read.

She hoped her boss would understand, but he did not award her the raise she was after. Flowers was devastated and decided to finally

get help.

She heard an ad on the radio for LAB and nervously made a call that would change her life.

“Meeting with the staff for the first time was very scary, but this would be the best thing I did for myself,” Flowers said. “When you have a teacher that cares, you feel it, and you start to believe in yourself, too.”

Flowers worked one-on-one with a tutor for more than a year until she learned how to proficiently read and write. She then gained the confidence she needed to find a higher-paying job at a new company.

“I did this program to catch up in life. And now, I can say I do all my reading and test-taking by myself,” Flowers said. “And now I live to learn for fun.”

To volunteer or participate in Literacy for Adults in Brevard, call 321-301-4496 or visit literacyforadultsinbrevard.org.