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Local literacy council receives $16,000 in grants

November 08, 2004

George Miller, president of the Literacy Council of Washington County, has announced the receipt this year of several significant grants to the organization totaling $16,000.

Contributions from the Community Involvement Team of Citicorp, the Nora Roberts Foundation, the Washington County Gaming Commission, Wal-Mart Supercenter and IBM have made possible the procurement of a laptop computer and two new software programs.

One of those new programs, LiteracyPro Essential, is a database program for keeping track of the council's 142 tutors and their students more efficiently. Another program, Quicken, has been purchased for maintaining the council's financial information.

The council is in the process of establishing a cable Internet connection that greatly will improve communication with both tutors and the public. New board member Marie Boucher is establishing a Web page for general information and announcements of council activities and services, supplementing the Council's quarterly newsletter, Literally Speaking, which is edited by board member Laura Likely and mailed to 343 friends of literacy.

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Frankie Yourgulez-Buhrer, another new tutor and board member, is the liaison between the council and its tutors. Board members Naomi Butler is the council's representative at the Washington County Free Library. Other board members include tutor Lois Dreisbach, secretary, and Lin Clayberg, publicity.

Tom Kline of the Washington County Community Partnership, a new member of the board of directors, has replaced Miller as treasurer of the council.

The council, a tax-exempt organization recognized by ProLiteracy Worldwide, offers two-day tutor-training workshops in the fall and spring. Two other workshops are given in cooperation with the Frederick (Md.) Literacy Council, whose four instructors assist board member and workshop instructor Becky Hein in conducting the workshops held in Hagers-town.

The deadline for registering for the next workshop, scheduled for Nov. 13 and 20, is Nov. 12 at noon. For information and advance registration, call administrator Bill Price at 301-739-4208 from 8:30 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The council office is in Trinity Lutheran Church at the corner of North Potomac Street and Randolph Avenue in Hagerstown. Another local tutor-training workshop will be May 14 and 21, 2005.

Board member Barbara Creager will represent the council at the Northeast Regional Training Seminar, sponsored by ProLiteracy Worldwide, on Dec. 2 and 3 in Coraopolis, Pa.

Events in 2005 include the fourth annual Tutor Appreciation Day in April, for which anyone interested in literacy is encouraged to register in advance. The council is seeking a speaker for that occasion. Reading Day, sponsored by Partners in Literacy, is May 7.

The Literacy Council is cooperating with Sandra Blakeman, Hagerstown Community College's project director of adult education, who is forming a community-wide committee to promote literacy. Despite adding more than 100 tutors and a similar number of adult students over the past several years, the council presently has an additional 20 adults requesting assistance in both basic English and ESL, according to instructor Becky Hein.

The council also uses the Laubach Method to teach basic reading skills to adults for whom English is a second language. One-on-one instruction, generally one hour a week, reflects the council's motto, "Each One Teach One."

The Laubach Method, developed by Frank C. Laubach, an American missionary working in the Philippines in the 1930s, uses phonics and simple word recognition to show functionally illiterate adults how to decipher and recognize the spoken word in its written form, a system that can be adapted to teach many different languages. For information, visit the council library in Room 102 at 15 Randolph Ave.

Council meetings are open to anyone interested in promoting literacy.

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