Reading tutors toasted by Literacy Program |

Reading tutors toasted by Literacy Program

Sarah Dixon

The 100-plus volunteers who make the Eagle Valley Literacy Project a reality were recognized February 19 for their work with the program.

“Without the dedication of the volunteers, this program wouldn’t be nearly so strong,” said Literacy Project Executive Director Colleen Gray.

The Literacy Project is a nonprofit organization that provides free tutoring to functionally illiterate adults by training volunteers to be tutors. The program has a diverse student body that included entire families as well as individual foreigners learning English as a second language.

Volunteer Matt Bianchetto says that his two months with the program have been extremely rewarding.

“I got into the program because I had lots of people telling me I would be a good teacher,” said Bianchetto. “I thought I would try it out. Sometimes it’s challenging to encourage the students to come up with the answers themselves, not to give them answers. But it’s so rewarding.”

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Eight-year veteran volunteer Jane Imber says that the one-on-one attention given each student during the tutoring sessions is the heart of the successful program.

“These kids are so hungry for this kind of attention,” said Imber. “A lot of the students come from homes where the parents work two jobs, and they really respond to this kind of help.”

Imber spent years organizing fund-raising luncheons in the valley before she became involved in the Literacy Project.

“I was just tired of raising all that money and having so little contact with the individuals it was going to help,” she said. “It’s so nice to have this time to spend with these children in need. And when they do well, it is really wonderful.”

Imber said local libraries are terrific venues for the tutoring.

“When you’re working with a student and they express interest in another topic, you can run to that section of the stacks, pull out a book and show them more,” she said. “It really expands their interest in reading.”

Jim Slevin, another volunteers, said the program helps adults succeed in the valley.

“It’s very important for foreigners living and working here to learn our language, and it’s very important that we teach them,” said Slevin. “It gives them such a broader experience, and a chance to do more, like get a decent job.”

Yves Masson, who teaches literacy-enriching arts to children while their parents are in tutoring sessions, says his young show astounding promise.

“I had one 4-year-old girl in my class, cuter than a button,” Masson said with a wistful smile. “We were drawing penguins. I looked at her painting, and sure enough, she had drawn a real-looking penguin.”

Literacy Project board member Carolyn Cage and her husband Gary hosted the event in their Beaver Creek home. Near blizzard-like conditions and closed roads stopped no one from attending the annual celebration of the program’s volunteers. The only concern voiced by the jovial crowd could be heard repeated time and again.

“Hey Carolyn – I hope you have enough wine.”

For more information about the Literacy Project, contact the Avon office at 949-5026.

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