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Library literacy program growing

July 2, 2012

Volunteer tutors meet for training at the Plymouth Public Library. From left: Tutor trainer Mark VanLummel, from the Elkhart Public Library, Ron McAllister, and Marie Andrzejewski.

PLYMOUTH — Since October 2011, a small group of tutors and students have been working toward increasing literacy at the Plymouth Public Library. The library hosts a one-on-one tutoring program, where volunteer tutors meet with their students according to each person's individual needs. The program is growing, said coordinator and librarian Debbie Beck, as adults realize that they need added reading and writing skills in order to get better jobs.
"We are expanding (the program) into all of the areas that people are struggling with or needing help with," said Beck, adding that with the recent closing of Heart and Hands, students are asking for English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship classes.
"People come (to the classes) to get a better job, or to read at a higher level," said Beck. "We have to get people up to a fourth grade reading level before they can go over to the high school and take GED classes. Sometimes people come to us at a first or second grade reading level."
Arrow Services, Inc. in Plymouth recently donated to the literacy program as part of their interest in giving back to the community.
"Arrow called and asked about our needs, especially about something having to do with reading," said Beck. "Our goal is to have enough support (for the literacy program that it doesn't cost anything for the student or the tutor."
The program was initially started with the William Laramore fund. Money is needed to pay for books and training materials for the tutors. The curriculum used gives tutors different ideas on teaching based on the different learning styles of students.
"We are trying to make sure we bring in student's interests so they enjoy it and want to learn more," said Beck.
She said that the average age of student is between 35 and 40 years old. Although some may have an acceptable reading level, they might need to work on other things like grammar.
"You can be born and raised in America, and still struggle with the English language," pointed out Beck. "We are very grateful for the community support."

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