Living Columns & Blogs

Mid-State Literacy Council gives adults the skills they need

Adults who seek help from Mid-State Literacy Council have goals of obtaining employment, accessing health care and ensuring that their children grow up to be good readers. Since the inception of Mid-State Literacy Council in 1971, more than 14,000 low literate community members have increased their reading, writing, math, computer and English skills. Their new skills allowed them to gain employment, access health care and provide for their families.

“Our students and tutors are an integral part of our community — through Mid-State, they can come together, learn from each other and build relationships that make this a better place to live overall," ESL program coordinator Tracy Roth said. "I have the opportunity to hear about all the ways that tutors are helping their students — from understanding forms from their child's school or knowing how to ask questions about day care programs, to learning about health insurance plans or applying for citizenship, there are so many accomplishments they are achieving everyday."

Adults with low literacy who are seeking employment have challenges. They need to learn workplace vocabulary to understand employers and co-workers. To communicate with a team, they learn words including: regulate, implement, delegate, utilize, propose and surpass. Because most jobs require applicants to apply using technology, volunteer tutors also teach basic computer skills. Adults participating in our Workplace English classes practice and learn to handle phone interviews which are often part of the initial process of obtaining employment. Their new literacy skills lead to new jobs.

We train volunteer tutors to teach, and they provide instructional opportunities morning, afternoon and evening. Tutors include health literacy as they teach reading skills to help learners read medication instructions and dose their children correctly. By learning about nutrition, prenatal care, mental health, diabetes and other health issues, they become prepared to use their literacy skills leading to better health.

Staff member Karen Loerch said that Mid-State not only promotes adult literacy, but also encourages summer reading for children.

"Many children lose quite a bit of their learning during the summer, often referred to as the 'summer slide,' " she said.

My advice is read aloud to your children, help your child acquire a library card, and ask your child about the book they are reading. Turn the television off and have a scheduled quiet reading time every day. If you are not one, become a reader yourself and model what an engrossed, captivated reader looks like.”

Thank you to our volunteers, financial supporters and Board of Directors for being literacy ambassadors.

Amy Wilson is the director of Mid-State Literacy Council. She can be reached at 238-1809 or by email at Learn more at Mid-State Literacy Council is a Centre County United Way Partner Agency.