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Journey to literacy begins with volunteers

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In this December 2013 photo, Joe Collier celebrates his recent completion of a reading course at Read to Succeed in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Collier has been tutored by volunteers at the nonprofit organization. (Photo submitted)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- JoJo Collier came to Read To Succeed reading at a first-grade reading level.

He had graduated from high school with a certificate of attendance, being unable to read well enough to pass mainstream classes and exams.

He heard about the programs offered by Read to Succeed, which provides one-on-one tutoring for adults who live and work in Rutherford County, and decided to give it a try.

JoJo was placed with a tutor, and we hoped he would make progress. Everyone learns and improves at different rates, so it is hard to judge how quickly someone might be able to reach their personal goals.

JoJo’s goal was pretty simple: He just wanted to be able to read simple books.

Read To Succeed, a nonprofit organization, provides materials to tutors and they prepare lessons, but JoJo had purchased a series of books online that he felt would be helpful for him.

He had gone to the library every week to get a stack of books to read with his tutor. He had even made flashcards.

JoJo was determined.

When I sat down with JoJo and his tutor a few weeks ago, his tutor presented a beautiful certificate stating he had read 146 books this year.

“I like to read,” JoJo said, “It’s fun.”

His tutor proudly showed me his practice sentences and the progress that he had made, noting, “His sentences are getting longer and more creative.”

“I can tell that he’s reading a lot because he uses it in his sentences,” the tutor said, adding he comes for tutoring every week and is very dedicated.

“I like meeting here,” JoJo said. “Learning to read helps. It’s a good goal to learn to read.”

If that weren’t enough, JoJo also is very active at Greenhouse Ministries.

“If everyone worked as hard as JoJo, the reading of our county would rise,” said Cliff Sharp, executive director of Greenhouse Ministries. “I do not think we ever had a more dedicated person who wanted to learn to read.”

When he realized that recognizing symbols like Coca-Cola or Pepsi was reading, it was a great day for him, Sharp said.

“JoJo has volunteered several times at Greenhouse but since improving his reading skills, he’s gotten a job,” Sharp said. “JoJo is currently reading around a fourth-grade level.

“He’s still working diligently with his tutor and continues to improve.”

If you are interested in tutoring someone  like JoJo, come to our tutor training classes on Monday, Feb. 3, and Monday, Feb. 10.

Each class will be held from 6 p.m. till 8 p.m. at the Lon Nuell Literacy Center at First Baptist Church, located at 200 E. Main St. in downtown Murfreesboro.

All participants are asked to register for the class by calling 615-738-7323.

For more information about Read to Succeed and its literacy programs, visit www.readtosucceed.org.

Shelly Stanley is the adult literacy coordinator for Read to Succeed. She can be reached at adultliteracy@readtosucceed.org.

Tagged under  Education, Literacy, Murfreesboro, Nonprofit, Read to Succeed, Reading

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