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Literacy Council Provides Free Lessons for Illiterate

According to the 2000 Census, more than 55,000 adults in Greene County are considered to be illiterate. The Ozarks Literacy Council provides free one-on-one tutoring sessions for adults in hopes of reducing that number. KSMU’s Matt Evans has more.

Since 1968, the Ozarks Literacy Council has been aiding adults who can neither read nor write. More than 40,000 of the adults in Greene County can not read well enough to fill out a job application, read a food label, or read street signs. Last year, the Ozarks Literacy Council helped 200 adults learn how to read and write. Nicole Thom-Ares is the program director for the Ozarks Literacy Council.

“The scary thing for me is there are 40,000 individuals in Greene County who don’t know how to read well enough to read a medication bottle.”

Thom-Ares says many adults come into the Ozarks Literacy Council with little or no understanding of the alphabet.

“Those are pretty high functioning individuals in society and they’re coming in at 40 or 50 years old and you know that they’ve gone their entire life just hiding the fact that they can not read.”

After a tutor is matched up with a learner, the pair will meet once a week for one hour until the learner’s goals are met.

18-year-old Paige and her tutor Jonna meet every Tuesday in the Library Center on South Campbell.

Paige was home schooled by her grandmother until she was nine years old. Then, her grandmother passed away and Paige lost interest in her education. In September of 2008, Paige came to Springfield to live with her mom.

“Well it was kind of both. I needed to get into school and her being a parent said we need to do this and we need to get everything. So it was like we’re going to do this so she called up there and got everything ready.”

But Paige ended up not going to public school. Now she says she understands the value of education and is working to get her GED. Paige’s tutor, Jonna, is an administrative assistant at Drury University.

“I really like doing it and I guess I wanted to sign up because I just felt like I was in the position where I could donate some of my time and help somebody else out and thought it would be a good thing to do.”

Jonna and Paige have been working together for six months and plan on continuing the lessons until Paige’s sessions are complete.

She hopes to one day be able to read books and practice as a beautician.

For KSMU News, I’m Matt Evans.