News & Blog

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Guest blogger: Kaylee Moreno, MSW, Director of the Community Literacy Initiative

I firmly believe that leadership and professional development are lifelong pursuits. After graduating from Ferris State University in 2014 with a BA in Social Work and from the University of Michigan in 2015 with my MS in Social Work, I began my position as the Director of the Community Literacy Initiative at the Literacy Center of West Michigan last August. I’ll admit that I wasn’t completely ready to leave the classroom for the working world, so I spent one Saturday each month participating in the Latino Talent Initiative through Ferris State University. I worked with a cohort of 16 other rising Latin@ leaders in our community on cultural awareness, professional development, leadership development, and civic engagement.

Antonia has had trouble with spelling/decoding spelling patterns, and there are street signs near her house she never felt confident saying correctly. After a lesson on vowel teams, she was talking about these streets and she realized she could use what she learned in a lesson on vowel teams and pronounced them correctly.

Beacon - say the name of e and the a is silent.

She said she knows how she was saying them wrong before and now she knows she'll be understood when she gives directions.

Written by Christy Dam, class instructor

My name is Silvia Guzman and I am from Mexico. I'm married and have five children. Three are living with me and two are in Mexico.

When I came to the Literacy Center I set for myself three major goals:

  1. To obtain the skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking/conversation in English.
  2. To become a United States citizen.
  3. To obtain my driver's license.

On March 29, 2016 I took my citizenship test, passed it and was sworn in as a US citizen. My tutor has worked with me for two years on this, thank-you. At the present time my tutor & I are working on obtaining a driver's license.

My son takes me out to practice on the road and my tutor helps me with the laws and identification of road signs.

After I had my interview with the Literacy Center and I was paired up with my tutor, my family life changed. My son was here just five weeks from Mexico; he had a terrible accident in Lake Michigan. He broke his neck and is paralyzed from the neck down. He spent several days in a hospital than to Mary Free Bed Hospital for several weeks. When I was up at the hospital, I needed to listen, speak and understand what those doctors were saying.

Now that he is at home, someone must be with him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I am thankful for my tutor, Michelle who meets with me every Saturday morning for two hours or more.

Some of the extra things Michelle brings to our time together are: talking on the telephone with a salesman, reading aloud and having it recorded, than listen to see if you can understand it, reading the Michigan map, reading the mileage from city to city, finding a city, finding Michelle's vacation spot and how many miles did Michelle travel in Michigan. Sometimes we go out for lunch and coffee and always practice conversation. I went shopping and used coupons for the first time. I went to the farmers market and saw fruits & vegetables that I didn't know what they were.I bought a squash fixed it for my family and it was delicious.

Thank-you to the Literacy Center. Thank-you Michelle for your patience and time you have given me, I am thankful.

spellebration logo cl min2

Spellebration 2016 celebrated the community's efforts to bring about a just and vibrant West Michigan through the power of literacy. We were pleased to honor Mr. John C. Kennedy as the Fifth Third Bank Champion of Literacy, Ms. Carol Paine-McGovern with the Ledy Award for Community Engagement, and Ms. Alice Apol as the Marshall Pitler Volunteer of the Year Award.

Hello, my name is Alejandra and I am 38 years old, I am from Mexico city. I have been in the U.S. for almost 16 years. I’m a mom of three girls, my husband and I work full time to afford everything for our family. I’ve worked at McDonald's for 15 years. I'm a crew trainer and it started getting hard to do my job better because my English was not very good.

I have tried to take classes in other places, I even took some in my daughter's school but they were too easy. Then I tried many other places as well but in many they said I didn’t have the requirements needed to take the classes.

The Literacy Center recently published our fiscal year 2015 Annual Report and Newsletter.

Mr. John C. Kennedy, President/CEO of Autocam Medical, is known as a creative and savvy businessman who often works alongside national business leaders and elected officials. Yet there is one other thing that everyone knows about Mr. Kennedy: he has a deeply personal passion for literacy as it relates to equity.

Excerpts from an interview with Alice Apol, the Literacy Center’s longest serving tutor and the recipient of this year’s Marshall Pitler Volunteer of the Year Award

From Fall 2015 Reader

“One learner that I worked with for a long period of time was Margaret Ortega. She still calls me now and we go out for lunch every once in a while. She became very proficient. In fact, when she took the last test, she tested right out of the program! She said, ‘I wish I had known that, I would have answered more questions wrong!”

For tutoring, “I think relationship-building is very important, especially in the beginning. Asking them a little bit about their lives, so they feel comfortable knowing that you’re interested in them as a person. And then each week we have a quick conversation about our weeks.”

Click here to read the full issue.

Nancy VanIngen, Program Assistant at the Literacy Center, celebrated her 25th Anniversary with the organization in May. Katy Payne talked with her about her experience.

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