NEW HAVEN — Nearly one-fourth of adults in Mason County have difficulty performing everyday tasks due to poor reading skills, according to information on the West Virginia Department of Education website.
A ministry in the Bend Area is hoping to improve those statistics, however, by beginning an adult reading program.
Jacob’s Well Ministries Inc. will host a Literacy West Virginia Volunteer Tutor Training on Sept. 11-12 for anyone interested in helping adults improve their reading skills. The training will be at the New Haven Library, located at 106 Main St., New Haven.
Those wishing to be tutors must attend both days of training. Friday’s session will be 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., with a light dinner being served. On Saturday, training will go from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with lunch provided.
Pam Young, a regional assistant with Literacy West Virginia, will be teaching the class. Young said a lot of information will be presented, including how to teach vocabulary, comprehension, phonics and fluency. Tutors will be taught different tools to use and how to determine which ones will work on an individual student. In addition, information will be given about a student’s confidentiality and sensitivity.
Young said many of the older students attending adult literacy programs have learning disabilities that were never identified.
“There is a stigma associated with not being able to read,” Young said. “There is a perception that it’s an intelligence problem, but these people bring so much to the table. They are intelligent. They are successful people who have learned techniques and figured ways to cope with this.”
Young said generally, tutors work one-on-one with a student for at least a year. They meet once a week, and then the student is expected to work at home, practicing until the next tutoring session.
Jacob’s Well got involved in the project, according to board member Cathy Riggs, after the board of directors determined two of the greatest problems in the county are drugs and literacy.
“We didn’t think we could do anything about the drug problem,” she stated. “We are not drug counselors. But we knew we could be trained to teach reading.”
Riggs said Jacob’s Well Ministries has been in existence for 10 years and was established to “lift people up and get them out of their circumstances.”
Mary Mallette is the on-site director at Jacob’s Well, where there is a store offering everything from clothing to household items and furniture. The small prices on the items help pay the rent and utilities. Many of the items are simply given away though, based on need and circumstance, such as a house fire. Bible study is also held at Jacob’s Well on Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
“Our main objective here is to share the Word of God,” said Mike Goodnite, Jacob’s Well president.
Riggs said right now, the reading program will concentrate on the Bend Area, but organizers are hoping people will step up to establish satellite programs in other parts of the county.
Those interested in becoming a tutor must register for the class by calling Riggs at 304-882-3124 or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a Facebook event page titled “Jacob’s Well Ministries Inc. is sponsoring Adult Literacy Tutor Training.”
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and lives in Mason County.