Education briefs

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 8, 2020

New tutors at literacy council

SALISBURY – The pandemic has brought at least one silver lining to the Literacy
Council: a flood of new tutors.

“A few months into the pandemic, we noticed an uptick in new tutor applications. We started seeing
out-of-area tutor applications–Goldsboro and Cullowhee for example— from college students,” said
Literacy Council Program Coordinator Laurel Harry. “This is a game changer, and we hope to continue to attract new tutors from both inside and outside Rowan County.”

In the past tutors typically met students in the Rowan Public library for face-to-face tutoring. When
COVID19 necessitated a shift from in-person to virtual tutoring, tutors and students adjusted to meet
over video-conferencing apps like Zoom or WhatsApp. It no longer mattered if either party was actually
in Salisbury. “We started hearing about students attending class while driving to the mountains or
beach, and tutors teaching from out of state. In the past, these trips would have meant lost classes.
Now, the tutoring can continue, even if folks are out of town,” said Harry.
New tutors Amaiya Kerns, Jessica Fail, Jessieca Johnson, Kimberly Barrera-Gutierrez, Amber Rogers Haas,
and Madeline Wagoner will be working with students virtually. All tutors are working with either English as a Second Language students or GED students.

Kerns is on a break from her college studies but understands how difficult it can be to learn a
new language after having studied foreign languages herself, including five years of Korean. She noted, “I know without support, learning a new language can sometimes be hard, and stressful. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to help others and provide a positive language learning experience.”

Fail is a college student at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. She plans to become an ESL teacher after graduation, saying, “I think that becoming a tutor is a great opportunity that many people don’t take advantage of. Your given the chance to meet a variety of amazing people and while
you help them work towards achieving their goals, you can also learn something from a new perspective.”

Barrera-Gutierrez is an NC State student and native Spanish speaker.

“We often take literacy for granted and I wanted others to have the same opportunity as I did to learn how to read since it truly is a wonderful thing,” Barrera-Gutierrez said.

Madeline Wagoner is a student at Pfeiffer University studying English who also plans to teach after
graduation. “I initially signed up to volunteer with RCLC because I want to teach English as a Second
Language (ESL) when I graduate from college. I wanted to dip my toes into the water of being that
guidance for those who desire to use the English language for communication and bettering themselves.

This experience has been very rewarding already and seeing the joy on a student’s face when they have achieved their literacy goal reminds me why I chose to do this in the first place! Knowing that I am here as an encouragement and tutor for others has me looking forward to every session on my schedule,” she said.

Johnson is a recent UNC-Greensboro graduate interested in entering the Peace Corps and working as an educator. Haas works for the Rowan County Government by day and tutors her student in the evenings.

The Rowan County Literacy Council provides one-on-one tutoring in reading and English. Programs are free of charge to individuals in the community. For more information on enrolling as a student or
becoming a tutor, please visit the website at or call 704-840-3546.

Smart Start Rowan drive-thru Fall Festival

The autumn weather was perfect for Smart Start Rowan’s Drive Thru Fall Festival, which occurred Saturday, October 3, 2020. Safety was the number one priority, as staff and families wore face coverings and participants remained in their vehicles as they were invited to play I-
Spy at decorated stations through the course.

They also had the opportunity to sign up for the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program. Children received back packs donated by Healthy Blue, and they were filled with books, activities to enjoy at home, and healthy snacks. Parents were provided information about services provided by Smart Start Rowan, as well as materials from community partners in Rowan County.

Shurna Rabsatt, Family Support Program Lead, who organized the event, was delighted with the
turn out at this year’s Fall Festival. “As families are still trying to adjust and cope with the new normal that the COVID-19 pandemic has created, we were happy to provide a fun, family focused event for our community.”

“We were thrilled to see so many children and families attend this fun drive thru event,” said
Amy Brown, Executive Director. “Our annual Fall Festival is a special tradition, so we wanted to
host it again this year, but in a different way, to ensure safety for all involved. It was a great
opportunity to connect with families and let them know about the services we provide.”

Smart Start Rowan is located at 1329 Jake Alexander Boulevard South in Salisbury. For more
information call 704-630-9085, visit our website at, or find us on
Facebook at