Literacy Council expects heightened demand for services in schools, recruiting volunteers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 12, 2021

SALISBURY — Rowan County Literacy Council is preparing to restart its regular in-school programs after a year hiatus and expects demand to increase significantly.

In 2019, the council worked with 28 students in Rowan-Salisbury Schools as part of its childhood literacy support. In 2020, the schools restricted visitors coming in to schools, but the council worked with North Rowan High School to provide support to nearly 50 students through its after school program.

The Cavs After Hours program let the council back into a school to help students who had struggled with remote learning.

“That worked out really well,” said Executive Director Laurel Harry, adding the council started sending large groups of tutors to the school to give kids one-on-one help.

The program went so well it was expanded in the 2021 spring semester to include a dedicated tutoring center in the school.

The council is now preparing to return to elementary and middle schools shortly, and it is expecting a significantly longer list of students who need help. Harry said the council is expecting details from the school district shortly and does not have an exact number, but volunteer recruitment has picked up. More volunteers are needed, too.

The council was lucky it converted training to all-online shortly before the pandemic began in 2020. Before that, getting volunteers on board required an in-person component.

Harry said the online training allowed the council to continue training volunteers even while the Rowan County Public Library headquarters in Salisbury, which houses its offices, was shut down in 2020. The council also started holding tutoring sessions online.

There are 60 volunteers currently working with the council scattered between its youth and adult literacy programs. Most of the adults tutored through the program are learning English as a second language.

Harry said proficiency in other languages is not required or necessary to tutor people who are not fluent in English. Harry said people getting support through the Literacy Council’s programs come from all backgrounds, from Ukraine to Vietnam. So, finding tutors that speak every native language would be impossible.

Literacy Council volunteer Mathias De Comarmond said he got involved this summer because it gave him a way to volunteer virtually. He sees tutoring as one of the most valuable things he can do as a college graduate.

“I feel like passing over knowledge is one of the best services I can offer,” De Comarmond said, adding he has a personal connection to English literacy because his mother learned English as a second language on her own.

“She did not have access to someone who was willing to tutor her,” De Comarmond said.

To become a tutor with RCLC, contact the office via 704-216-8266 or email Staff members can provide prospective volunteers with information on training and background checks.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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