Literacy group reforms in area

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 31, 2000

Tri-State Literacy Council, which has existed in Huntington, W.

Friday, March 31, 2000

Tri-State Literacy Council, which has existed in Huntington, W.Va., since 1981, had an Ironton office until 1997. It reopened in the city Wednesday.

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The Ironton office will be funded by the Huntington-Ironton Empowerment Zone grant and will function as an adults-only literacy tutoring center, Ms. Steiding said.

"People who have trouble reading depend on other people," she said. "If they improve their reading skills, they become independent. It opens up a whole new world."

The council operates on a volunteer basis, pairing tutors with those who express a desire to learn more about reading.

So far, the Ironton office has signed about six tutors.

Residents who need help with reading sign up and take a skills test. They then are matched with a tutor and it’s up to the student and tutor to schedule class sessions.

"The tutors work one-on-one and all the materials are free," Ms. Steiding said. "We don’t want this to be school for a group. It’s to help each individual improve."

The Tri-State Literacy Council will try to gear each person’s reading work toward what that person’s goals are, she said.

For example, if someone needs reading skills to help their children with homework, then that’s the area of concentration; and if it’s to pass the GED test, then that’s where the concentration lies, Ms. Steiding said.

"Everything a person does will involve a form of reading," she said. "Everything is tied to it. That’s why it’s so important. It’s vital to everyday life."

The Tri-State Literacy Council’s efforts in Ironton also will be important because statistics show that 24 percent of the city’s population only has a level one, or beginner’s, understanding of reading, Ms. Steiding added.

Many people cannot fill out a job application, read a story to their child or read grocery lists and labels, she said.

Those people should not feel ashamed, either, because there are many reasons people have poor reading skills, even simply the inability to get to school when they were young, Ms. Steiding said.

"We want them to take that big step," she said.

The Tri-State Literacy Council is dedicated to helping people achieve their goals in life and those goals hinge on reading, Ms. Steiding said.

"And you’re never too old," she said. "If you want to learn, it’s never too late to learn."

To sign up for classes or to volunteer as a tutor, contact the council’s Ironton office in the Ironton City Schools administrative office, 105 S. Fifth St., or call Ms. Steiding at 532-4133.

The next tutor training sessions will be May 15-16 and May 22-23, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library.