Twenty educators attended a recent training luncheon for Madison County Reads Ahead at the Cazenovia Public Library. MCRA is the only 1:1 free tutoring program in the county that helps adults obtain their high school equivalency or learn English for speakers of other languages.

MCRA Coordinator Tara Truett, a retired educator with over 30 years in public education, has been with the program since 2012. She reported that the training introduced the new product, Knowdell Card Sort, that helps clients think about their career values, skills and occupational interests. Tutors also learned about using News For You Online which offers easy-to-read weekly stories with audio and exercises for ESOL clients.

Kriss A. Young, of Zen Den Wellness in Hamilton gave participants a chance for personal development by participating in chair yoga and tutors had time for networking, Truett said.

Julie Rubenstein lives and tutors clients in Hamilton. She had previously been a literacy tutor in Oneida County. She started with MCRA when she moved to Madison County in 2010. At the training. she said, “Tutors are always willing to share what they have learned either from their students, or through seminars/webinars. Sometimes talking to other tutors can give you an ‘aha’ moment that will uncover a breakthrough with your own students.”

MCRA tutoring is built around the clients’ needs and schedule. Graduates receiving their high school equivalency are generally more productive in the work force and are better able to support themselves and their families, Truett said. “ESOL clients improve their English speaking skills,” she added, “making it easier to navigate in their communities. Others obtain their citizenship, if that is what they are seeking.”  

Truett works with three local coordinators: Donna Bocketti, in Chittenango, Bridgeport and Canastota; Jody Szezch in Oneida and Carla Zimmerman-Edison in Cazenovia and New Woodstock.

Truett said the volunteers often express that they get as much or more from tutoring than their students. “Long-term friendships occur and the tutors feel good about giving back to their community.” she said.

That has been the case for Pam Maihafer, of Oneida. She has been involved with MCRA at Oneida Library since 2001, primarily helping adults with ESOL. “Working one-on-one,” she said, “has been enjoyable and culturally rich. In these situations, I too am a learner … One former ‘student’ and I continue to meet regularly as friends who discuss common interests, goals,  plans and current events.”

Rubenstein concurs. “Opening a book can open up a world that some people have never experienced,” she said, “Self esteem is something that comes with small successes – from learning a word, to figuring out a math problem, to working out how to best handle a situation at a job. They are all wins in my opinion. Watching the joy on a Mom’s face as her children watch her accept her high school equivalency diploma is priceless.”For more information on MCRA, contact Tara Truett at (315) 345-1468.

By martha

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