Adult Literacy Program Proves It Is Never too Late to Learn
A student studies his psychology book. Photo courtesy of Dalen Dahl.

Adult Literacy Program Proves It Is Never too Late to Learn

A local program here in the Stevens Point community is helping members of the community. Or in this case, helping adults that are looking for help in basic math or English literacy.

The Portage County Literacy Council is a nonprofit organization located on the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus. The mission of the Portage County Literacy Council is to help Portage County adults develop the basic math and English literacy skills necessary to achieve economic self-sufficiency and community integration.

The council has been around since 1986 and is located in Nelson Hall in room 209. It is run with the help of Executive Director Kristy SeBlonka.

Many of the adults in the program are immigrants and refugees who are learning English for the first time. The program also invites fluent or native English speakers who simply want to improve their reading, writing or math skills. They provide one-on-one tutoring and small group instruction for free to around 50 adults per year, with tutoring sessions happening up to two to four hours each week based on the individuals wants and needs.

Because this is a public service offered with no profit gained, many of the tutors are volunteers.  Students at UWSP who are looking for experience in working with adults as well as becoming involved as a part of a practicum or internship also offer their time to the program.

Ashley Watzigj, intern with the ELL Department and PCLC this fall, said,  “As a UWSP student, it is enriching to be in an internship that allows me to engage with the community and learn the ways through which local nonprofits and volunteers work together to provide opportunities for English language learning to those in the area who need it. Through developing their English language skills, we empower our learners and strengthen the community as a whole.”

Many of the learners have taken the program to improve literacy skills for work, families or other reasons and offer a lot to the local community. Tutoring sessions are the most flexible depending on the learners schedule. Bri Grosskopf is a tutor and has been helping with a learner since last winter.

Grosskopf said, “While the primary benefit is for the student, as a tutor I enjoy the aspect of building friendships and learning about new cultures and perspectives.”

Kirby Lichon


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