St. Mark’s Church battles illiteracy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 12, 2000

Features Editor

Oct. 11, 2000 10 PM

The membership of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church saw a need and responded.

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The fact that reading is fun and fundamental does not change the reality that many adults all across America and right here at home cannot read.

According to national studies, one in four people in Alabama is functionally illiterate, as is one in five nationally.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church decided to do something about illiteracy in the Pike County community. That "something" is a reading program for persons 18 and older who what to learn to read and improve the quality of their lives.

A training course for tutors was offered at the church and 13 people have completed the training program and received certification.

Donna Schubert, one of the tutors, said those who cannot read have difficulty getting and keeping good jobs and contributing substantially to society.

The inability to read is not a sign of low intelligence, but usually more an indication of a missed opportunity for education. But, the tutors of St. Mark’s hope to provide that opportunity again for many who missed it earlier in life through the use of the Laubach Literacy Program, which was designed by the Alabama Laubach Literacy Council.

Literacy pioneer and missionary Frank C. Laubach discovered that literacy empowers people to improve and enrich their lives.

"Dr. Laubach’s Each One Teach One challenge encourages literate adults to take on the responsibility of teaching an illiterate friend or neighbor," Schubert said.

According to the Alabama Laubach Literacy Council, newly literate people can better meet their basic needs in health and housing, can gain employment or generate other means of support and can better preserve and utilize the land and other resources.

Newly literate people can strengthen families, communities and cultures and play positive and peaceful roles in the transformation of their societies.

"According to our literacy trainers from the Central Alabama Laubach Literacy Center, 33,000 people in Alabama have had less that one year of school," Schubert said. "The Laubach Literacy Program serves people with very limited skills. Most people enter the program reading below the fourth grade level."

Pride often prevents adults from seeking help in learning to read. Sometimes it’s a crisis that motivates them to seek the help they need but it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are 13 people at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church who are trained, willing and eager to help open a new world of reading for someone. On an average, a student needs a year to complete the basic Laubach Way to Read series. These tutors have committed to that length of time for those they teach.

Those who have completed the training are Margaret Bemis, Linda Dykes, Rebecca Dyson, Thack Dyson, Virginia Dyson, Beverly Gibson, Taylor Gordon, Janet Hughes, John Jinright, Joyce Landers, Archer Rogers, Donna Schubert and Marie Wilson.

For more information regarding enrolling in the program, contact Marie Wilson at 670-6956 or Thack Dyson at 566-2619.