By Clare S. Richie
When Linda Goode began taking classes at Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta (LVA), she read at the first grade level. Even though she dropped out of school as a girl to care for her younger siblings, Goode always valued education. She volunteered at her daughter’s school and proudly put her daughter through college. Two years ago she decided, “It’s my time now to get my education. I want to read, get my GED, and go to college.” Thanks to LVA, Goode now reads at the 3rd grade level, has learned basic computer skills, and started teaching other adult students.
Jeffery Linzy came to LVA to strengthen skills critical to completing his GED. While growing up, he was ignored or put down when he asked for help in school or at home, so he stopped asking. As an adult, he was “tired of feeling less than.” With LVA’s support and encouragement, “I was ready to prove I could make something of myself,” Linzy said. Now he is a positive influence to other adult learners.
LVA uses a student-centered approach to enable adult learners, like Goode and Linzy, to reach their personal literacy goals. Put simply, LVA meets students where they are. The nonprofit matches adult students who read below the 5th/6th grade level into free classes or with one-on-one tutors staffed by trained volunteers. Thirty-three classes per week at LVA’s Decatur office or the Decatur Recreation Center cover reading, spelling, writing, math, and entry-level computer skills. LVA also offers English and citizenship classes.
With more than 800,000 adults in metro Atlanta who read below the 5th grade level, it’s no surprise that LVA always has more students than volunteer tutors and teachers. To address that gap, LVA started a student mentor program in January led by advanced students. Goode and Linzy agreed to serve as the first mentors.
“Linda [Goode] is a natural born teacher,” Board President Linda Mote said. “She talks to her students like adults, leads by example, and takes the time needed to foster learning. Two years ago, Linda didn’t know how to write a check. Now she shows her class.”
“When I was asked to teach, it lifted my spirits and gave me confidence. I’m giving back,” Goode explained.
It all starts with adults who have the courage to ask for help and volunteers dedicated to teaching them. “After 18 years, I’m here because I taught James to read and saw how much it changed his life,” Mote said. “We see that everyday at LVA.”
For more about LVA or to become a tutor, classroom teacher, assistant or donor, visit lvama.org.