I met my English tutor, Mary-Frances Smith the summer of 2004 at the Centre for Family Literacy located on Jasper Ave. I couldn’t believe my tutor is a zealous, young and beautiful lady. We met once a week at the centre or the library. I sent her a couple of e-mails as homework for my journal. She let me choose my own novels and grammar books, and we work at my own pace. I felt great progress from learning from her creative and flexible teaching.
I am a mother of three and have been in Edmonton for almost two decades. After I enrolled in the adult tutoring program with Mary, my life changed greatly; I got my job at the YMCA. I can handle the daily matters all by myself. Mary helped me to build my self-esteem. I independently solve the problems in my family and my work. She always advises me with her positive ideas!
When I first went to the Centre for Family Literacy, I was scared to admit that I can’t read or write. I thought it was a school for special Ed people. But I saw people like me, who are the same as everyone, in the literacy program.
Then I met Debbie. She made me do a test to see what level I am at. Debbie got me to open up a lot, and she changed me in a way that changed my life. I was shy to read, but Debbie said “Take your time”.
When I learned how to read and write, I was so shocked that I wanted to learn more, to get to college and to be an actor.
I have been working with tutors for seven years, and I’m still learning more. I am reading a lot better. Now I can read to my kids. I read what I need to at work and I am studying for a Class 3 driver’s license (to drive buses and semis). I feel like I know more about what is going on around me, and I pay more attention to the news. I even go on the computer more often.
My dad told me that there is no such thing as can’t, only can do.
A few years before I came to the Centre For Family Literacy, my girlfriend gave me a flyer for the Centre with the phone number on it, but I did nothing about it. One day, my 7 year old daughter and I were reading a book and I had trouble making out the words. My daughter made fun of me. I decided to call the Centre and make an appointment to see someone. Whenever I tried to read I would get frustrated and give up. I tried to read in front of people once and they made fun of me because I could not make out the words. I knew that not being able to read was holding me back in life. Going to meet my tutor was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done! The first few sessions with my tutor were nerve wracking! It took a few sessions to learn to relax. When my tutor asked me to write the days of the week and the 12 months we realized I could not do cursive writing. One of the reasons I learned how to read is so I could learn how to use the computer and new technology. I went from a Level one to Level six in one year and won the Lois Hole Adult Literacy award. Reading has helped me in many ways. I now can understand work orders and use the computer to help fix my vehicles. I enjoy surfing the “net”. It’s nice to be able to look at instructions and figure them out on your own instead of waiting for someone else to help you out. I remember how I used to struggle looking for addresses in the city. Now, I take reading for granted because I don’t even remember all the struggles I used to have… but there are still more mountains to climb.
This story was written by a member of The Book Club program at the Centre for Family Literacy.
Big tall trees circle around the strong house. As I walk up to the steps, I see my bay window that bends around the side of the house. I open the heavy door and sit on a soft ledge. I sit with my best blanket. I hear the loud crackling sounds in the fireplace. Holding a big cup of hot tea in my hands, I watch the rain hit the window and run down the window panes. Lightening makes loud sounds. I have soft music on. Being by myself, I have my best friend- a big beige Retriever lying on my lap. I watch the rain run down the window and hear the drops. I smell the wet grass and see the rain wash the flowers. Birds shake the water off their feathers. I am by myself with my thoughts.