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Extending Our Reach

Welcoming Tutors and Learners from Newport News and Hampton:

Frank and Betsy


“Dyslexia doesn’t mean you are dumb,” says Frank. "People like me get frustrated and down on themselves, but they can be geniuses. They say even Einstein had dyslexia.”

Even though Frank understands his reading disability and doesn’t allow it to define him, others have not always been sympathetic. “Even though I spoke English, German, and Sign Language as a child, people are cruel. They think if you can’t read, you can’t think – and that’s not true. When a


disability can be seen, people try and help, but a learning disability can’t be seen, and many disregard it. People with dyslexia begin to doubt their own worth, and that’s the worst handicap of all.”


Frank has not allowed his reading challenges to prevent him from achieving goals. By taking advantage of accommodations, he obtained his GED and also completed a creative writing course. Still, he was determined to improve his basic reading and computer skills, so he sought the help of a volunteer tutor. Despite the expense and inconvenience of public transportation, he faithfully takes the bus to meet his tutor – and during the pandemic, he persisted with his lessons over the phone. Frank has measurably improved his reading skills as a result.



Frank’s tutor, Karla, raves about Frank. “He is so dedicated to improving his reading. He is gifted in his ability to express his thoughts." Karla is impressed with his story-telling ability especially considering his lack of formal education.


Literacy for Life is delighted to welcome Frank and Karla as one of our newest pairs, absorbed from the recently closed Peninsula READS. We are excited to watch as Frank continues to pursue his dream of reading as well as he thinks!


 

Teaching Parents to Reach Their Children:

Dinora

“It’s important that my children have confidence in my English,” says “They need to know that I can understand them and support them.”


Dinora came to the United States from El Salvador. She grew up in a rural area with no roads, only walking paths, where the average person receives only five years of education. Dinora thrived in school and was determined to attend, so she walked ninety minutes each way every day to attend her first nine years of school. Because there was no secondary school in her region, she moved to live with extended family so that she could complete her high school diploma.  Dinora learned some basic English in her Salvadoran schools, but because she never used it, she forgot most of it. When she came to the United States in search of a better future, she knew only a handful of basic vocabulary words. “I could say hi,” she remembers, and maybe simple words like table or paper. That was all.” Dinora enrolled with Literacy for Life and began learning English. She was especially grateful for her growing English language skills when she had children—especially during the pandemic. “I love helping with homework, and attending conferences and talking to the teachers, so I know how my children are doing,” she says. “Especially during COVID, it was so important that I could read the information coming from the school and support my children. We learned together.”


Today, Dinora speaks and reads English well enough to meet her daily needs, but she continues to study and improve her skills. “Literacy for Life is still helping me,” she says. “I love the virtual classes because they are so convenient, especially for moms like me. Also, I am improving my computer skills, which is so important for my future."

Dinora is striving to fine tune her English because she dreams of being able to interpret for others who are struggling. “I could work in a place like a hospital or airport, or any business where it is essential for people to communicate. I want to be an interpreter and use my language skills to help other people.”

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