Newton Reads program looking for volunteers

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- Newton Reads is looking for a few people willing to pass on one of life's most valuable gifts, and it doesn't cost a cent. They're hoping to interest volunteers to teach adults to read.

There are 70 active students enrolled in the Newton Reads program at five sites with only 30 trained tutors. Executive Director Renee' Jones said she has a simple program to train the tutors; she just needs willing volunteers.

"We have such a need for tutors it's unbelievable," she said. "We especially need tutors at Nelson Heights and the Housing Authority."

Newton Reads recently held a tutor training session with Kelley Provence as the facilitator which Jones said participants found very enlightening.

"Even I learned things," Jones said. "It's more than just teaching people to read. Literacy is the basic foundation for so many things. For instance, if you can't read, you can't do math problems."

Jones said the program encourages the tutors to get to know their pupils and ascertain what their goals are in learning to read.

"There are so many different reasons they give," Jones said. "One lady said, 'I just want to be able to read to my grandchildren.' Another man came in and said he wanted to learn to read the Bible and somebody else said he wanted to progress in his job."

Based on the student's goals and their reading level at the time they enter the program, the course of study is decided.

Jones said for some students basic phonics is required, but for others they are already familiar with a good many words based on their every day vocabulary.

She said the material used is geared for the adult learner and uses words such as about, above, back, because, etc.

"We use words they will remember because they use them all the time," Jones said. "They build on what they know."

Tutors are asked to commit to two hours of teaching twice a week for six months.

"Just like in school, these people need consistency in learning," Jones said. "They're paired with the same pupil for a length of time so the adult student is comfortable and the tutor is comfortable as well."

In addition to teaching basic reading skills, Newton Reads offers training for GED testing and English as a Second Language. Jones said they would especially like to appeal to retired business persons or teachers to help teach in those areas.

Anyone interested in the program or in volunteering should call Jones at 678-342-7943.