DCLC News & Notes
November/December 2021............. In this issue...
  • DCLC Profile: Volunteers are Superheroes in our Midst
  • DCLC News: Premium Experiences Cap Off Expert Academy Telethon
  • Insights to Share: Libraries Strive to Close Digital Divide
Examples of successes experienced by DCLC English language learners.
DCLC Profile: Volunteer Tutors Have A Heroic Impact
by Sally Sapega and Susan Keller

DCLC’s volunteer tutors are regular people who perform superhero feats.
They may not wear capes, and their accomplishments rarely end up on the news, but these dedicated individuals are heroic, nonetheless.
Volunteer tutors share their time and knowledge to help others, usually working one on one with a DCLC adult learner twice a week. These heroes take training and then use their creativity and personal connection with the student to present lessons, guide student practice, and determine the best way to help the student make progress toward self-identified goals.
Becoming this type of superhero is not as hard as it might look. Sure, it takes a regular time commitment. And it definitely helps if the volunteer is open to learning new things and is ready to be flexible, patient, compassionate, and encouraging while helping another adult navigate new skills and sometimes even an entirely new culture.
What is involved in this superhero adventure? And how does one get started? Glad you asked.
First, it’s important to know there are two types of literacy tutoring at DCLC.

Tutors of English as a Second Language (ESL) students help immigrant adults learn to speak, read, write, and understand English. Some DCLC learners arrive in the U.S. knowing just a handful of English words; others are familiar with English but need to increase their vocabulary, usage, and comprehension.

Tutors of Adult Basic Education (ABE) students help adults who need to improve their reading, writing, and sometimes math. These adults may have dropped out of school or may have received their high school diploma but cannot read, write, or do math at a high school level. Some are immigrants who speak English but need help with reading and writing.

Teaching experience is NOT required to be a volunteer tutor. Also, ESL volunteer tutors do not need to know another language. DCLC provides training, free materials, and personal support to help each volunteer be successful.

Currently, most volunteers are tutoring students on virtual platforms, such as FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom. A few are meeting in person at libraries or at DCLC.
Volunteer Tutors Ann Gilligan (left) and
Ed Koons (right) with student Art Caple.
When in person, tutors and students must meet in a public location rather than in either person’s home.

The personal rewards are what draws most people to volunteering as a literacy tutor.

As ESL tutor Leah Semmelhaack explains,
“I enjoy the interaction, knowing that I get to help someone in a significant way.”
ABE tutor Ann Gilligan tries to relate lessons to real-life situations in a student’s life. “When you hook them to knowledge they already have, it gives them confidence,” she says. For one student who worked as a security guard, Gilligan’s help meant the student could finally read notes her supervisor left her.

Many DCLC students see similar small changes that make a big difference in their everyday lives. One ABE student discovered he could read his mail better after working with his tutor regularly. Another was excited to be able to read road signs so she could visit her mother in Long Island, New York, on her own.
Volunteers also help DCLC students work toward specific milestones, such as earning a GED, changing careers, or restarting a profession they practiced in their home country.
Maria Torres is one such student. When she arrived in the U.S., Torres had worked as a dentist in Spain and in the Dominican Republic. She was unable to land a position in a U.S. dental office because her English skills were not strong enough. After working with DCLC volunteer tutor James Stein for two years, Torres again applied to that same dental office and was hired. She is now a full-time dental assistant.
Clearly, patience and persistence can change lives—both the student’s and the volunteer tutor’s. As one former volunteer put it, “Working with the students at the Literacy Council may very well be one of the best things that I have ever done.”
To take the next steps to become one of these superheroes, check out the basic information about becoming a volunteer tutor here and then fill out the online application.
Premium-Package Expert Experiences
Thrill and Engage Participants
Premium Package donors enjoyed a delicious six-course dinner at American Silk in Philadelphia, courtesy of expert chef Alex Garfinkel and Balboa Catering.
Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal (shown above) shared insights
about comedy writing and answered participants' questions during a
Premium-Package live Zoom session held in December.
Can you imagine tasting delectable dishes prepared by Alex Garfinkel, the high-end chef featured in DCLC's recent Expert Academy Telethon? How about asking Phil Rosenthal personally the best way to pace jokes? Some lucky supporters of DCLC were able to have just such one-of-a-kind experiences when they participated in the Expert Academy Telethon's Premium-Package offerings.

Premium Packages provided a new way for DCLC supporters to donate in order to have an up-close experience with the experts featured in the October 20 Expert Academy Online Telethon.

An amazing six-course dinner was hosted for a group of donors in November by Balboa Catering at American Silk in Philadelphia. The dishes included consommé and duck dumplings and cassoulet canneloni. Also, a group of supporters gathered on Zoom in December for a lively question-and-answer session to learn more about TV comedy writing from Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal.

These Premium-Package experiences capped off this year's exciting online event. If you missed the telethon, you can watch it here.

The Expert Academy Telethon celebrated the 2021 Champions of Adult Literacy and raised money in support of DCLC's free literacy programs for local adults. Thanks to caring DCLC supportersincluding individual donors, corporate and small-business sponsors, the featured experts and guests, and the Rosenthal Family Foundation, which provided a generous supporting grantthe online event raised more than $40,000.00 to help DCLC students continue their studies, receive employment help, and reach their goals!

Thanks to all who supported this innovative online event!
Tackling the Digital Divide:
Libraries Can Be Catalysts of Change
A DCLC tutor and student meet at Upper Darby's Municipal Library in early March 2020.
According to a recent World Education article, "Adults need digital literacy to access essential information, compete for jobs, and participate in education. These needs existed long before 2020, but were highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic as adults with developing digital literacy skills had difficulty accessing unemployment benefits, participating in virtual doctors’ appointments, and registering for COVID tests and vaccinations."

This same article shares three innovative strategies used by libraries to help patrons improve their digital skills, including mobile learning, learning circles, and learning lounges.

Here in Delaware County, the Workforce Development Board, the Upper Darby libraries, and DCLC are currently offering Digital Literacy classes for adults at the following locations and times. Contact the location that works best for you to learn more and register.

Local Digital Literacy Classes (call locations to register/learn more)
PA Career Link in Chester, Monday mornings, 610-447-3350
Upper Darby Municipal Library, Tuesday mornings, 610-734-7649
Upper Darby Sellers Library, Wednesday afternoons, 610-789-4400
Upper Darby Primos Library, Thursday mornings, 610-622-8091
Delaware County Literacy Council, Friday mornings, 610-876-4811