June 2021

Literacy Delaware Newsletter
From the Desk of the Executive Director
We’ve done it!  With a sigh of relief, we are ending our program year in June and beginning anew on July 1st. As this remarkable year comes to a close, looking back, I’m amazed by all we have accomplished. We have weathered the COVID-19 storm because of the grit and determination of our learners, dedication of our volunteers, commitment of our staff and passion of you, our supporters.  

Like all non-profits this past year, we have had our share of challenges getting used to life at a distance. Without you and your belief in the power of literacy, we would not have survived these struggles.  

I am both humbled by and appreciative of your unwavering generosity. Our volunteers are the heart of the organization, but you, our donors truly make our heart beat.

Check out our new website!

A Future Teacher - Learner Yesica
Literacy Delaware learner Yesica is a busy woman focused on faith, family, and improving herself. She works with her husband running their family-owned painting business, is raising two children and is active in her church. Despite all these responsibilities, Yesica still makes time to meet with her tutors Dale and Anne twice a week.

Yesica came to Literacy Delaware through board member Dina Sanchez who is a pastor at her church. Through her work with Literacy Delaware, remotely now during the pandemic, Yesica says she feels “more comfortable reading and speaking with Anne, clients at work, and participating in Tuesday Conversation Group”. Yesica credits the individualized one-to-one support she receives from Anne for her progress; “This class is different because the teacher can explain it to you. You don’t have to feel embarrassed because it’s just the two of you.”
Anne enjoys working with Yesica and says “we need more smart, dedicated women like Yesica as we continue to improve our community, Delaware and America.”

Yesica plans to continue her studies through Literacy Delaware, hoping to complete her GED and meet her goal of becoming an elementary school teacher in her community.
Welcome New Start!
Literacy Delaware is excited to welcome volunteers and learners from New Start Adult Learning to our ranks!

New Start has always been a “sister” program working in the Middletown and Odessa area. When New Start's Executive Director Susan Trzonkowski contacted Literacy Delaware in December about joining forces, it was a very simple decision. YES!  

“This strategic move leverages resources, reduces duplication of services and most importantly serves more learners.”, says Literacy Delaware Executive Director Cindy Shermeyer.  
In addition to New Start’s dedicated volunteers, we welcome Susan Trzonkowski to our staff. Susan brings extensive experience in adult literacy which will fill the important vacant role of Program Coordinator. This growth in our footprint adds an office in the Corbitt Calloway Memorial Library which will help us better serve communities in lower New Castle County.
Always As When You Don't Know - Learner Kevin
Kevin is a capable welder from Puerto Rico who has been in his current job for nearly 3 years. He works with his tutor Phoebe after work. Kevin says “Phoebe is a good teacher. She takes the time to explain everything. She pushes me to practice my English out of my comfortable area otherwise I’m not learning anything”. When Kevin doesn’t understand, he asks Phoebe “to explain it again” to be sure he does understand.

Finding opportunities to speak English outside of lessons is often a challenge for learners, so Kevin was excited to have been asked to train a new employee who only speaks English in his welding job so he could continue his practice. 

As he was working with this new employee, Kevin would explain how to construct the beam and ask if the employee understood. But when he tried to complete the task, the work wasn’t done properly. “I would ask if he understood and the guy would assure me ‘I got it, I got it." But he really didn’t.

Kevin explains that his new trainee listens to him and follows his rules and asks questions. “I say to tell me if you have a problem and I’ll help you,” just as Phoebe does for him. “Now I have a good student who asks me questions to do his job better.”

Of all the accomplishments Kevin has achieved, "it is my opinion that the greatest so far is confidence” shares Phoebe. “He was very eager to learn and had clear goals for learning English in mind when we started but was really looking for the right environment to open up in and practice without fear of awkwardness or a need to be 100% correct all the time.”

Phoebe worked with Kevin to help him navigate buying a car, a goal he just achieved! Kevin’s future goal is to get a better job and to move. “I don’t want to stay all my life in the same job,” Kevin says, “I need progress!”  
Rich Carver Delivers!
As the pandemic led us to pivot to distance learning, we realized that many of our learners did not have adequate access to technology. Thanks to a Covid-19 Rapid Response grant from the Delaware Community Foundation (DCF), we were able to secure 15 Chromebooks to loan to learners to continue their studies. We created a protocol for usage and security and determined which learners had internet access and could therefore benefit most. Volunteer Rich Carver spearheaded the acquisition, set up, and distribution of Chromebooks to learners, and continues to manage monitoring and troubleshooting.

Upon delivery, Rich helps learners understand the acceptable use policy by saying the rule can be reduced to “you can’t do anything your mother would not allow you to do.” Our learners and tutors are thrilled to have the Chromebooks to continue their work. Many had been trying to communicate by phone or had stopped lessons altogether. 

The interactive nature of technology has taken lessons to a new level. Learners can type on their screens while tutors see each letter appear. Tutors can provide corrections interactively while giving explanations. Tutors can show videos or play audios of reading passages. Learners can be assigned pre-work and homework which can be shown to the tutor during remote online sessions.

Through the many miles Rich has driven, hand delivering Chromebooks, he has very much felt the gratitude from recipients, even through their masks, who feel that having them has really made a difference. “The best part of the onboarding and delivery process is being able to interact (safely - with masks and distancing) with the recipients. Their English is not perfect, but their happiness is clearly and openly expressed. I feel like Santa in his sleigh when I am driving away after a delivery!” says Rich.

Thank you so much for your efforts, Rich in helping us “deliver” our programming
throughout the state!
New Delaware Division of
Libraries Partnership
Literacy Delaware has received a grant to partner with the Delaware Division of Libraries (DDL) to collaborate on initiatives to expand the capacity for adult literacy programming and services through all public libraries statewide. 

“We are excited to expand our partnership with Delaware’s Libraries to include more than just tutoring and meeting spaces. Literacy and libraries go hand in hand, and it is way past time that we deepen our partnership.” says Literacy Delaware Executive Director Cindy Shermeyer.

Part of this deepened partnership focuses on involvement in the newly launched collaborative, the Delaware Communities of Excellence (COE) as well as a new digital literacy programming initiative.

DDL is the driving force of the Delaware COE and Literacy Delaware is in the front seat lending resources and expertise. The Delaware COE collaborative's goal is to enhance the quality of life for all Delawareans.
Its current work is developing comprehensive literacy systems fostering equity for all using a collective impact framework and the Communities of Excellence model as large-scale societal change requires broad, cross-sector coordination.

COVID-19 has unveiled the need for digital literacy skills and access to technology many Delawareans have even in 2021. Investing in the Northstar Digital Literacy program, DDL and Literacy Delaware can leverage resources to offer digital literacy programming at the library.

“We are excited about the partnership with Literacy Delaware to extend their expertise in support of adult literacy services through all of the public libraries” says Dr. Annie Norman, State Librarian and Director of the Delaware Division of Libraries.

Together, we will enhance Delawareans' quality of life through literacy and create a strong foundation for a more equitable Delaware.

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 As we begin our new fiscal year, please consider making a donation
to help us reach our goals.

Thank You!

Literacy Delaware, Inc.
P.O. Box 2083
Wilmington, DE 19899 | literacydelaware.org | 302.658.5624