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Reading Connections NEWSFLASH

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The Humanity of Teaching: 
Reflections from the Reading Connections Detention Center Program
By Tiffany Kallam, Detention Center Program Coordinator

The experience of teaching behind bars-without a scholarly library, internet, or efficient means of communication between teachers and students, and facing students whose eagerness for education and intellectual thought completely outpaces their skills and available resources, in short of dealing with all kinds of lack all the time-has ironically made us into more effective, thoughtful, and committed teachers. Of necessity, we have adapted and grown flexible as the very limits imposed have caused us to shift attention from the mechanisms of teaching to the humanity of it. 

I have seen the study of literature, culture, and history bring the best intellectual and spiritual qualities out of a group of students in an environment many would consider actively hostile to the human spirit. In a place where daily life is dehumanizing, I have seen rigorous and meticulous thought and discussion; and not just summing with insightful conclusions but to conclusions based on compassion and empathy for the human condition of others.

Currently in our High Adult Literacy class, we are reading Viktor Frankl's A Man's Search for Meaning, a novel in which the author depicts his experience in Nazis concentration camps and his search for meaning in love, deeds, and suffering. 

Grappling with the Holocaust--especially within the jail context-is no easy task, as the students are asked to address difficult questions that often hit close to home. For example: What made it possible for people to marginalize, exclude, incarcerate and finally annihilate their fellow-citizens? The starting point for our critical analysis was to practice attentive listening - to the texts and to each other. Sometimes, especially at the beginning of classes, students cling to entrenched views. But, more often and increasingly, an electric stillness pervades the classroom, an awareness and receptivity that come from engaging with questions that deeply matter to all of us. One student in the class, explaining how Holocaust education can be transformative, wrote that it had helped him "to value other people's point of view and to put oneself in the position of another." It is this kind of purposeful and reciprocal pedagogy, an integrative approach to learning that engages our minds, our hearts, and our souls.

Education inside can and needs to be a site for hope and renewal. If we can find the courage to view our society holistically, that is if we begin to be more deliberate in our awareness that we are all interconnected, then mutual accountability − the collective responsibility to care and to take care of one another − will become inevitable. Teaching inside has taught me that we as an organization have the privilege and the obligation to be a central part of this transformative vision.
Tutor Spotlight: Sarah Freeman and Jonine Moore
Reading Connections, in partnership with the High Point Public Library, has offered a monthly Basic Computer Skills class for several years now. The free training became so popular, at one time the class had as many as 20 students! Our long time Computer Instructor, Sarah Freeman, needed assistance to keep up with all the students' needs. Both Sarah and Reading Connections were relieved when Jonine Moore joined RC as a co-instructor for the class a few months ago.
Computer illiteracy can create a very large information gap between those that have it at their fingertips, know how to navigate it, and the students who haven't quite learned the skills necessary or lack access. The computer lab at the High Point Public Library, just a mere 40 steps from the Reading Connections offices, allows RC to host the monthly class and gives students in attendance the full 3 hours of computer practice completely free!
Sarah and Jonine enjoy offering the class each month and have ideas to expand and improve the class in the coming months. For now, the class will cover basic parts of the computer, basic terminology needed, introduction to the Internet, setting up and using an email account, and creating documents by introducing students to Microsoft Word and the use of Microsoft templates. Each class builds information to learn at the next class. Patrons are welcome to repeat the course as needed.
Sarah's promise: "[to provide] an inviting and stress free learning environment for any age and for any level of desire to learn."
*Due to schedules, the computer class will take a break in the months of March and April. Anyone interested in filling in for Sarah and Jonine during these months are welcome to contact Anna Ridener, High Point Programs Coordinator, at or at 336-884-7323.
Open Labs
Starting the first week of February, we will be offering optional "Open Labs" available for our students, both in our ABE and ESOL programs, to attend on a drop-in basis in Greensboro. Students may attend Open Labs to receive supplemental literacy and language support, and/or receive direct support in completing/addressing a task (e.g., filling out an online job application, looking for post-secondary educational options, practicing for a job interview, reading a prescription label, etc.). We will have office volunteers and program interns, one being a WebMD Health Coach, available during the hours of Open Lab to work with any and all students that arrive and provide as much individualized support as possible. These labs will recognize and follow the Guilford County Schools inclement weather policy. The days and hours of labs offered will be as follows, starting Wednesday, February 3rd:

Wednesdays: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 
Location: Reading Connections Greensboro Office, Computer Lab 
Tutor Training

A free, three-part training will be offered in February and March for those who wish to become volunteer tutors. The training will include an introduction to the agency, requirements for becoming a tutor or instructor, the four components of reading, working with different learning styles, lesson planning, and much more!

High Point Public Library - Morgan Room (Book Lovers Room)

Wednesday, February 10th
5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Monday, February 15th
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, February 16th
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Self Help Building, Greensboro - 8th Floor Conference Room

Wednesday, March 9th
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Monday, March 14th
5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 16th
5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Supplemental Training

Greensboro High Point
Math Thursday, January 28th
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
8th Floor Conference
Wednesday, January 27th
10:00 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Morgan Community Room

High Point
Graphic Novels Wednesday, February 9th
4:30 - 7:00 p.m.
Ed McKay's Classroom
Friday, February 26th
10:00 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Morgan Community Room

Our mission is to provide and advocate for free, individualized adult literacy services to promote life changes for Guilford County residents and surrounding communities.  We always welcome your questions and feedback. Please don't hesitate to contact us to hear more about how our programs are making a difference in our community.

Jennifer Gore, Executive Director
Reading Connections, Inc.
For more information visit
or contact us at one of our offices:

In Greensboro
122 N. Elm Street, Suite 920
Greensboro, NC 27401
FAX 336-230-2203

In High Point
901 N. Main Street
High Point, NC 27262
FAX 336-883-3636