BY CAROL ROEHM
The Reader’s Route seeks volunteer tutors to help adults learn to read better.
According to statistics, one in every five adults has difficulty reading the newspaper, the instructions on a medicine bottle or a note from their child’s teacher.
More than 20 million adults in the United States and hundreds locally share these problems.
Scott Heatherton, Reader’s Route coordinator and tutor recruiter, said the literacy program has 36 tutors but he would like to have at least 10 more.
The Reader’s Route, which is offered by the adult education division of Danville Area Community College, provides volunteer tutor training from 12:30 to 4 p.m. on Thursdays, May 2, 9, 16 and 23 at the DACC office at the Village Mall, 2917 N. Vermilion St. All 16 hours of training are required.
The Reader’s Route pairs volunteer literacy tutors with adults who are 16 years old or older and who read below the ninth-grade level.
The Illinois Secretary of State, whose office funds the project, requires volunteers to complete at least 12 hours of training before becoming tutors.
Earlier this year, the tutor training curriculum was rewritten to include six hours of observation. It provides an opportunity for prospective tutors to observe two actual tutoring sessions during the second week of training.
“That is the best part of the new training,” Heatherton said. “They can see up front if this is something for them.
“There are two sessions that they have to observe — one is an adult basic education tutoring session in either reading or math and the other is an English as a Second Language tutoring session,” he said.
“In the classroom, you’re never going to see this,” he said of observing a live tutoring session. “The rest of the classroom portion complements the observations.
“It also has dramatically reduced the number who drops out of tutor training,” he said, adding that he hopes the observation sessions will encourage individuals and build their confidence that they can tutor.
“Both programs — adult basic education and English as a second language — could use a few more tutors,” he said.
Heatherton said he has been seeing more people seeking assistance with literacy skills.
“They want to learn to read better just for the sake of reading,” he said.
The requirements to be a volunteer tutor include having completed high school themselves, being at least 18 years old, having the desire to be a tutor and being flexible. Tutors do not have to be bilingual. Prospective tutors also will submit to a background check.
To register for volunteer tutor training sessions, call Scott Heatherton at 443-8785 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.