Undergraduate English Council publicity officer Rachael Coulter, a senior English major, has signed on to create flyers for upcoming events, and plan Quidditch matches and spelling bees for Literature for Life week each spring semester. She will also attend bi-weekly meetings a student group dedicated to English tutoring.
Coulter has a passion for E.E. Cummings and modern poetry, but she works with a 22-year- old- student who has trouble reading a restaurant menu.
Coulter volunteers at Literacy Kansas City, which pairs trained tutors with functionally illiterate adults. The initial goal is to advance the students from a first-grade level to at least a ninth-grade level to enable students to achieve GED certification.
“I think that people forget how crucial to everyday life is the ability to read,” Coulter said. “Many of the students’ goals are to be able to get a license, vote, help their children with homework and other basic life skills. By volunteering with this program, I really can help change someone’s life and help them reach goals they never thought possible.
To be an eligible volunteer, Coulter and other participants were required to attend an 18-hour tutor workshop. During training, tutors are paired with students and begin meeting each week. The workshop concluded with an assessment of student progress.
According to Literacy Kansas City’s website, “Approximately 225,000 adults in the Kansas City area function at the lowest literacy level.”
Literacy Kansas City acknowledges that children raised in impoverished households, especially those with health problemsor unemployed parents, often end up illiterate. The program targets those children.
Coulter’s student aspires to become a nurse.
“With each session, she tells me more about her life and what she has been through, and in spite of all of this, she never wants to stop trying,” Coulter said, admiring her student’s determination.
Coulter motivates herself by drawing onthe energy her student brings to each session.
“I want to teach later in life, and my experience with Literacy Kansas City has done nothing but reinforce my desire to teach,” Coulter said. “I have never been as rewarded by an experience as I have been with this program.”