Appreciating our pieces of the puzzle


      I can think of a million things I appreciate; my awesome in-laws, my husband, a sunny day, my daughter, a great pizza. But, I think that I overuse the word. So, I did what every youngster does these days; I Googled it. (Now, don’t get nervous. Seeing the definition in print was just helpful!)Google defines appreciate “1.) recognize the full worth of 2.) understand (a situation) fully: recognize the full implications of.” I appreciate each and every one of our volunteers, supporters, and students. It is like we are all puzzle pieces that fit together to make a big picture. If just one of the pieces is missing, we can’t be whole. Personally, I appreciate our volunteers, supporters and students. Every one of them puts forth so much effort and time to help build our community to be a stronger place.

This week, I’d like to focus on Google’s second definition; to understand the situation fully or to recognize the full implications of. I suppose the question here is do you recognize what our students face? It took me awhile to appreciate it, to be able to really understand. I’ve encountered a few things recently to help me appreciate what our students feel and the battle they face every day.

      1. A documentary about young girls and the education that helped shape their lives helped me comprehend the power of learning. Some of these girls risk their lives to learn. Although our students do not risk their lives to get to our lessons, they show great bravery to be here.
      2. The other day, a student was working on a pre-writing exercise. He seemed slightly uninterested at first, but when I kept pushing him he just stopped, with his pencil hovered over the paper. At first, I thought he was working out the spelling, so I told him to write first, edit later. Not looking up, he grinned, and I saw his eyes glow with excitement. He got it. He realized, at that exact moment, that he was writing a story. He was creating something. I witnessed him realizing for the first time that it was not a struggle the way it used to be.
      3. I was told by someone that a girl they know will never learn to read because they think she is dyslexic. This made me realize the challenge our world faces in conquering the stigma of illiteracy.
      4. John Corcoran, author of The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read stated in a speech that not teaching a child to read is a form of neglect. This made me realize the polar views of someone who used to not be able to read and someone who has never had to struggle to decode symbols into words.

I realize that the above examples are gloomy and they do not give off that happy-rainbows-and-butterflies-fuzzy feeling. However, it is a reality. It is a reality that I can fully grasp.

I am able to fully acknowledge the challenges that each of us faces and that aids me to have something beyond appreciation for all of our pieces to our puzzle. Because I fully understand the situation we all face, I am able to do more than recognize the worth of our volunteers, supporters, and students. I admire them. I appreciate and applaud their commitment, dedication, and hard work.

Courtney Keating, Education Coordinator

Teach the people

PeopleTree_600To continue our appreciation for the month we re-print an article from March 2005 newsletter.

“If you plan for a year, plant a seed.  If for ten years, plant a tree.  If for a hundred years, teach the people.  When you sow a seed once, you will reap a single harvest. When you teach the people, you will reap a                                                hundred harvests.”   —Kuan Chung

Our many tutors, volunteers, board members, and our office staff, enjoy the enriching experience of helping adults learn to read, perhaps, because these words of Kuan Chung are so true.  Tied with this hope of reaping a hundred harvests, however, is the reality that learning to read is a complex and often difficult process that requires strength and persistence from students and their tutors.

The process is complex because learning to read does not occur in an isolated environment between student and tutor.  Adults learning to read often face a wide variety of challenges and influences that are just as daunting as the tutoring process, if not more.  Adults are hindered by obstacles beyond their control—work issues, health problems, financial problems, legal problems, and personal or family problems.  In addition, adults may face mental and emotional obstacles such as expectations, self-esteem, level of family support, and past educational experience which can be barriers to participation.

The Literacy Center would like to thank and recognize the help from our tutors and the achievement of the adults who are learning to read and the adults who are now reading to learn.  The learning process is designed to develop and improve reading skills, but the persistence and eventual success represents much more than learning to read.  It represents adults overcoming the obstacles which stood in their way to a life of learning and self-fulfillment, the most plentiful and enjoyable harvest of all.

—Cory Kuhlenschmidt, 2005 Board Chair

Spring, Diamonds and Volunteers


April is my favorite month of the year. I might be a little partial due to the fact that my birthday is in the month but that is not the only reason.  Here are a few reasons why I love April:

  • Spring begins to arrive (warm and sunny is best),
  • the birthstone is a diamond (diamonds are a girls BF),
  • the daisy is the flower (great for a game of he loves me),
  • Easter is often celebrated in the month, (egg hunts and Peeps, oh my!),
  • Earth Day (‘reduce, reuse, recycle’),
  •  and then one of the best reasons I love April is that includes Volunteer Week; I doubt our Earth would ‘revolve’ without volunteers.

Our basic adult literacy program is a volunteer based program, we recruit individuals that love to read and want to teach that love of reading to someone that reading is difficult for or obstacles have gotten in the way.  Our program functions due to our volunteers, they are crucial to program.  We appreciate all of our volunteers and here are a few reasons why…

  1. Time: Our volunteer tutors spend hours preparing lessons and traveling to lessons and they spend many hours with the students active in lessons on a weekly basis, month after month. Our other volunteers like board members and event volunteers donate countless hours of time planning, organizing and assisting in numerous ways. What is more precious than time?
  2. Patience: they have it.
  3. Commitment: they commit to the time and they deliver.
  4. Accountable: they provide what we ask for, volunteer for what they can provide and don’t disappoint us.
  5. Respect: they give it.
  6. Enthusiasm:  theirs is contagious!

So, I love April because it gives us an opportunity to show our appreciation for those that give us time, patience, commitment, accountability, respect and enthusiasm. I have all this for our volunteers- a crucial part of our organization.   Please join us on Wednesday, April 30 at 6:30 pm for a celebration of our volunteers and students at Old National Bank.

Jennifer Wigginton, Executive Director

Quietly going about the business of changing lives…..


  • After finding out she was being promoted, Susan realized that her reading and writing skills would not be sufficient for the type of work she would soon be doing so she sought help from The Literacy Center.
  • Encouraged to hear about a place that may offer hope, Steven almost ran off the road looking for a pen to write down the phone number of The Literacy Center as he heard it announced on the radio while he was driving.
  • Marie gained confidence in being able to read on her own with the help of her tutor and wishes daily that her sister would admit to needing help as well.

While the names may have been changed, the scenarios are real.  These are just a few of the testimonies that I have heard one summer.  It reminded me that The Literacy Center, since 1966, has been quietly going about the business of changing lives without much fanfare.  And while the students often share how tutoring has impacted their lives, our volunteers also quietly admit that their lives have been changed because of the time they have donated at The Literacy Center – through tutoring, serving on the board, or helping to fundraise.

The Literacy Center may not make headlines and may not be featured on community blogs, but the work of the volunteers and students goes on.  And as long as we continue to be there for the students who quietly come to us asking for help, we’re okay with that.

Lori E. Saxby

Past Chair of The Literacy Center Board of Directors


Courtney Keating, Education Coordinator

Courtney Keating, Education Coordinator

Do you have a favorite word? Mine is ‘inspire’. Inspiration is such an enigma. We all know what it is, but it is different for all of us. And, do we really know where to find it? Inspiration is good at hiding when we need it most.

Inspire is a word that affects my daily life. Almost every day I think about whom or what inspires me and what actions I can do to inspire others. As an adult educator, I’m always looking out for inspiration, mainly because our students need to be inspired.

So, how can we inspire students to continue learning? That used to be a loaded question. But, I have found the answer! I’ll get back to that.

Let’s talk about why it’s a loaded question. Personally, I struggled to find inspiration because, like many of our volunteers, I’m not a teacher. I have a background in fitness (many, many years ago!), interior design, and I have a degree in history. I took classes like Textiles, Italian Mafia, and Mongolian Conquest. Although they were super fun, not one of them taught me how to teach or inspire others. I’m sure most of you took more practical classes (you know, math, maybe?), but did you ever take Teaching 101? No? Then keep reading, because I have it all figured out!

Last fall, I had the opportunity to attend the US Conference on Adult Literacy. I attended a workshop hosted by attorney, author, and Literacy Chicago volunteer, Rob Shindler. He had written a book, Hotdogs and Hamburgers, telling his story about why he became a literacy volunteer. I listened to him talk. I laughed at his jokes. (He was actually a very funny guy.) Then, Rob handed me a signed copy of his book. I had no idea that Rob just handed me the keys to unlock the doors of inspiration.

I won’t tell you all about the book. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. However, Rob’s book really spoke to me. His book made me realize that you don’t have to be a teacher to teach. Rob taught me that there are teachable moments in everything. I suppose I should say that Rob inspired me to see that there are teachable moments in everything. You just have to be inspired.

People learn in all sorts of ways. Sometimes, using workbooks don’t…well, work. Sometimes, that student gets bored and the information just doesn’t stick. Here’s where inspiration comes in. Does your student enjoy sports? I bet that student may learn a bit better if you can incorporate sports into his lesson. Does he struggle with word segmentation and he doesn’t get the concept of saying something in slow motion (in order to hear all the sounds in a word)? Take your lesson to a park (if spring ever actually arrives!) and play catch. He can toss you the ball, and as soon as the ball is released, he starts the word. He can’t finish the word until you catch it! He’ll be having fun, and learning too! And, let’s face it, that’s the best kind of learning!

While Rob’s book opened my eyes, it may not do the same for you. You may have your inspirational epiphany while fishing, or gardening. Maybe you’re a skydiver. Whatever it is you do, remember that Bob Dylan nailed it when he said the answer is blowing in the wind. The only requirement to gain inspiration is to de-cloud your mind and allow inspiration to penetrate.

Courtney Keating, Education Coordinator

Friends and Funds

Team- Hex Kex Lex Winners of Competitive Division

Team- Hex Kex Lex Winners of Competitive Division

How do we fund our basic adult literacy program? Our signature fundraiser, Letters for Literacy took place on Feb. 22 at Ivy Tech Commons.  We had eighteen teams compete in the competitive division and four teams compete in the fun division.  There were four rounds of competition and the teams that scored the highest amount of points combined, we crowned the winners!

The fun division was won by team, The Vowel Movements with a score of 864, second place went to SCRABBLE Slammers with a score of 812 and third place to Letter Rip with a score of 726.

The Competitive Division was won by team, Hex Kex Lex with a score  of 1499, second place to SCRABBLE Bliss with a score of 1437 and third place to the Poets with a score of 1326.

We congratulate the winners and each team that played in the tournament, not only for playing great rounds of SCRABBLE but supporting a worthy cause of helping adults learn to read.  One in five adults in our own community struggle with reading and our program helps them reach their educational goals with funds raised by friend/fundraising events like our signature event, Letters for Literacy SCRABBLE Tournament and Auction.  We greatly appreciate our sponsors: Ivy Tech Community College, SABIC, West Side Nut Club, Berry Plastics, The Pacetre bake and brew, Heritage Federal Credit Union, Hamlin Equipment Rental, Medical Cosmetic Center, Old National Bank, Evansville Courier & Press and Pro Mark. We couldn’t do it without the support of these sponsors.  We also couldn’t do it without the volunteers. Thanks to Julie Angle, Valerie Bush, Nancy Jobe, Jeanette Maier, Tanana Mahood, Rachel Nadeau, Kate Sherrill, Liz Walker, Nan Benedict, Jennifer Briggs,  Amy Bouchie, Katy Dunigan, Kathryn Gieneart-Nix, Denise Johnson-Kincaid, Leslie McCrary, Stacy Newton, Larry Oathout, Maddison Seib, Ron Whitler, Rick Wigginton, Christy Deputy, Reece Dewitt, Lori Saxby, Wendy Faust, Jennifer Reed, Gelina Mascoe and also to the volunteers that did not sign in!

So we raise funds with wonderful creative events that bring together friends and fun.  We are looking forward to our next event Crop for Literacy on July 26,  2014 at Harrison College.  I can’t end the article without mentioning our new event this year, Spell for Literacy, A Grown Up Spelling Bee on October 4, 2014 at Tropicana!


Jennifer Wigginton, Executive Director


Books versus Movies

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you ever heard someone say, “the book was so much better than the movie”?  Yes, we have all heard or said that at one time or another.  Why do you think that is so?  It’s easy.  What we imagine in our minds while reading a book cannot be replicated on a screen. Books not only open up our minds and ignite our imaginations; it can affect our emotions more so than watching a screen. Recently, I read a book on a topic that was very disturbing to me and I almost shut the book not to open it again; however, it was so well written that it drew me into the book to the point where I could not stop reading.  I did finish the book and am very happy I did. By the way, it was the first book the author had written.  I will definitely be watching for another book authored by him.

A Land More Kind Than Home

by Wiley Cash

Reading entertains and exercises the mind; it’s a necessary part of life.  We can’t live without it – or can we?  Many people do.

Linda Wulf, Board of Directors

Assistant Director  Center for Career Development at University of Evansville


What a week!

tshirt frontWho knew there was a flood warning on Monday night?  We sure didn’t! It has been a crazy week and we had a faulty toilet that filled it’s tank and the office floor.  We closed Tuesday and Wednesday due to this and Ivy Tech did a wonderful job of getting it all cleaned up during that time.  We are pretty dry now but the fans are still on.  Since we had to close we have extended registration for Letters for Literacy SCRABBLE® Tournament until 5:00 pm Friday, Feb. 21! So register today!

We support our program with fundraisers.  We don’t receive any state or federal funds. We think that fundraisers are also a great way to make friends!   Our first one of the year is the SCRABBLE® Tournament, it is our signature event and this Saturday is the 11th annual.  The best tip I can provide for those playing is to play as fast as you can.  Don’t take the minute and half to make your play, the rounds are 20 minutes each and if both teams take that long the scores will be low.  Play fast and smart. We appreciate this crowd as they also support the Silent Auction which is a big part of this event.

If you don’t play SCRABBLE®, we have our scrap-booking/crafting event on July 26 at Harrison College. This is a fun event for friends to gather to craft and socialize.

What I am real excited about is our first Spell for Literacy, A Grown Up Spelling Bee!  This will be super fun event at Tropicana on Saturday, October 4th.  I’m know recruiting committee members so send me an email if you are interested.  The more the merrier, I love all the brainstorming.

Why am I telling you about you our fundraisers? It is important to know how we support our program and allow friends of ours and new friends to help out and have a good time also.  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to keep in the loop.  You can also sign up for e-mail alerts on our several pages!

Thanks for reading!

Jennifer Wigginton


A student’s perspective on vowels

IMG_0052 (2)The Literacy Center is a place to be welcomed with open arms. Not just to learn how to read, spell, write, and speak well, but to learn how to respect yourself and make great new friends. The staff at The Literacy Center loves their jobs.  Their smiles are the give-away.

I have learned many things, but I started with vowels and vowel teams. You see, vowels are the bridge of a word; you can’t have a word without vowels! And just like vowels bridging words, The Literacy Center is the bridge from illiterate to literate.

A is for how Amazing the staff and tutors are.

E is for the Excellent program they have.

I is for the Independence they give you.

O is for the Outstanding work tutors give to all the students.

U is for the Understanding of all who walk in the door.

Y not sometimes, but always never being judged.

And like vowel teams, The Literacy Center is a great team. I am so fortunate I walked in that door.

Darrell Murray, 2013 Dollar General Foundation Student of the Year & Literacy Center Student

Students Goals & Barriers

kicking doorWhen was the last time you didn’t achieve a goal? What happened? What got in your way? See, we all have barriers. There is always something coming up. Frances Bacon said that “All rising to great places is by a winding stair.” This simply means that there are twists and turns on every path we take. The key is persevering; to keep going and metaphorically kick down the wall.

Our students encounter barriers, just like you. The difference is that not all of us know how to overcome these barriers. A few of the most common barriers for our students include bad work history, low self-esteem, no support system, or lack of transportation.  Something I have noticed is that these barriers all seem to be linked. They tend to snowball into bigger, and bigger problems for our students. So, how do we solve/overcome their barriers?

The first step is to want to overcome them. Our students decide this by walking in our door. We then ask them to reflect on their life. To fix a barrier is to first acknowledge that barrier. Really, how can you overcome it if you don’t realize what it is that is stopping you? Then we begin the fun part!

Their education begins immediately. As our students learn more, they can accomplish more. With every day, they gain the strength and courage to remove another piece of the wall that prevents them from moving forward. With hard work and determination, our students remove enough pieces of the wall, leaving the structure weak, allowing them to power through.

Courtney Keating,