The Tutorial Center Brought Best Practices to National Conference on Literacy Crisis

TTC attended first-ever national conference on adult education and literacy to represent state and local needs

Jack Glade, Janice Leslie, and Jan Bopp of The Tutorial Center in Bennington and Manchester presented workshops to hundreds of literacy organizations from around the country who attended the first-ever national conference on adult basic education and literacy in Chicago, Ill., the week of March 15.

“With record job losses and demand for services soaring, there has never been a more crucial time for this conference. It will bring greater attention to the adult literacy crisis estimated to impact one in seven adults nationally,” said Glade, Executive Director of The Tutorial Center.

The Tutorial Center is a member of ProLiteracy, the world’s largest organization of adult basic education and literacy programs with 1,200 community based members in the U.S.  In Vermont, The Tutorial Center is a member organization of LearningWorks, Vermont’s adult education and literacy system. Glade, Leslie, and Bopp presented two separate workshops on exemplary literacy programs offered at The Tutorial Center.

The conference, co-hosted by ProLiteracy and the Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE), brought together more than 1,500 education experts; political leaders, including Obama administration representatives; and adult learners to discuss strategies to address funding shortages and increase collaborations as the demand for services continues to grow across the country.

Doing so, they join a roster of presenters that will feature prominent national speakers and advocates who will draw attention to America’s expanding literacy crisis including Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education; Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of the Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor; Byron Pitts, Chief National Correspondent for the CBS Evening News, “60 Minutes” contributor, author, and champion of personal literacy struggles; Scott Simon, NPR Weekend Edition Saturday host and author; and David Harvey, President and CEO, ProLiteracy.

“This inaugural joint conference marks a historic milestone in adult education, when we bring together top political and industry advocates to try to open America’s eyes to the adult literacy crisis, which affects 32 million adults and their families,” said David C. Harvey, president and CEO of ProLiteracy.

Social Enterprise World Forum Tapped TTC Exec. Director

Jack Glade, The Tutorial Center Executive DirectorOur Executive Director, Jack Glade, was very busy this spring recruiting presenters and reviewing nearly 100 proposals from international leaders in the cutting edge movement known as “social enterprise,” as part of his role as program co-chair for the Social Enterprise Summit and 3rd World Forum, held in San Francisco April 28-30, 2010.

“A ‘social enterprise’ is an organization that blends non-profit and for-profit business practices in order to tackle a social problem such as illiteracy, hunger, unemployment, or disease,” explains Glade. Growing numbers of leaders all over the world are seeing social enterprise as an important tool for improving the lives of people living in hunger or struggling with illiteracy.

The Tutorial Center is a good example of a social enterprise, says Glade. The Tutorial Center is a non-profit organization that uses a core of strong business-based practices – market research, client satisfaction, cost-effective services, fee-for-service products, financial management, research-based methods, and focus on outcomes – to tackle illiteracy through high-quality literacy instruction, accessible academic tutoring, work-readiness training, alternative high school education, and college access.

“Our outcomes of helping children succeed in school, increasing the literacy levels of adults, decreasing the high school dropout rate, and helping those who have dropped out to earn high school diplomas and go on to college and jobs are very strong,” he says.

Internationally, there is a growing awareness of how the social enterprise approach often provides higher-impact solutions to social challenges than traditional nonprofit and charity methods. The Social Enterprise Summit and 3rd World Forum engaged non-profit and for-profit leadership from all over the world in building the capacity of social enterprises to tackle the social, environmental, and economic challenges of our time.

Details can be found at www.se-alliance.org or call Jack at 447-0111.

Bridge to College & Careers changes lives

Tutorial Center Achieves Success through Educational Diversity

Battenkill Business Journal

Published January 14, 2010

By ASHLEY M. FRANK

Jan Bopp and Tutorial Center Bridge to College StudentsThe Tutorial Center and the people behind it have made it their goal to support and encourage a diverse and rapidly growing list of educational needs in Bennington County and beyond.

Its two learning centers, located on Pleasant Street in Bennington and Richville Road in Manchester, have helped students from kindergarten through adult education by supplying them with necessary skills whether it be learning how to read, conquering math anxiety or preparing for college examinations.

The center’s current capabilities are an impressive leap from its Bennington beginnings in 1971, when three instructors worked with about 10 students with the assistance of a small grant.

Now in its 38th year, the two branches employ nearly 30 full-and part-time instructors and serve roughly 1,000 students of all ages annually.

Both the original Bennington learning center and the Manchester location, which opened about 14 years ago, are “flat-out busy,” according to Jack Glade, director of the Tutorial Center. This is in a large part due to the organization’s willingness to adapt and accommodate residents.

“Anyone who has an educational need should give us a call,” said Glade. “That’s what we’re here for.”

As the state-designated adult-education provider for Bennington County, The Tutorial Center offers three avenues for a high school diploma or its equivalent: GED (General Education Development) preparation and testing, which is a high school completion program, in which participants can take necessary classes to receive a high school diploma; and the Adult Diploma program, which is based around “real life” applications and competencies.

One of the major benefits of these programs is the staff’s knowledge and readiness to help find the right fit for each individual. For those who have already earned a high school diploma or GED, there is the award-winning Bridge-to-College program.

A partnership with the Community College of Vermont (CCV) in Bennington, the program is designed for adult students interested in higher education, but not quite ready for it. Perhaps a student is worried about re-entering the classroom or would like to brush up on a few things before taking on college-level work.

Classes are held on the CCV campus. The program, which tends to have between 10 and 15 students every semester, boasts high success rates. More than 200 adults have participated to date.

The organization has also seen great successes with its English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Like Bridge-to-College, these courses use immersion as a learning tool, and have proved so effective that local employers, such as manufacturing company Plasan, have contracted classes that can be tailored to their employees’ needs.

The sessions are structured so that the students can get exactly what they need, and result in an improvement in on-the-job communication and a personal, productive experience.

The format and flexibility of these ESL sessions has been transferred into other areas of opportunity, particularly technology. “There was a real community need for workshop-oriented classes,” said Glade, and The Tutorial Center has helped to fill the gap.

There are classes that tackle basic and general computer skills and more specific programs such as Microsoft Excel or QuickBooks. In late 2007, the Manchester office began running a popular series of digital photography workshops. Some people attend for fun; many others are self-employed or small-business staff, and see these workshops as opportunities to build or strengthen business-related skills.

In addition to technology classes, instruction is offered in more general areas like math in the workplace.

“A downturn in the economy always increases the demand for education, and right now is no exception,” said Glade. “People who have been laid off or are looking for work often need to build or strengthen their skill sets, and here is a great opportunity to do that.”

The Tutorial Center also has a wide range of possibilities available to younger students. Area high schools refer students who might benefit from the center’s flexible, but closely monitored atmosphere.

These students often work one-on-one with instructors, earning a diploma that previously may have seemed out of reach. Afternoons find every room filled with young students looking for assistance or enrichment. They prepare for SAT and ACT, the college entrance exam; seek extra support in a subject they may be struggling in; or take advantage of personalized discussion and feedback in areas they would like to concentrate on.

“We are a full-service center and offer the complete range of education: remedial, enrichment, core-skill work,” said Glade.

As a successful and valuable nonprofit with balanced funding, Glade said that at the national level, The Tutorial Center is seen as a “model for what a community educational center can be: we serve all pieces of the community, are financially sustainable and responsive to what is needed.”

For more information, call the center’s Bennington office at 802.447.0111, or the Manchester office at 802.362.0222.

Summer Tutoring Helps Avoid Vacation Skills/Memory Slump

Keep your child connected during the break. Recent studies show that over the summer, your young student can lose lots of momentum, facts, skills, and motivation! These same studies also show that just as little as an hour or two a week of tutoring over summer vacation can exponentially reduce the student’s Fall semester start-up curve and help her/him hit the ground running!

We can help with any subject, any grade. Our experienced tutors will help with skill building, subject knowledge, study skills, motivation, and year-end test-taking. You can sign up for as little as 1 hour a week for a few weeks or as much as you want.

Don’t let the summer slip by and your student lose what he learned over the last year. Call us in Bennington at 447-0111, or in Manchester at 362-0222.

Bridge to College Alumni: Ashley Cunningham

  • rockstar_ashleyCompleted Bridge-to-College Program Fall Semester 2007
  • Enrolled in college courses at Community College of Vermont – Bennington as part-time student, Spring Semester 2008 through Fall Semester 2008, as married mother of three children with part-time employment
  • Awarded A.A.U.W. Scholarships for Female Non-traditional Students both Spring and Fall Semesters 2008
  • Became full-time college student at CCV Spring Semester 2009

In her own words:

I had my first child at the age of 14. Not knowing where to turn, I went to Sunrise Family Resource Center for family development support. While participating in their educational program for teen parents and moms-to-be, I was fortunate to take part in an activities-based reading series called the “Tell Me a Story Project” provided by The Tutorial Center. That project taught us how to interact with books and with our children. We read aloud and acted out the children’s books that we would read with our children. We also did hands-on activities and neat little art projects about the books that we could do with our children as their first teachers. My child loved it!

After I graduated with a high school diploma, I didn’t feel as if I was ready for college yet. So once again not knowing where to do, I went to The Tutorial Center and asked if I could go back to school: “ha ha,” as crazy as that sounds. The interviewer looked at me and told me that I was talking to the wrong person. I needed to be talking with Jan Bopp about the Bridge-to-College Program. I was nervous, but agreed. In came Jan (the Tell Me a Story man) and we started talking about the transition program and how it would help me get ready for college-level classes and how to be successful in college. For some reason I trusted him. It sounded like he knew his stuff; and what did I have left to lose, nothing, only something to gain.”Only to gain” was right.

While I was in Bridge-to-College, I not only received the help I asked for, but much more. I gained a wide knowledge base covering all academic basics and a family of fellow students. Everyone in our program group was absolutely wonderful. We all got along and felt comfortable with each other and the staff right away. I can’t even express how much I gained from this program. If the Bridge-to-College had not been available, I’m not sure where I would be right now. I don’t even want to think about that.

I graduated from Bridge-to-College and am currently working full-time on an Associate’s Degree in Business. I have 30 credits as of Spring Semester 2009, and will have one full year ahead of me to complete the requirements for my degree.
Thank you so much, Tutorial Center, for having made this opportunity available. To anyone else for whom this chance comes along, take it. You will not regret it.