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STAR Literacy earns national honor

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NORMAL — The director of an adult literacy program is excited to learn that her team of teachers, volunteers and students have received national recognition and that other literacy organizations will learn from their program.

The STAR Literacy Program of the DeWitt-Livingston-McLean Regional Office of Education is one of 10 programs across the nation being recognized for its achievements in adult literacy. As a result it will be included in a national project funded by the UPS Foundation and ProLiteracy America.

“We’re the only one selected in Illinois and there were a lot of applications,” said Joyce Fritsch, the program’s director who is delighted with the news. “It’s impressive to be one of 10 in the nation,” she said.

“When we began 20 years ago, and wanted to put volunteers in the classroom, we had to prove that was a good way to go,” she said. Most programs for adult literacy had one on one tutors, but the problem with that was that sometimes the tutor couldn’t make it or the student missed a class, and it made it difficult for students to do well on tests.

Under the system used in Bloomington and Normal, a teacher leads the way and trained volunteers teach smaller groups.

“It takes a special teacher to work with volunteers,” she said. The teacher had to realize that you get more done with more hands, she said.

As a winner the group will also received $3,000 which will be used to support volunteers, and hold extra workshops.

“We think it’s quite an honor to be recognized on a nation wide basis,” said DeWitt-Livingston-McLean regional superintendent Larry Daghe. “Joyce and her staff should be commended,” he said.

The program touches a number of people in the community. Last year, 133 STAR volunteers provided 7,725 hours of service to 508 adult students including 343 English as a Second Language students at nine different locations in Bloomington and Normal.

Over the next 18 months STAR staff and volunteers (Sharing The Ability to Read) will share their experiences with others to help programs around the country enhance others who instruct English as a Second Language.

The program here which has been funded by a grant from the Illinois Secretary of State Literacy Office since 1986, will be part of the ProLiteracy program by sharing its ideas of training volunteer tutors in the GED/Adult Literacy adult basic education and English as a Second Language.

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