Making Great Strides Through Literacy Programs

Andrea walked into the Bridging to Literacy space in Ashcroft with a keen sense of determination. She stated that she wished to take another chance at learning, and to improve her literacy skills.

In January, 2015, approximately five years after she last attended a session with a tutor, she was connected with Ann Belcham, the Literacy Outreach Coordinator in Ashcroft.

“[When] Andrea started coming to me in January, [she was] a non-reader with a very limited number of sight vocabulary words,” Ann recalls. “When she got out her ‘resources,’ she had some books that she used a stylus for, to make them talk.”

In that session, they played games with one of the books, and Ann was able to get a good evaluation of what Andrea knew, and a sense of how keen she was to learn.

“I started [Andrea] on the A-Z tutoring program for children as she was comfortable with that concept. We used flash cards to learn sight vocabulary, make sentences, and to see how words can look alike,” Ann says.

Andrea read the books eagerly, and as she progressed, she carefully wrote out sentences, using the story so that she could learn her words.


“I pushed her a bit every week so she didn’t go out of her comfort zone,” Andrea remembers. “Her progress was amazing and her support system at home was great.”

Together, both tutor and learner formed a strong bond.  The improvements were almost immediate – significantly, these changes reached far beyond reading books.

“We have a great relationship,” Ann says. “We laugh and tease each other each week. We talk about a lot of things that have to do with the stories we are reading. We look up concepts on the internet and use pictures to see what we are talking about. It is fun to help her broaden her horizons.”

Andrea has achieved true success – she has even overcome an obstacle that could easily have been discouraging.

Developing learners need a strong amount of support and encouragement, but while her support system at home was a strong one, it waned as the season changed and more people tended to occupy themselves with outdoor activities. She felt like at one point, the encouragement she felt from her social networks to go to her sessions had diminished.

However, her keen sense of determination, endured and she continues to learn new things both in her tutor sessions and at home.

“Andrea continues to move forward. What she has learned and continues to learn has grown,” Ann says. “She tries to sound out words now and looks for little words in the big word. She knows about compound words and looks for the two words in them.”

Andrea’s main goal is to get her driver’s license, but she has also reached other goals along the way – goals that she may not have known about when she first began attending sessions at Bridging to Literacy.

“She hit a milestone in late May,” Ann reports proudly. “She got a smart phone and can use it. She’s able to know the names on her contact list using both words and pictures. She showed me her pictures and a few of the things she can do on the phone. We celebrated that milestone.”

Andrea has become a great lifelong learner. “I have to say I am very proud of her and how far she has come,” notes Ann. “She is doing wonderfully.”

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