Goshen News | Julie Crothers | February 15, 2015
GOSHEN — The Elkhart Literacy Project, a partnership between Horizon Education Alliance and Elkhart Community Schools adult education programs to provide tutoring for students, was created in 2012.
The project is funded by a grant from the Elkhart County Community Foundation.
“There are approximately 26,000 low literacy level adults in Elkhart County and for many years, there was no literacy program to help them,” said Kathy Royer, associate director of Horizon Education Alliance.
Today, adult education programs offered by Horizon Education Alliance and Elkhart schools serve about 1,000 adults, Royer said. But with so many participants and only a small group of teachers to assist, additional help was needed, she explained.
“We just felt like there were times when students needed tutors,” she said.
The tutoring program is currently offered in both Elkhart and Goshen.
In Elkhart, about 20 volunteer tutors assist roughly 20 students needing additional help with their coursework.
In Goshen, the tutor-to-student ratio isn’t as good, volunteer coordinator Carol Hemund said.
“We have maybe five students who are getting that one-on-one attention,” Hemund said, explaining that as many as 20 more could use the additional help.
All of the students who participate in the Elkhart Literacy Project are enrolled in either the Horizon Education Alliance or Elkhart Community Schools adult education programs.
Although some students are English-language learners, others are local residents who need help with skills such as balancing a checkbook or writing a letter, Royer said.
“Even if they are (English language learners), if they are enrolled in adult education their speaking skills are fine and they need help with writing and reading and that’s where the tutoring comes in,” she said.
Tutors aren’t required to provide the learning materials — nor do they need to be experts in any specific topic. The volunteers don’t need to have a college degree, but do need to be 18 or older.
“We have a lot of people in Goshen who would have the capability and the interest to do the tutoring,” Royer said, “we just don’t think they know about it.”