WINS for Literacy
Houston went through a lot this year, and we've still got a ways to go before we can say the city has recovered.
But you still accomplished a LOT for literacy!
Here are the highlights of what you made possible this year:
WIN #5: Training, support, and workshops, oh my!
New ways to support our amazing volunteers
Volunteer tutors make everything happen, and in 2017 there were more ways to get ideas and support than ever before!
What with our new online Tutor Support Group, that gathered 56 members by the end of the year (join now if you haven't already!), the Gulf Coast Literacy Symposium coming back for its second year (and now the third's in the works!) and our ever-popular roundtable workshop sessions, there were more ways to get ideas and help from fellow tutors than ever before.
Students and tutors alike loved the new Theme of the Month and accompanying Waiting Class lessons plans, so both will be back in 2018 (our fave theme just might be “Houston”, which we focus on in March to coincide with the Texas Livestock Show & Rodeo).
When tutors are happy, informed, and inspired, the students learn more - and in the end it's all about the students!
WIN #4: Specialized help for student beginners
Hand-picked resources for those who need us most
Reading students consolidated the progress they made last year with new and expanded Reading Practice Group sessions. Students formed supportive friendships, had regular opportunities to learn together and from one another, and turned up to Around the World in record numbers!
For adults just beginning to learn English, specialized materials with short videos helped them focus on JUST conversation skills, without the distraction and stress of having to read and write as well. At the Bay Area campus, beginning English learners got extra help through new "Vocabulary Classes" which helped them learn more quickly and gain confidence.
When students are confident enough to practice outside of class, it makes ALL the difference...
WIN #3: Coordinated class schedules
New structure brings new possibilities
Defined semesters in the spring and fall also brought new opportunities during the summer.
The summer of 2017 saw record numbers of classes with a special focus - the majority centered around job readiness, which remains a core goal for most of our students. There were new opportunities to practice job interview skills, write resumes, improve computer literacy, and even learn more about budgeting and financial issues.
Students very much valued the chance to attend short-term, topic-specific classes, and greater numbers of both students and volunteers stayed engaged over the summer when previously vacation, travel, and family commitments prevented them from completing classes during that time.
WIN #2: Expanded opportunities for students
Focused, practical classes through partnerships
Some of the opportunities above were made possible through community partnerships. The United Way THRIVE Center in Bay Area helped lead a series of classes on financial literacy, and we welcomed guest presenters from Memorial Herman Hospital to lead health literacy classes on topics such as "Good Questions for Good Health", focused on talking with the doctor when English isn't your first language, and "Healthcare Access". And over the summer, students had the opportunity to attend special conversation classes, with a social aspect, offered by Houstonia Magazine!
Specialists from partners across the city enrich Literacy Advance class offerings and help students learn in new and different ways. We hope to welcome more of them in 2018!
WIN #1: The overwhelming support and dedication of our Houston community
What would we ever do without you all?!
Hurricane Harvey changed the landscape of Houston, both physically and emotionally. Many in our community are still feeling its effects and will for some time to come. We have been unable to contact a full one-third of our students, even after many attempts, and our fall semester was irregular and difficult for many tutors and students alike to complete, given many competing priorities and the ongoing process of recovery.
But the support and love of our Houston community was a bright light in the darkness and chaos of the storm and its aftermath. Never have we felt more thankful for you or more grateful to be part of such a dedicated, compassionate group of neighbors!
Together, we remain #HoustonStrong, and we know you'll be there in the new year too, and beyond. THANK YOU. These WINS are yours, and you should be proud!
You made many things happen in 2017 – now please help make 2018 full of successes for eager students.
Please give a tax-deductible gift so that more great WINS are possible. Thank you, thank you!