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News & Updates for May 2019

newsThis month:


Newsletter and website updates

Making sure we stay in touch with you!

We're continuing to make progress in fully integrating Literacy Advance as a program of Memorial Assistance Ministries. Volunteers should have now started getting the MAM Volunteer e-Newsletter, which replaces our Opening Doors e-News, and we're working on the best ways to keep Literacy Advance volunteers informed about Wilcrest-specific updates. 

Further, this website will be going away by the end of June, 2019. We're working to move essential info to the MAM website.  Remember that you can continue to get news and updates on the MAM Literacy Advance Facebook page, and for volunteer tutors, within our closed Facebook group.

Throughout these updates, please be vocal! If something isn't working for you - let us know. If you didn't receive a mailing, or you feel like you're missing something important, or you can't find something on the website - please tell us! We're doing our best to make things as smooth as possible, but we know there will be glitches. Please tell us if they happen to you, and know we'll do our best to sort things out for you as quickly as possible.

Contact Kathryn Bauchelle with any questions or problems: 713.266.8777, or

Thank you for your patience and for being a stalwart Literacy Advance volunteer. We appreciate you more than we can say!


Congratulations, Ruth

A new adventure (and not far away!)

In early May, Ruth Iglesias moved into a new opportunity at our Blalock campus (MAM's main campus). MANY students, staff, volunteers, and guests have gotten to know and love Ruth since she joined the Literacy Advance team in 2003. Now, she’s helping to manage a bigger, busier lobby so that even more adults and families can feel welcomed and supported as they seek out MAM’s programs and services.

Ruth at Blalock
We miss seeing Ruth’s smile in the Wilcrest lobby, but are so excited for her to take on this new endeavor! Join us on Facebook to wish her well, and keep an eye out for her when you're next visiting MAM Blalock.


Welcome Sara!

From volunteer to Volunteer Coordinator

Earlier this month, MAM welcomed Sara Rodriguez as our new Wilcrest Volunteer Coordinator. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and a native Spanish speaker, Sara has been motivated by service to others since her teens.

Throughout 2018 and early 2019, Sara actively tutored ESL classes at Literacy Advance, where she’s gotten to know many students, staff, resources, including many of you! When you see Sara around Wilcrest, please say hello.


Emergency Preparedness

Are you ready for Hurricane Season?

hurricane preparednessHurricane Season officially begins next month, so now is the time to help your students prepare for weather-related emergencies.

The winter 2019 edition of the ProLiteracy Notebook (one of our favorite resources year-round!) provides tips on how to integrate flood preparedness into your literacy instruction this summer.

You might also spend a few minutes with your class helping to model calls to the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way helpline, or work through additional disaster readiness activities such as those found at Texas Prepares.

And remember to check for weather information on Facebook, any time you're not sure if classes are on or if the office is closed.


You’re invited!

Students get ready to FLY

This month, we’re celebrating 18 students who have completed the Advanced English course this semester.

Join us in the atrium at 2424 Wilcrest for an ESL Graduation Celebration on

Tuesday, May 28 from 6pm – 7:30pm

RSVP to Colleen by Monday, May 27. We so much hope you can join in the celebration!


Theme of the Month


This month’s resources focus on Housing.

We LOVE May’s theme, because every newcomer, regardless of their ESL level, must consider their need for safe, affordable housing.

This month, we’ve compiled a number of reading, writing, conversation, and listening activities that will help you prepare students with the skills and knowledge to make a home in Houston. Find all the resources listed below in the Wilcrest Resource Room.


If you’re keeping Beginning level students engaged this month, you may like to show them activities from Talk Time that help them identify and discuss common household items. Students will work with partners to identify what's necessary in a home, and what items or qualities are more aspirational.

To provide even more context, you might integrate the reading comprehension activities from That’s Life, where students meet characters who are knee-deep in moving house and must seriously reconsider what items are necessary.


We’ve pulled even more comprehension activities for Intermediate level students, who are a great fit for the What’s Next? series. If you’ve never tried What’s Next?, this is the month to take a look!

Students will work through listening, sentence building, and conversation activities after reading about a family seeking a new apartment at a reasonable price. You might end the lesson with students making prediction, or borrow the book from the Resource Room to keep the conversation going.


Last month, we reminded everyone that there is a full page of resources curated just for you on the Literacy Advance website. In May, we’ve highlighted two activities from one of those resources, Boggles World ESL, to integrate the Housing theme with Advanced level students.

In pair and group activities, students take on the role of apartment seekers, landlords, and potential roommates in order to find housing options that best fit their needs. Get ready – these activities will get your students out of their seats and working together!

One note of caution: We know you care deeply about your students, so this month, you might first consider how your students came to Houston before introducing Housing-related activities. Refugees or asylum seekers who had to leave their homes may interpret the theme differently from others who have had different experiences. Ultimately, we still hope you will help all students through this month’s activities so they can more confidently manage their current or future housing situations. Please talk to staff if we can help!  

The rest of the year:

Month Theme Possible lesson content
June  Jobs How to apply for jobs; interview skills; what's typical in a US-style resume 
July  Getting Ready for School  Getting kids ready to go back to school; options at school including after-school care and clubs
August Shopping & Restaurants  Houston Restaurant Weeks; loyalty clubs and benefits; online shopping risks and benefits 
September  Immigration & Citizenship  Requirements for U.S. citizenship including eligibility, paperwork, and fees
October Health    Health Literacy Month; questions to ask the doctor; advocating for your own health; open enrollment in the ACA
November Libraries   What's available at your local library? What does the library provide online? 
Theme of the Month on hiatus for December

Every month, we will feature resources and ideas that match the theme. Discovered something excellent? Let us in on your secrets! Talk to Colleen with ideas and new resources that match the theme.


Top Tutor Tips

Resources curated just for you

All too often, you tell us how frustrating it can be to hear that students are practicing English only while they're in the classroom.

We know (and we know you know!) that students will learn more, and learn faster, when they practice daily. But adult students are often inhibited by lack of confidence, or access barriers.

You’ve recently heard about ways we’re further integrating technology into our learning pathways as a way of overcoming these barriers, including using Burlington English in our Workplace ESL classes. And this summer, we’re thrilled to offer another option for language learners to get extra practice, outside the classroom.

This summer, the ESL program at MAM (both Blalock and Wilcrest  campuses) and two other community partners have joined forces to compete in the XPrize Communities Competition. Throughout the competition, our team is working to get free, quality mobile learning tools into the hands of adult learners.

We’re specifically promoting the Cell-Ed app as a free tool for learners to download on their mobile phones. The app emphasizes functional literacy for learners at all proficiency levels, and looks similar to what students see when they’re texting with friends or family.

We hope you'll help us share the app with students! You can help by spending a few minutes in your class assisting students to download the Cell-Ed app from their App Store (which store they need will differ by phone type) and entering the code 5566 to join our team.

Encourage your students to use the app frequently for extra practice outside of the classroom. Learners may be surprised by how quickly they learn when English becomes part of their daily routines.

For more information or instructions to download the app, please talk to Colleen


Bad weather? Not sure if class is on?

Step One: Check Facebook

We know that weather in Houston can be unpredictable. Sometimes we don't have a lot of notice that we'll need to close the office and cancel classes, and we don't always have time to call everyone. 

Facebook is a quick and easy way to update lots of people at once, so the Literacy Advance Facebook page always has the most up-to-date information about closings in cases of bad weather.

If you think there's a chance we might be closed, please check the page rather than calling the office. Look for this image, and click on it for the latest update:

You can check the Facebook page even if you don't have a Facebook account, so please bookmark the link above. And remind your students to do the same!

Of course, if the bad weather is local to your neighborhood, and you're the one who needs to cancel class because you're concerned about driving, please do call us and let us know.


Student Success Spotlights

Don't miss our Student Success Spotlights!

You helped make them possible.


Calendar Highlights

What's ahead? Mark your calendar!

calendarWe always want you to be up to date! So highlights of the Literacy Advance calendar are summarized below.

A more complete calendar can always be found online here, or you can check our Facebook Events page

Spring Semester 2019:
Monday, January 14 - Friday, May 24

Summer Semester 2019:
May 3 - August 24 (16-week classes)
May 28 - August 24 (12-week classes)

Spring Graduation
Tuesday, May 28

Around the World
(11th annual student and volunteer celebration)
Friday, November 8

Last day of classes for 2019
Saturday, December 21


Find more information just for volunteers:

And finally - don't miss the Volunteer Spotlight!

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