Joining Forces to Raise Funds for Literacy

 

 

 

 

 

Joining Forces to Raise Funds for Literacy

For a summer campaign, LearningQuest has joined forces with SPIE’s The Literacy Network of Stanislaus County and The Modesto Bee’s News in Education program to create awareness and support literacy programs available to community members of all ages.

If you believe that promoting literacy in the home, at school and throughout one’s life, take the time to learn more about these organizations below and the work they do to instill the skills necessary for a lifetime of learning.

Take it a step further and be an advocate for literacy by “Signing On to Literacy 2018” HERE

Check out the Flyer with Mail In Instructions HERE

 

            

Silvia’s Stand for Learning

The need to learn is one felt by all different kinds of people.  In adult education, we find ourselves working with students who have dealt with harsh circumstances and where education has often taken a back seat to other priorities.  Whether it is dropping out of school at an early age, facing jail time, or, like Silvia’s story, simply needing a fresh start in another country…no story is the same.

 

Silvia Cazarin was born and raised near the Gulf of Mexico in a caring family where she was able to focus on education and some of the finer things in life, like interior design and oil painting.  Her hard-working father made it possible for Silvia to grow up with breakfast served in bed and not having to cook or clean.  She had a supportive family that allowed her to flourish in her studies and hobbies which eventually led to a degree in and opening a business for interior design.  She met an American who asked her to move back to the United States with him, especially since she was about to give birth to their daughter.  With only her father left living, but extremely sick, she chose to stay; taking care of her father was Silvia’s priority.

 

After some time Silvia’s father passed away and her neighborhood began to descend into crime, kidnapping, and murder.  With three close friends being kidnapped, two of which murdered, she knew she needed to escape as the dangers began to build against her.  With nothing but a suitcase in one hand and her 15 year-old daughter’s hand in the other, Silvia set out for the United States.

 

It has been two years since Silvia left Mexico to brave a new world of opportunities for her daughter and for herself.  Barely able to speak English, she enrolled, joined, and participated in any English program she could find.  Silvia applied for MJC’s English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) program as well as signing up with LearningQuest for one-on-one reading and writing tutoring.

 

Silvia entered the LearningQuest tutoring program reading English at a fifth grade level, but needing even more support with writing and communication skills.  It took her just over a year and she is already reading at a seventh grade level, making huge strides of improvement in her English writing and speaking.  Finding the right tutor-student match is essential to success and Silvia’s tutor, Linda Reachert, has continued to guide her along this journey.  Silvia said, “My tutor is amazing, she is very educated, nice, and is willing to do anything to help me.”

 

In a year, Silvia has taken a noble approach to stepping outside of the comfort zone her privileged upbringing provided her by eagerly working to learn and experience more.  For Silvia, mundane tasks like cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry were skills she wanted to develop just as much as her focus on improving her English and keeping up with her studies. She recently found a job as a tennis instructor, has been awarded the 2018 Student Achievement Award in Literacy by the Literacy Network of Stanislaus County, and has come to enjoy borrowing cook books from the library, shopping for ingredients, and then tackling recipes.   Linda compliments Silvia’s outstanding commitment to learning, her sharp mind, humble attitude, and ability to learn and adapt in any situation.

 

Silvia’s start was a kind one that many don’t usually experience, but the determination she needed to change her life, and her daughter’s life, is something we recognize in all of our students.  Silvia’s grit and purpose have created so many more opportunities for her to grow and become the person she knows she can be.

Believing in Herself Pays Off for Crista Davis

Written by: Denise Nordell

 

Overcoming obstacles is a common theme among LearningQuest students. Sometimes the obstacles are tangible: difficult family situations, learning disabilities, trouble with the law, poverty or substance abuse. Sometimes the obstacles are internal, as Crista Davis can attest.

Crista’s biggest challenge was her self-doubt and struggles with feeling overwhelmed. But then she enrolled in Enterprise RESTART, which she credits with putting her back on track to pursue her goals. With the intervention of a guidance counselor and attending a program to work on her self-confidence she began to believe in herself, recognize her abilities and overcome her fears.

Crista reached out to Social Services in 2017 and a supervisor referred her to LearningQuest. Academically, Crista found math and writing to be her most difficult subjects. “But the instructors believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” she says, and she was able to complete her GED in a little less than two years. Crista is especially grateful to instructors Jason and Hallie, as well as Rosie and Reyna, who helped with her transition out of the program. She is also thankful to family members who supported her along the way, especially her sister, Lakisha, who traveled from San Jose to see Crista graduate in March.

Crista had more than her share of personal difficulties, including living in foster care and being a single mother of four. Along the way she would tell herself, “If I could overcome other obstacles in my life, I could do this, too.” The journey has not been easy, but Crista is hopeful and enthusiastic about the future. Her next step is to continue her education and to someday work with the community, helping others who are struggling with problems she has faced herself. According to Crista, “There is always a way out.”

Crista has come to realize that everything that she believed about herself was nothing more than the negative talk of others who wanted to tear her down. What advice does Crista have for someone who is thinking about getting a GED? “Use your life experience and believe in yourself,” she says. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t!”

    

We Made it to Graduation!

In only six months, the goal of helping 90 HSE students graduate was within reach…

LearningQuest instructors worked with the students every chance they could to prepare them to earn that shimmering certificate.  Zachary Lake, an instructor recently awarded for his proactive attitude in the organization, tells his students “…that each step they take and each day they come to class to prepare leads them that much closer to realizing their dreams for success.”

In order to walk the stage at the Graduation & Awards Night, LearningQuest High School Equivalency (HSE) students were required to pass 5 tests in the following subjects: Math, Reading, Writing, Science and Social Studies.  They had to show up and work hard, even if it became difficult or if life aligned them with another hurdle to jump.  Zachary said, “I tell them that they should already feel pride in their decision to obtain their HSE, it is time worth spent. The challenges they face help make them more successful in the future and not only help them reach their goal of getting their HSE, but have far reaching positive consequences toward their overall success in life, whether through college, a career or beyond.”

 

Finally on March 30th, 2018, LearningQuest honored 89 graduates and 3 award winners:

Best Effort: Crista Davis

Most Improved: Mayra Gonzalez

Greatest Achievement: Juan Hernandez

  

There was a buzz of excitement and nervousness as the graduates mingled behind the Modesto High School auditorium, dressing in their purple cap and gown.  A sense of relief and nostalgia floated around them as they talked with instructors and reminisced with classmates on shared struggles and memorable moments.  Spirits soared as they walked into a cheering auditorium with “Pomp and Circumstance” trumpeting them down the aisle and into their seats.  Grinning, they crossed the stage as their names were called, and after the ceremony ended, dispersed into the crowds of roaring chants and embraces from proud family and friends.

Their time with LearningQuest was brief, but nonetheless a distinct instance where the path toward better things has become even more of a possibility.  These graduates have changed our lives as much as we have changed theirs and we wish them the best in everything they do.

Congratulations again to the 2018 Spring LearningQuest Graduates!

Success after graduation: Michael Enriquez

Michael Enriquez graduated from Learning Quest Stanislaus Literacy Centers in 2012.  Since graduating, Michael has worked in the construction field and is currently employed with California Drywall doing metal stud framing and sheetrock. He is also attending classes with the goal of receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in Construction Management.

He is so thankful for the staff and volunteer tutors for being so helpful.   When asked what advice would he give to a current student, Michael stated, “Stick it out when you feel like giving up; it is well worth it.  If I had given up, I would not have been able to land a very well paying and rewarding career. That piece of paper is the start to a bright future.”

Michael appreciates quality time with his family which includes his fiance, three children and one more on the way.  In his spare time, also likes visiting San Francisco, hiking and fishing.  Great job Michael, we are so happy for your success!

Just in time to become a Tutor!

Don’t miss the upcoming Volunteer Tutor Orientation and Training!

  • Real impact on improving someone else’s life
  • Flexible schedule
  • One-on-one volunteer tutoring at the Modesto Library and other sites that work for you
  • Tutors and students are matched based on schedule and skill level
  • LearningQuest staff are readily available for support
  • Training on tutoring and literacy standards before getting started

 

2-STEP PROCESS

Tutor Orientation

Modesto Library, 100 I St.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

7:00 pm – 7:30 pm

 

Tutor Training

Modesto Library, 100 I St.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

11:30 am – 3:00 pm

 

Call 209-558-4505 to reserve your spot!

 

LearningQuest, the adult literacy program for Stanislaus County, provides training for volunteers 18 years and older who would like to become a reading tutor for an adult.  The training will give new tutors the knowledge needed to teach effectively, including: the special dynamics of an adult learner, the differences in how people learn, the use of the Laubach phonics-based system of teaching reading, plus other literacy materials. All tutors receive ongoing staff support and there is no further cost for materials.  There is a small and one-time $10 fee to cover the expense of materials. If, for any reason, you cannot afford the cost of the training, please request a cost waiver when registering.

 

 

 

 

Arowa’s Promise

Arowa Ghazi was born and raised in the traditional culture of Yemen where she was entitled to the Bride Price for her hand in marriage.  Instead of demanding material items like money, clothes, or a house, she made her fiancé promise to provide her with an education.  He agreed, but did not follow through after the wedding…that was just the beginning of Arowa’s story.

It seemed that the goal of education was put behind her when, after two years of marriage and two daughters, her husband moved their family to the United States.  Now in Texas with young children at home, Arowa’s husband had forbidden her from any type of schooling so she could care for them.  After a third daughter was born and reached four years old, another request to gain an education was denied.

Arowa stayed vigilant and took it upon herself to find a way to gain the education she was promised.  Being resourceful, she began selling items on eBay; with the $100 earned every month, she was able to afford an online course for a high school diploma.  However, she kept dealing with the constant issue of having limited English skills, taking hours to type product descriptions and answer buyer questions on eBay.  The online course was difficult for her as well, “I really didn’t understand anything because I had to translate everything and it was very hard.”

In 2012, her children were school-aged and Arowa was looking forward to attending the local college, but her husband remained opposed to the idea of education and intervened, “My husband did not want me to get my high school diploma so he moved us to California and made sure I got pregnant again.”

A year after her son was born, Arowa’s mother had heart surgery and she was needed in New York to care for her.  Her husband said that she was allowed to go, but to leave all four children with him; he planned to quit his job to care them while she way away.  Arowa pleaded with him to at least let her take their one year old son, especially since he was still breast-feeding.   He reluctantly agreed.

Her flight out was cancelled and she was faced with a dilemma while waiting at the airport, “I had no money and the phone he gave me had no minutes, so I was stuck with a baby and had to get help from strangers so I could call my husband.”  Unfortunately, that was not the last of her struggles.

After leaving California, Arowa discovered that her husband had secretly planned to take their daughters to Yemen while she was away.  By the time she realized his plot, it was too late and they had already left the country.

Now divorced, it has been four years since her daughters were taken and she still waits and searches for them.   Her ex-husband and daughters have returned somewhere in the States, but she is unable to find his exact location while he works only for cash, leaving no trail to follow, “I don’t know if I will ever see my daughters again.”

Currently living with her mother and son, Arowa remains strong fighting for her education and hoping for her daughters to return to her.  She found LearningQuest and, in just over a year, improved her English skills and earned her High School Equivalency Diploma.  As a Fall 2017 LearningQuest graduate, she is now a student worker at MJC and is already pushing through her second semester.  Dreams of nursing school are in sight and have become achievable.  The odds were stacked against her, but Arowa continues to succeed by staying determined and full of hope.

Meet David…

David Geren is one of LearningQuest’s most recent graduates from the High School Equivalency program at the Oakdale site.  Raised in a stable family, David chose to make decisions that caused his path to intervene with time in prison.  Although he was briefly enrolled in the HSE program at LearningQuest before incarceration, he was forced to halt his educational development.  Prison allowed David time to analyze his choices and after his release, he gained full custody of his son.  As a single father wanting to give his son a better life, he grew determined to improve himself.

David said, “I used to be on drugs, I used to get incarcerated, get locked up.  I used to be in a bad relationship.  Now I’m single, went to self-help groups and I’m clean, almost been clean a year.  It’s time to get a real job, that why I’m going through the GED program.   I could work construction under the table, [but] I don’t want to do that; I’ve got a son now, I want to get benefits.  I want to have a career.”

Rejoining the HSE program and dealing with finding reliable child care, he stayed focused, “I put one foot in front of the other and showed up every day. I came ready and prepared to learn, and did my best.”

David appreciated the classroom and instructor support he received because it kept him accountable, “It’s great that the organization has a classroom with other students because by myself I don’t know if I would’ve studied.  With the teachers, they helped a lot. I passed them [tests] all on the first try.  It wasn’t because I knew everything; it was because the teachers helped me learn what I needed to learn to pass the test.”

He understood that the hard work was only temporary and that reaching his goal of getting into a trade school and finding a career was worth it, “If you get your GED there’s all kinds of doors that are more available to better your life.  It’s a big confidence builder.  A month ago I was down in the dirts, I [couldn’t] get good a job, I [didn’t] have a GED.  Now here I am with my GED and good to go onto college…ready to move forward.”

David’s advice to current and future students: “It’s possible, it’s achievable.  I’m 29 so I’ve been trying to get this for many years now, it’s not like it happened overnight.  Never give up, it’s never too late.  Keep on going.  It doesn’t take long to turn your life around.  Within a year I’ve turned my life around 100%.   Keep reaching out to people and programs out there that are there to help.  Because of the GED program…everyone in this organization who’s…been willing to help me better myself: that’s really a blessing.”