Manuel Maciel tells his story of the impact of learning to read. He is currently being tutored in our library literacy program by George King who volunteers his time to teach him reading. Manuel was asked to tell his story at Awards Night where he was honored with the award for Most Improved in Literacy and again at the September Modesto City Council meeting.
My name is Manuel Maciel. I was born in northern Africa in 1966 and stayed there until I was seven years old. We moved to Portugal and then the Azores Islands and then to the United States, all during 1974. I spoke an African dialect and Portuguese but no English.
I started school in this country in Modesto in the third grade. I picked up spoken English within one year but struggled with reading and writing because my family moved many times.
I was placed in special education immediately because I was behind in reading and writing. I remained in special education classes until the beginning of my senior year of high school when I dropped out to work full time at a dairy. In spite of being in school for nine years I never learned to read and write.
I spent time working for Campbell Soup in Modesto for almost five years, but most of my full-time work was in agriculture.
I was able to get by without reading and writing because my relatives would do any paperwork I needed done.
I finally made the decision to learn to read and write because I couldn’t get a job without those skills, and I had a three year old daughter. I turned to the county for assistance and they wanted to place me in a work program. But when they found out I couldn’t read or write they put me into this literacy program.
At first I attended because I had to but when I started to learn to read and could read to my little girl I began to put more time and energy into my studies. Now I can use a computer, text on my phone, read to my daughter and learn subjects like history and science. My latest test showed that I am now reading at the sixth grade level and I am now focusing my goal on getting my GED.
Learning Quest gave me a second chance to be a better parent to my daughter because I can now help her as she goes through school and once I get my GED I know I can use my mechanical skills with my diploma to get a good job.