Leaping Grades and Building Confidence

Meet Heather & Miranda…

Heather Sevo struggled with dyslexia since childhood, but essential school resources helped her start junior high at the same reading level as her peers and maintain top grades through college.  It was an accomplishment that required hard work and dedication from herself and those who helped her.  Heather said, “So, when my child, Miranda, wasn’t able to keep up with the rest of her class in reading and spelling, I knew something was wrong.”

It turns out that Miranda, only being in third grade, indeed had dyslexia like her mother and quickly joined the school’s resource program.  She said, “Although she was learning how to spell and read, it wasn’t the one on one she needed.  It was a small group of kids that met for 15 minutes only two times a week.  She wasn’t learning what she needed as quickly as she was needing it.  By the time she got into fourth grade, she was only reading at a second grade level and spelling was at first grade level at best.  Her self esteem and self confidence was starting to suffer and she was quickly being left behind in her learning.  She was able to piece together and memorize enough to keep her afloat, but not enough to succeed.”

“You only fail if you give up!

If you are doing your best, that is what counts.”

– Sevo Family motto

Heather learned about LearningQuest’s free one-on-one tutoring for dyslexic children using the Barton System through the KidsQuest program held at the Stanislaus County Library.  She said, “I was doing everything I could at home to help her.  I was tutoring her in reading and spelling, but could not afford the Barton System at $350 per level, so I did what I could do.” After enrolling Miranda into KidsQuest and witnessing the commitment from her tutor, Tim Smart, Heather saw a significant improvement in her daughter’s academic success and confidence.  Heather said, “This has been a blessing from God!  We could not afford the Barton System on our own.  This program enabled [Miranda] to get the help she needs with an excellently trained tutor…that has the patience and time to help her.  She has gone from reading at a second grade level to a fifth grade reading level in just one year!  It has given my daughter the confidence to enter into sixth grade knowing that she can read what she needs to read without feeling anxious or defeated.”

Miranda has regained her self confidence and no longer feels pressured to play “catch up” in school.  Miranda said, “My mom keeps me motivated and determined to do my best because she is always there for me.  We talk about what it is I’m learning and she teaches me and takes me deeper into the subject.  She doesn’t just give me the answers, she helps me figure it out for myself.  She encourages me by telling me of her struggles and how she overcame them.  She also tells me about others that are dyslexic and how they have gone on to accomplish great things in their lives.”

“Through KidsQuest, my daughter was given the necessary tools she needed to learn how to read.  Schools are overwhelmed and underfunded.  They do not have the ability to work one on one with a student that needs the extra help.  Without Tim Smart and KidsQuest, my daughter would be entering middle school unable to read,” said Heather.  For other parents struggling to help their child find the resources they need, she says, “Seek help.  Ask for a parent teacher conference with your child’s teacher.  Be strong!  Be your child’s advocate.”

Did you know that many parents in your community don’t know that they can access free educational and support resources?

Bridge the gap for families, like Heather and Miranda’s, by making sure support programs stay available for parents searching for resources.

Learning Brings Mother and Daughter Closer

Meet Hayry & Keylin…

Starting over in a new country was just one more box to check on Hayry Sauceda’s ambitious list of what she needed to accomplish for herself and for her family.  Hayry (pronounced hi-ree) grew up in a loving home with a close-knit family in Estacion Rosales, Sinaloa, Mexico.  “I felt that I was a fortunate girl to have my family.  My life as a child was full of joy and beauty,” she said.  Her family supported her educational goals as she graduated from high school and attended university with hopes of one day becoming a nurse.  However, as she approached the end of the last year at university, Hayry and her husband decided it was time to search for better opportunities that would lead to a brighter future for their daughter.

Once they moved to California, Hayry wanted to get back on track with building a secure life for her family, but realized that “the new language was the main culture shock” when she arrived.  Refusing to be left out of the conversation, Hayry set off on a journey to learn English and started classes with LearningQuest.  Hayry said, “I want to focus on learning English and then pursue a career in the medical field as a medical assistant.”

“My daughter is my main motivation to continue studying and I want to give her the best example…so [she can] also strive to achieve [her] hopes and dreams.”

– Hayry Saucedo

She has improved her English so much through the English as a Second Language and Family Literacy programs that even her daughter gets involved with literacy.  They enjoy hands-on educational projects through the Parent and Child Together (PACT) classes and, thanks to Kids Club, her daughter gets supervised homework help and fun literacy activities while Hayry is in class learning English.  They received brand new books to practice reading together during the Giving Tree Book Drive and in October of 2019, Hayry signed up for the High School Equivalency (HSE) program and graduated in July!

Hayry has come such a long way over the past two years that she has been able to apply her new skills to parenting, she says, “In the class, I learned many new things that make it easier to help my daughter with math and science homework.  My daughter is my main motivation to continue studying and I want to give her the best example…so [she can]also strive to achieve [her]hopes and dreams.”

For those ready to change their lives, Hayry says, “Fight to get ahead.  It is never too late to study since it is your education that will be the best weapon for life.  It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either.  Having an education is important for us and our community.”

“Fight to get ahead.  It is never too late to study since it is your education that will be the best weapon for life.”

– Hayry Saucedo

Did you know that many parents in your community don’t know that they can access free educational and support resources?

Bridge the gap for families, like Hayry and Keylin’s, by making sure support programs stay available for parents searching for resources.

Q & A with Mallory Cantu

Mallory Cantu & Family

Mallory Cantu [far right], a LearningQuest Welfare to Work HSE 2020 Graduate, with her daughters

“Be a better role model for my kids” – Mallory Cantu

Mallory Cantu started her journey at LearningQuest in January of 2020 as a Welfare to Work student.  After only five short months and dedication to studying, she finally earned her High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma, removing one more barrier on her journey.  Meet Mallory:

LearningQuest (LQ): Where did you grow up and what was life like?

Mallory (M): I grew up in El Centro, a small town where everyone knew everyone.  Life was good and I had a good childhood.

 

LQ: What stopped you from finishing High School?

M: I got pregnant toward the end of ninth grade and never went back.

 

LQ: Why did you decide to earn your diploma?

M: Be a better role model for my kids.

 

LQ: Did you have any struggles in the classroom? If so, what were they?

M: No, everything was amazing.

 

LQ: Were there things (like family, work, etc.) outside of the classroom that made focusing on or completing classwork difficult? If so, what were they?

M: No, I always made time for my schoolwork.

 

LQ: What are some things that helped you stay motivated, focused and determined?

M: My kids and my goals.

 

LQ: How do you use what you’ve learned in the classroom in your everyday life or at work?

M: When I cook, my measuring skills kick in, or even when I’m going shopping and I see a shirt that’s 35% off – I start calculating.

 

LQ: What are your educational goals?

M: To study a little of kinesiology until I can actually get the classes I need to be a physical therapy assistant.

 

LQ: How would reaching your educational goals impact your family/children?

M: My kids would be so excited.

 

LQ: What are your career goals?

M: To become a physical therapy assistant. 

 

LQ: What advice do you have for your fellow students?

M: Keep pushing.

 

LQ: What advice do you have for people who haven’t started working on their educational goals?

M: It’s a great experience and well worth it.

 

LQ: Would you like to thank anyone important to your success at LearningQuest?

M: My teacher (Mrs. Josephine Alexander-Hutchins) for sure for giving me the help I needed!

 

LQ: Thank you so much for choosing to reach your goals with us at LearningQuest, your presence here has been greatly appreciated. Anything else you’d like to share?

M: Thank you LearningQuest team!  You guys are amazing!

Spring-Summer 2020 LQ Connect

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  • LQ Connect Spring Summer Pg 2
  • LQ Connect Spring Summer Pg 3
  • LQ Connect Spring Summer Pg 4

Finding Her Confidence

Anita DeHart grew up in a home of substance addiction and physical abuse.  On that dangerous path, her father began to get abusive toward her mother and siblings until they separated.  Her father remarried and, although he remained abusive, has focused on sobriety for the past 22 years.  Anita’s mother was able to get clean while incarcerated and maintained it for four years. Anita and her siblings had to live with their father and step mother finding more physical and mental abuse.  Anita turned to drugs at 16 years old to help her cope, starting with pain pills and moving onto meth.  “I just wanted to feel normal or different from what I was feeling at that moment.  Drugs helped with that.”

 

Anita “became too much of a problem child,” dropped out of high school, and was sent to live with her mother.  Her mother’s health deteriorated so Anita cared for her.  Her mother relapsed back to drugs a year before passing away – Anita’s daughter, Chasity, was only six months old.   This sent Anita spiraling back into depression and it would be two more years until she changed her life. “I went to jail and got clean.  I was accepted in the Drug Court program and my life became amazing.  I  was finally becoming somebody I want to be.  I was 100% off drugs and loving everything about life.  I graduated Drug Court and a month later gave birth to my son, Nicholas.”

 

However, doctors gave Anita pain medication during labor that instantly relapsed all her progress toward sobriety.  It took another two years until she finally had enough, got clean, separated from her children’s father, found support living with her sister, and had her case worker sign her up at LearningQuest to earn her diploma in order to find a job. Anita quickly passed all tests and earned her diploma.  Her hardworking ability to excel in class was why she was chosen to be a speaker at her 2019 Graduation & Awards Night.  Anita said, “I was unemployed and lacking confidence to even apply for a job because I didn’t have my HSE or GED.  My daughter is my true inspiration. How can I as a mom ask her to do great things in school if I didn’t even finish high school?”

 

Anita found employment at Ace Hardware with  plans to start courses to earn her A.A. in Human Services this Fall at MJC.  Anita says, “My dream is to be able to help women like myself, addicts who just can’t seem to stop, mother’s who don’t believe they’re good enough.”

 

“I had the knowledge in me the whole time, I just needed to believe.”

-Anita DeHart

 

Student Becomes Teacher in COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down. With students transitioned to online learning at home, many parents have been tasked with the challenge of also becoming their child’s teacher for the rest of the school year.  This challenge helped Amy Romero, a mom and LearningQuest grad, find a new strength within herself. 

Amy was raised in a very close-knit family with a wonderful childhood in Ceres, California.  Like many young girls, she had dreams and ambitions to shoot for the stars. However, things changed when she became pregnant and dropped out of high school to become a full-time mom.  After having her son, she turned to a life of drug abuse.  It took many years of struggling with addiction before Amy realized that her choices were truly affecting herself and her family – she finally had enough. 

I wanted a better career for my children, and I [had] to show them, if I could do it, they can [too],” Amy said.  She set off on the path to finish what she started – earning her diploma.  Amy faced the challenges of being a single parent and working full-time while attending LearningQuest, but she never gave up.  At the 2019 Spring Graduation & Awards Night, Amy was celebrated for earning her diploma and winning the award for “Best Effort” in her class.  Amy finally felt that she will be the mom she was always meant to be. 

The pandemic has changed how society operates and Amy stands strong.  With her children at home doing school work online, Amy uses the skills and confidence she gained from LearningQuest to help them stay on track, “What I was taught in the classroom, I can [now] bring it home and help my kids with their homework.”  Amy expresses how her children are teaching her new and exciting things every day.  She has found a strength in teaching and learning from others in order to help her children succeed during this pandemic.  Amy encourages other parents to find their strength, “Don’t give up. Limits are for credit cards, not people. Reach for the stars.” 

 

By Yvonne Downs

2019 Impact Report

Did LearningQuest’s programs impact adult learner lives last year?

What was the literacy need for our community?

How many students were served in each of the programs?  What goals did they reach?

Who supported LearningQuest by volunteering or giving gifts?

How is LearningQuest operating as a nonprofit?

Who are some of the students impacted by the support of the community and LQ programs?

 

Find out in the 2019 LearningQuest Impact Report!

 

2019 LQ Impact Report

UPDATED – Our COVID 19 Action Plan

COVID action plan

Thank you for your patience…

while we figured out safe and creative solutions for working through this crisis.  We’ve been able to come up with and enact productive ways for students to stay in line with their educational goals and for staff to still provide services to those students.  Thank you to our students, staff, and volunteer tutors for being proactive with these necessary, and hopefully temporary, changes – we’ll keep you posted as new updates become available.

Updates as of 7/13/20

 

LearningQuest’s limited reopening

Due to the Governor’s latest orders, our Learning Center has temporarily closed to HSE student instruction and transition services.  However, tutoring services at the Stanislaus County Library for Adult Literacy and KidsQuest is still being held outside on the portico. 

Safety precautions will still be taken at LearningQuest sites include face shields, hand sanitizer, face masks, directional walking paths, and social distancing will help to keep the learning environment sanitary and still conducive for learning.  LearningQuest staff will be on-site and available for checking in, support, etc.

Although students are not receiving instruction at the Learning Center in downtown Modesto, staff will still be on site for regular office hours (M-Th, 8:30-4).  This site is open to the public for inquiries, but due to safety precautions, we request giving us a call for questions or schedule a time for a visit by contacting 209-548-9266.

Continuing instruction for HSE students

Students in the High School Equivalency (HSE) program will be able to continue their learning and transitions services online and in person.  Schedules will be assigned to each student to coordinate time frames of classroom and online work.  Although all instruction is now available online and in digital form, the in-person class time is another option for students to receive additional one-on-one learning support in order to maintain educational progress.

Every HSE instructor has been assigned students to monitor and guide through assignments.  They will be able to keep in contact with each other through email, text, phone, Skype, and online educational platforms to learn and get support right away.

For questions about the HSE diploma program or signing up for orientation, contact Suzanna at 209-672-6663, sholson@lqslc.com

For current LearningQuest HSE students to schedule a meeting with a Transitions Specialist, contact Sarah Ayers at 209-672-6576, sayers@lqslc.com.

Literacy tutoring and KidsQuest at the Library

Students receiving one-on-one tutoring through Adult Literacy Tutoring and KidsQuest will be able to meet at designated tables placed outside on the portico of the Stanislaus County Library (facing 15th St.) as another option to continue their learning.  Tutoring students must make reservations for 45 minute time increments, beginning at 8:30 am with the last reservation held at 11:30 am.  

For more info or to make a reservation, contact: Rose Jurado at rjurado@lqslc.com or Katelynn Christensen at kchristensen@lqslc.com, 209-558-4505.

Staff still providing services

LearningQuest staff will continue to work limited hours on-site and remotely from home.  We have updated our communication and digital access logistics so employees will still be able to get their work done efficiently.  This will ensure that essential tasks, such as submitting important reports and being available for student calls, are accomplished in order to meet mission and student educational goals.  This means that all staff are available for you to contact if needed, click the button below for our directory.

KarenWilliams

Karen Williams

Executive Director

LearningQuest – Stanislaus Literacy Centers

Director’s Message

June 18, 2020 – I am grateful for the “new normal” LearningQuest had to embrace and where it is leading us.  We are dedicated to helping adults achieve their educational and career goals so COVID-19 made us engage fully in distance learning and expand the ways in which our students can achieve their education.Although our online learning was an educational supplement before COVID-19, we’ve found that when we fully transitioned to online classes for safety precautions, some of our students were able to better manage their home and family life while still continuing their education.  Some want to continue completely online for that reason.  For others who miss the in-person atmosphere, we will soon restore student schedules that include some classroom in-person learning with less students and social distancing on July 7th.  

We have another option of using Zoom video and audio technology to have “virtual” students in our classrooms who are sitting at home, but having real-time interactions.  This means we can potentially serve people in all areas of the county and extend our reach to underserved rural areas even in other counties by providing online classes, tutoring, financial and digital literacy workshops, and college and career planning.  We are finding the new normal to be a better version and look forward to expanded educational opportunities.  Thank you for your part in making this new future possible for our students and organization.

May 14, 2020 – As I walked the halls this past week and spoke to staff, I saw nothing but positive teamwork.  Everyone is pulling together to successfully get students set up for online and remote learning and I’m so proud of the staff and students.  I have not been through anything like this so I have nothing to compare it to, but given the uncertainty of each day, I am grateful I can count on each of them to help out where needed.  We are working out schedules to make sure management is available via phone or email and on site, unless required otherwise. We want the students to know that we are all here for them.  We’ve really ramped up our plans for providing remote and e-communication so staff can stay connected and still keep diligently working toward our mission goals.  Things can change quickly, but above all else, be safe.  We will get through this together.  Thank you for your patience and support during this time.

Additional COVID 19 resources

Refer to the websites of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Stanislaus County Health Services Agency (HSA), and California Department of Public Health for additional information on and prevention of Corona Virus.

Cherish After Graduation

Cherish

Meet Cherish Medeiros…

Experiencing trauma as a toddler, Cherish was raised by her loving grandmother for ten years. After losing her grandmother to cancer, she lived with her father in a house full of drugs and alcohol. By sixth grade, she became dependent on substances, dropped out of school, and was in and out of the juvenile delinquent and foster care systems. At just 16 years old, Cherish had her first child. Ten years later and in fear of having her fourth child also taken away by CPS, she gave birth alone at home on her bed. It was this breaking point that made her realize that she needed to change her life in order to support her newborn daughter.

When Cherish enrolled at LearningQuest – it had been 15 years since she attended school and she was terrified. She struggled with anxiety, emotional outbursts in class and a defeated mindset. She said, “I had to rewire my brain. I know that my past usage of drugs and alcohol at such a young age has affected my retention of information.”

LearningQuest staff would patiently talk Cherish through those emotional struggles to get her back on track. Her confidence grew with the positive support, her panic attacks began to diminish, and she became more engaged in her assignments. She took her final test in March 2016 and passed – Cherish officially earned her diploma! At graduation, she walked the stage with joy as family and friends cheered.

Anton Lewis, her former instructor, said, “Cherish was never afraid to ask questions. As she progressed, she started answering them for herself – my instruction became just guidance. With every subject test passed, Cherish showed that hard work and dedication would make her successful at whatever she chose to do. I am constantly amazed and inspired by her accomplishments, and cannot wait to see what she will achieve next.”

Now, Cherish is a drug and alcohol counselor at Sierra Vista helping others rise above their addictions while finishing up administrative justice classes at MJC.  Cherish has kept a close bond with her father and her four daughters and has a positive outlook on life.  The next chapters planned in her story include graduating from MJC, transferring to CSU, Stanislaus, earning a Master’s in social work, and finally, working for Child Protective Services to support the families in positions similar to her own.  Cherish now gives love, support, and guidance to her clients by sharing the kindness she received at LearningQuest.

Cherish at Sierra Vista

Cherish showed that hard work and dedication would make her successful at whatever she chose to do.

Anton Lewis, Cherish’ former instructor

Impact a student like Cherish

Opera, movies, zombies, ice skating are all part of Jane Austen takeover of Modesto

See the original Modesto Bee article by Deke Farrow HERE

 

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“Pride and Prejudice,” as a novel and as a board book, is discussed at a 244th birthday party for Jane Austen at the Modesto Library on Dec. 16, 2019.

Jane Austen’s takeover of Modesto began quietly enough this fall: An emphasis on her works by LearningQuest-Stanislaus Literacy Centers for its adult learners. A 244th birthday party for the English novelist in a downstairs room of the downtown library. An escape room, also at the library, with puzzles designed to inspire participants to read her works and learn more about her life.

Soon, though, it will take to the streets, the stage, the silver screen and even a skating rink. And it won’t be over until the slender lady sings.

It’s a Jane-vasion, with Opera Modesto and its production of the opera “Mansfield Park” at the center.

Opera Modesto board member Hillari DeSchane long has wanted to do an opera based on a work by Austen, said Roy Stevens, the company’s general and artistic director. Her wish is coming true thanks to “Mansfield Park,” a 2011 chamber opera by composer Jonathan Dove, based on Austen’s third novel, published in 1814.

Stevens said he and his opera-singer wife, Annalisa Winberg, who is Opera Modesto’s artistic consultant, saw a way to stage the work primarily using members of the company’s TOP Young Artists program. Before long, “we realized we had a potential catalyst to do something more with the community,” he said.

That “something more” ended up being the Story Into Song Literacy Initiative, for which Opera Modesto has partnered with LearningQuest, the Stanislaus County Library, the State Theatre, the Becoming Jane Austen Book Club (of which DeSchane is a member), city and county schools and the Downtown Modesto Partnership, among others.

The initiative is a great way to build excitement around literature and the arts, said library director Sarah Dentan. “We’re excited to partner with Opera Modesto to promote books and reading, as well as the arts and humanities,” she told The Bee in an email. “By offering complementary events at the library, we can extend our existing fan base, and perhaps introduce readers to storytelling through song.”

Built around the opera production Jan. 11-12 at the State, a so-called destination weekend also includes a Friday, Jan. 10, presentation by the State’s Late Night Horror Film series of the 2016 movie “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” preceded by a zombie walk costume parade across the theater’s stage. The next evening will bring a screening by the Book to Film Club of 1940’s “Pride and Prejudice” starring Laurence Olivier, preceded by a lecture/discussion led by Arnold Schmidt, a professor of English at Stanislaus State.

A Jane Austen convention, called Jane Con, will include activities both that Saturday and Sunday. Among the first day’s events are a Regency Period arcade of “unique, artisanal, handcrafted or locally sourced gifts” on the library portico, an All Things Jane information session inside, and the lectures/workshops “Gowns and Groans: A Costumer Looks at Regency Costumes on Film and Stage,” “ Defining the Definitive Darcy,” “Starting Your Own JA Book Club” and Dressing the Regency Lady.”

The second day will bring Regency dance lessons, “No Sweat, No Debt Costumes: Regency on a Budget” and “Bonnets on a Budget,” which require a materials fee.

At the close of the weekend will be a special Jane Austen On Ice session at the Modesto on Ice outdoor skating rink downtown. Those dressed in Regency attire will receive a discount.

For information on Jane Con registration, costs and more, go to www.modestojanecon.com, call 209-523-6426 or email admin@modestojanecon.com.

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Photo booth props are displayed at a 244th birthday party for Jane Austen at the Modesto Library on Dec. 16, 2019.

THE OPERA

The public performances of “Mansfield Park” are at 2 p.m. both days at the State, with fun events during each intermission. Saturday’s will be a Regency costume parade and contest, and Sunday will be a Jane Austen game show with the audience.

Directing the show is Carolina Stevens, daughter of Stevens and Winberg. She promises that while opera can feel very slow and drawn out, Dove’s work is fast-paced and exciting. Conceived as a touring production, it eschews big sets for minimalism. At the State, the director will make use of the movie screen and employ rolling furniture and other small set pieces.

“As the composer makes the scenes move and change, she’s got the same thing happening, with footmen moving people around the stage, and it’s really quite lovely,” Roy Stevens said.

Carolina Stevens added that not being able to use traditional sets and set changes began as a challenge and ended up a benefit, helping to create a more “dynamic” show.

The 23-year-old director said Austen — whose works also include “Emma” and “Sense and Sensibility” — wrote very interesting characters, especially her female ones. They are fleshed out, strong and thoughtful, especially for the author’s time period, Stevens said, and people still draw inspiration from them.

“I think that’s part of why she’s taught in schools, is that we still can connect to the type of people she writes, to the type of struggles they have,” she said. “We connect to their emotional lives. We connect to trying to figure out your way in the world.”

“Mansfield Park,” about heroine Fanny Price and other young people trying to work their way out of difficult situations and find freedom in various forms, also is quite funny, Carolina Stevens said. She noted that Austen is known for writing evil aunts, “and this has the most evil aunt of them all, Aunt Norris.” Mrs. Norris, the unpleasant feline pet of Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch in the Harry Potter books and movies, was named for the Austen character, Stevens noted.

Opera Modesto’s production is the U.S. premiere of Dove’s orchestrated version of “Mansfield Park.” Because it’s primarily a touring opera, Dove’s original music was for “four hands,” meaning two players on one piano, Roy Stevens said. But the show at the State will have a chamber orchestra in front of the stage.

On stage are just 10 singers, he said, seven of them from the Young Artists Program, which includes some of the region’s best teen talent and regional/national emerging young professionals.

In addition to the public performances, Opera Modesto will stage “Mansfield Park” twice more as shows for readers selected by schoolteachers and LearningQuest tutors. These will be audience members who have prepared and come familiar with the story and interested, Roy Stevens said.

LOOKING AHEAD

LearningQuest Executive Director Karen Williams praised the Story Into Song Literacy Initiative as a creative way of introducing readers of all ages to classical literature.

“We are honored to have a partnership with Opera Modesto in order to provide an enriching experience of literacy for our adult learners,” she told The Bee in an email. “LearningQuest will have a booth at Jane Con to inform the community about our free educational services, and we hope that the spirit of Jane Con, ‘Mansfield Park’ and SISLI inspires the readers in our community to become volunteer tutors and teach other adults how to read.”

Opera Modesto intends its “Mansfield Park” production to be just the first piece of an ongoing Story Into Song program. The second year, said Roy Stevens, will be based on two famous Spanish and Spanglish novels and two one-act operas based on them: Cervantes’ “Don Quixote de La Mancha” and Anaya’s “Bless Me, Ultima.” The literacy initiative will be focused even more on the Spanish-speaking part of the community, with “many new and developing partnerships and collaborations with Latino businesses and organizations,” he said.

Looking toward Year Three, the Opera Modesto director said it probably will be based on something by Edgar Allen Poe.

LearningQuest’s Williams said the initiative is different and important because it involves a regional effort by teachers, professors, administrators, librarians, volunteers and more, representing collaborative partnerships with an educational and literacy focus.

“Knowing this is something that will continue in future years with other works of literature, I believe this idea will grow over time,” she said. “This year is the infancy of what I believe will soon become a mature project with even more impact as it evolves.”

To learn more, visit www.operamodesto.org.