Adult tutoring program Project READ returns to Parkland

EvyJo Compton

Staff Writer

Project READ, a free tutoring program for adults, has returned to Parkland after a two-year gap in state funding.

Now that the program has started again, it is looking for volunteer tutors.

Project READ is for those over 17-years-old whom are looking to tutor or wish to be adult learners.

“Project READ is a volunteer tutoring program for adults in the communities of Parkland College district 505,” Amanda Harris, Project READ’s program manager, said. “Trained volunteer tutors provide free tutoring to help adult learners improve their skills in reading, basic arithmetic, or English as a second language (ESL). […] We invite adults over the age of 17 who want to improve their literacy, English, or math.  They should be separated from high school and score below the 9th-grade level in either math or reading.”

Once tutors and adult learners have been accepted into the project, the office of Parkland Adult Education matches the tutors with learners.

“Our office at Parkland Adult Education recruits and trains tutors for Project READ, and [recruits] adult learners,” Harris said. “We then match certified READ tutors with Adult Learners for [one-on-one], small group, or classroom-based, learner-centered instruction. Our office supports READ tutors and learners with communication, facilitation, instructional materials, and ongoing tutor training.”

Once the tutors and learners are paired, they begin their tutoring sessions. These occur at a variety of different public places.

“Tutors and students work together at community-based sites including public libraries, local churches, coffee shops, etc. and in Adult Basic Education or ESL classrooms,” Harris said.

Project READ was started quite a few years before the two-year gap by Illinois’ secretary of state’s office. Even though there was no funding for the project, loyal tutors and learners continued to work together.

“Project READ is funded by the Illinois State Library, a division of the Illinois Secretary of State,” Harris said. “The Secretary of State started READ to improve adult literacy. Our regional office is funded for the first time this year after a [two] year hiatus in state funding. Previously READ had been a part of our community for many years. During our hiatus, many committed tutors and learners continued to work together, and the people of First Presbyterian Church of Champaign even continued to support tutors and match them with learners.”

The state library’s literacy program is three decades old, beginning in 1986, Harris says.

The tutors of Project READ go through significant amounts of training before being able to tutor adult learners. The program is currently looking for more tutors.

“We always have more learners than tutors,” Harris said.

Tutor trainees engage in at least 12 hours of training before working with a learner for the first time. These 12 hours can be a flexible combination of short online readings, classroom observations, and face-to-face workshops with experienced teachers and tutors.

Once being selected for tutoring, the tutor and adult learner are paired up.

“Once you become a certified tutor we match you with an Adult Learner,” Harris said. “We provide support and facilitation for the sessions, as well as continual in-service training opportunities.”

Harris says those interested in becoming a tutor can get in touch with READ’s office.

“[To be a tutor], it takes reliability and good will,” Harris said. “You can contact our office at (217)353-2662 or projectread@parkland.edu. We will talk with you about your availability and preferences, and we will provide the training opportunities to get you certified as a READ tutor as soon as possible.”