Literacy Volunteers of Massachusetts (LVM) Stoughton/Sharon provides free, confidential, one-to-one tutoring for adults, 18 years and older, who need help improving basic English reading, writing and speaking skills. The program is located in the Stoughton Public Library, and is funded by the Town of Stoughton and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. A satellite program is located at the Sharon Public Library. LVM Stoughton/Sharon is one of twelve LVM programs throughout the state.
LVM has been serving the Stoughton community since 1998. Barbra Nadler, former Sharon Public Library Director, recognized a need for English language and literacy classes in Sharon and in 2005, she approached Smadar Gekow of LVM Stoughton for help. This began a successful collaboration, and since then, Sharon and Stoughton work together to provide classes and services in both towns. Each year about 100 students take part in the programs. ESOL students speak 32 different languages and come from over 40 countries, including Brazil, Haiti, El Salvador, Argentina, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, and French Canada.
The program relies on volunteers who are trained to tutor adults in basic reading, writing, and English for Students of Other Languages (ESOL). Adults who have a high school diploma, are able to work with diverse groups, and are sensitive to the struggles of adult learners are encouraged to become tutors. Tutors agree to work with one student two hours per week for one year after completing the 18-hour tutor training workshop.
Tutors describe their experiences as very rewarding. Halina, says, “This program has changed my life for the better,” and according to Joselyn, tutoring is “one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in a long time.”
Joan Brown, a SPN Steering Committee member and LVM tutor for 9 years, served about a dozen different people annually in one-on-one sessions and a group conversation class. She described getting to know her students as “a privilege for teachers and tutors who quickly learn to admire their motivation and determination to be understood in English.” According to Joan, her class developed into “a social network and a ‘family’ of friends.”
Collaborations with SPN: LVM Stoughton/Sharon collaborates with other SPN Partners on several programs, including SPN’s cultural awareness workshops where ESOL students speak to members of the community about their experiences coming to the United States. These workshops are a wonderful opportunity for interaction among recent immigrants and town employees, enabling students to learn about town government and town employees to learn about some of the challenges facing newer residents in Sharon. Students from the literacy program also helped develop SPN’s Cultural Awareness Protocol Charts. LVM Stoughton/Sharon collaborates with the Sharon Library, the Sharon Adult Center, and Youth LEAD to hold ESOL Movie Nights for students and their families, along with other community residents.