The majority of classes at Drake University focus the curriculum around textbooks, journals or outside readings. Students may spend three or even six hours each week with their noses in a book. Professors expect students to understand the texts and apply them.
That expectation is not always reality. Anne Murr understands that the ability to read is not a skill everyone has.
Murr is the coordinator of the Drake University Adult Literacy Center, a resource for community members to gain easy and free access to learning tools. ALC is looking for students who desire to help others advance their reading and comprehension skills–abilities students often take for granted.
“We want volunteers to have a willingness to learn within a given structure,” Murr said.
Student volunteers will be working one-on-one with an adult for one to two hours a week. Murr asks volunteers to commit for at least an academic year, which allows for a relationship to form between the volunteer and the adult. She said students can understand better how their adult’s learning process can be improved.
Murr said many of the adults can sound out and recognize words by sight but that the adults need someone to develop deeper cognition skills.
“You really get to know and see a person’s life that is so different from your own,” she said. “You’re privileged enough to read. You see adversity in a different way.”
Interested volunteers must contact Murr to sign up for training sessions this weekend. Students must attend both sessions, held on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the School of Education building.
The sessions will educate tutors on the causes of reading difficulties and provide instructional methods and materials tutors can use when volunteering.
ALC will offer training sessions in July and October for students interested in volunteering next academic year.
Also, Murr added that the ALC is starting a new computer training program that will offer basic lessons like how to set up an email account or navigate the Internet. Students can contact Murr about that opportunity, as well.
“You’re adding value to a person’s life and to your own life, too,” Murr said.