Student Juan Gutierrez and Tutor Harry Delong
Written by Shawn Brubaker, Severna Park Voice Editorial Assistant
April 8, 2015
“In 2012, I got an aneurism in my leg, so I was grounded for a long time,” recalled Harry DeLong, a tutor with the Anne Arundel County Literacy Council. DeLong had been physically active for much of his life, but his ailment forced him to retire from volunteering at Historic Hancock’s Resolution. In the market for a new volunteer opportunity that was less physically demanding, DeLong found the Anne Arundel County Literacy Council (AACLC) in 2013, and he has since enjoyed two years and counting of wonderful work with the county’s reading-challenged population.
DeLong, an Ohio native currently living in the Twin Harbors neighborhood of Arnold, moved up the ladder in the AACLC, joining the AACLC board as a tutor representative, a position in which he helps to voice tutors’ feedback and issues to the board. “I am a tutor, so I can bring back information or issues that might affect everybody. We have approximately 220 tutors around the county,” DeLong explained. For example, DeLong has started to help with the literacy council’s training program, providing first-hand feedback about what to expect from students and their reactions to the lesson materials.
In just two years, Harry DeLong has already tutored four pre-GED students and three special needs students. Through his work, DeLong has noticed some trends among those who need the Literacy Council’s services. Many of his older students had dropped out of school at a young age to help support their families, while many other students are immigrants who need help learning English. Still others are developmentally disabled or have a learning disability. For instance, DeLong taught one student who was trying to regain function after spending 40 days in a coma. Whatever has caused a person’s issues with reading, though, DeLong and the Literacy Council are there to help with structured teaching methods.
One student, whom DeLong characterized as his greatest success story, was a young man named Juan, who had dropped out of school at 13 to support his family. Despite Juan’s attempts to gain further education, he was unable to balance school and work, ultimately never getting past the ninth grade and falling just short of passing the GED test. To finally achieve his goal, Juan contacted the Literacy Council, which assigned Juan to DeLong. Juan’s goal was simple yet critical: Pass a test to get in to Anne Arundel Community College to work toward his GED. “He was so eager to learn,” DeLong recalled. “Typically, we meet once or twice a week. I met with him as often as four times a week.” Juan eventually passed the test and is now attending a GED preparation course at the community college. DeLong smiled as he recalled Juan’s excitement at having passed. “He was really happy,” DeLong remembered. “He called me, and he was like, ‘Boom!'”
Though Juan’s joy stood out to DeLong, he noted that many of his other students found success in their own way. Most of all, each student was thankful for the council and DeLong’s efforts. “For the most part, the students I’ve met are so appreciative of what we do,” DeLong emphasized.
DeLong wholeheartedly recommended that prospective volunteers join the AACLC as a tutor. “It’s been really great for me,” DeLong remarked. “It’s been very uplifting.”
Originally published on the Severna Park Voice website, where you can see a photo of Harry DeLong receiving a “Volunteer of the Month award from Voice Editorial Assistant (and this article’s author) Shawn Brubaker: – See more at: http://www.severnaparkvoice.com/community/harry-delong-turns-personal-tragedy-service-county-s-illiterate