Glen Burnie East: Literacy Council expands in north county

September 11, 2012

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By SUSAN SHILLENN, For Capital Gazette  |  Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2012  2:00am

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Deborah Ryan Johnson of Millersville has been a high school teacher, an elementary school principal and trained other teachers. Yet, she describes the student she tutors through the Anne Arundel County Literacy Council, as the “single most highly motivated and hardest working person I’ve ever worked with in a teacher-student capacity.”

Her student’s enthusiasm showed when he was asked how he felt about his tutoring sessions.“I don’t like it, I love it!” he said. Johnson’s student is a man in his mid-30s who recently moved to the United States from Jamaica. His wife, the local library, and a community center helped him connect with the literacy council. He spoke with Capital Gazette on the condition that he not be identified by name because of his illiteracy.

“I can tell you, it’s beautiful!” the man said. “My tutor, she’s good, very good. I want to get a high school diploma, a proper education for a good job. With education you can go where you want to go. I’ve got the chance to do it. I’m grabbing it with both hands and I’m never letting it go!”

Johnson and her student are a bit unusual in that she travels from Millersville to Annapolis for their sessions. Most of the council tutors live in south county, so students in that area are usually able to be matched with a local tutor.

“We have 25 tutor/student pairs currently meeting at North County library,” Lisa Vernon, the literacy council program director wrote in an email. “Many of those tutors travel from Annapolis to meet their student. The majority of our students live in the northern part of our county, and many of them are willing to meet at the North County library. We always have a shortage of tutors for the Glen Burnie area.”

Ellie Morton of Point Pleasant recently contacted the Capital Gazette to ask for coverage of the council’s services. Morton is currently tutoring four students, three at the North County Area library and one at the Provinces library in Severn. “It really brings to light the fact that many people, even if they graduated from high school, don’t have the basic foundation, they’ve just been passed through,” she said.

Two of Morton’s students are working toward taking their GED exam. Another would like to be able to read the TV Guide and other magazines. “We need to target north county,” Morton said.

According to Vernon, the group currently has five students who would like to meet at the North County Area Library, but haven’t yet been matched with tutors. So far, only two of the volunteers who have signed up for the next tutor training are from north county. “The need is great,” Vernon said.

The two-day tutor training seminar will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 29 and Oct. 13 at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, 611 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd. in Severna Park.

The literacy council is a volunteer nonprofit organization that provides free, one-on-one tutoring to adults in Anne Arundel County who have low-level reading skills or are English language learners. It also provides free training for the volunteer tutors and skill assessors.

To register for the tutor training session, email or call 410-798-0408.

For more details about the organization, visit

The council needs funds to pay for training and instructional materials for tutors and students.

The new Anne Arundel Cares website has selected the organization as its nonprofit of the week in the education category. Donations can be made to the literacy council through Thursday at The three organizations with the most donations will also receive a $2,500 grant sponsored by Capital One Bank and an anonymous donor.

A book fair benefiting the group will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 2516 Solomons Island Road in Annapolis. Patrons who mention AACLC when they check out during those hours will have up to 15 percent of their proceeds donated to the council.

Barnes & Noble online purchasers, who use the book fair identification number 10823003 from Saturday through Sept. 19, will have 10 percent of their proceeds donated to the council. The fair will also feature five local authors hosting book signings and prizes from local merchants given away every hour.

Photo credit: “Book Bird” by Danielle (other information hidden) via StockXChng


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