Why We Do What We Do: Carlton Ricketts

January 4, 2017

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Student Carlton Ricketts and tutor Merlene Clarke

When a tutor’s passion to teach is matched by a student’s hunger for learning, amazing progress can be made. Literacy Council tutor Merlene Clarke has a day job that keeps her plenty busy. She is the dynamic principal of Annapolis’s Phoenix Academy, a county school offering K-12 students a unique mix of alternative programs. While academics aren’t slighted at the Phoenix Academy, high school students there have an opportunity to actually learn by doing–raising agricultural crops, rearing animals, nurturing endangered terrapins, and mastering culinary skills.

Merlene is passionate about helping all of her students graduate from high school as good readers. Recently, she provided 25 of her teachers and staff with training to provide one-on-one tutoring for Phoenix students who struggle with reading, patterned after the Literacy Council’s tutor training curriculum. And she also continues to pass on the gift of literacy after hours. Merlene meets with Carlton Ricketts for 4 hours each week, because he, too, is eager to learn.

Jamaica-born and raised, Carlton has been living in this area for three years, working in the construction trades as a mason. He wants to improve his reading skills before he and his wife Shavonnie start a family, and is a truly motivated student. On his student intake form, Carlton indicated that he was available to meet with his tutor any night of the week!

Carlton is also hoping to succeed in the Anne Arundel Community College Adult Basic Skills (ABS) classes. Tutor Merlene Clarke shares that “Carlton is super energetic and eager to improve his reading skills. We meet for 4 hours a week for lessons and he is making amazing progress! He comprehends what he reads and infers quite well. It is my pleasure to work with Carlton.”

Clark and Ricketts


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