More Resources For Our Clients

February 22, 2021

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Food: Place settingFood Assistance

Thanks to the many good people and local groups, there are a lot of new places to get food assistance and help with other household items.

Anne Arundel County has food pantries, senior pantries, and even pet pantries. Please visit this map to see food and necessities distribution locations and details.

Please also see FoodFinder for locations of local food pantries/banks searchable by zip code.

211 Maryland

For anyone facing difficulties, dialing 2-1-1 connects callers with highly trained health and human services personnel who provide guidance and help with a range of needs from utility assistance to legal guidance to mental health help.

211 help is available in more than 100 languages. Please see to know all that the service offers. Calls are confidential, and there is a texting option as well.

Thank You, JoAnn!

February 20, 2021

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JoAnn Cook

An exceptional volunteer retires from our staff.

Long-time Literacy Council volunteer, JoAnn Cook retired from staff service in January. For many years, JoAnn contributed to our work in countless ways. Among her many roles, she served as a student coordinator, assessor, graphic designer, event planner and contributor, trainer, organizer, and database assistant.

JoAnn designed and produced almost all of our brochures, programs, posters, and forms. She has also been a kind and thoughtful staff advisor and contributor, joining committees, attending events, and offering resources to make things better than they would have been without her!

JoAnn has donated thousands of hours of her time. She will be missed. For now, it is not officially “goodbye” — JoAnn has promised to help us when we need her, and she is still working on our data team.

Post image for Join Us For A Virtual Round Table Feb. 25, 2021

Jill & Perinaaz are hosting a Roundtable on Zoom.

Please email Wendy to sign up for a February 25 Zoom session to share tips and ideas for working with students remotely.

The discussion will begin at 7 pm, and our trainers and tutors will share experiences, resources, and ideas. You’ll be able to ask questions and seek advice on how to best tutor your student from a distance.

In follow-up, we’ll provide a summary sheet and information on resources.

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The Literacy Council is loaning laptops to students

Thanks to a donation from the Phillips Foundation, in 2019, the Literacy Council purchased laptops for loan to our students. Please contact Perinaaz, if your student is interested in borrowing one. We will work with you to safely deliver the laptop and to provide straight-forward instructions.

So far, students have used AACLC laptops to continue their lessons remotely, access resources for their studies, take practice tests, and create resumés.

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All of us at the Anne Arundel County Literacy Council hope you are well.

Please consider joining us this month for a virtual Roundtable to discuss remote learning with tips and ideas for keeping your student engaged from a distance. Read on for sign-up details.

Thank you for all of the adjustments and efforts you’ve made to continue working remotely. Please know that a small number of laptops are still available for students.

Happy Valentine’s weekend and Happy February,

Jane Seiss, Executive Director AACLCJane Seiss, Executive Director
Anne Arundel County Literacy Council
410-926-5797 (cell)
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We have received heartwarming news of tutors helping students navigate the pandemic and its challenges — providing guidance, over-the-phone translation help, and other resources. Staff also receive reports of students expressing their thanks with written messages and cards, home-cooked meals, offers of support, and small gifts.

Thanks to all of our tutors and students for their perseverance and kindness!

We read all of the comments you submit to us on our reporting forms and by email. We receive voicemails almost every day. Your updates are important and much appreciated.

Our tutor-student partnerships are a shining example of community cohesion. We are pleased to have a part in facilitating connection, friendship, positive influence, and possibility in Anne Arundel County.

(Thank-you card pictured above by AACLC student, Lois Lawrence.)

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Student Souzan Alasafar


Mary Anne uses cell phone videos to provide “in-person” tutoring

ESL Tutor Mary Anne Stoner has continued working with her student, Souzan Alasafar, throughout the pandemic. They are using lessons and worksheets so that Souzan may improve her English comprehension, vocabulary, and speaking skills.

Every week, Mary Anne delivers a “homework folder” filled with printed readings and worksheets to Souzan’s doorstep. Souzan reads the materials and completes the worksheets.

Mary Anne picks up the finished homework, reviews, and marks it up, making corrections. She writes up a list of any words that Souzan struggled with, keeps a copy of everything for herself, and returns the corrected work to Souzan.

Once Souzan has the corrected materials in hand, Mary Anne sends Souzan a short review video filmed on a cell phone. In the video, Mary Anne goes over the parts of the homework that Souzan found most challenging, sounding out words clearly and sometimes explaining the meanings of new vocabulary or American idioms. The videos are only a few minutes in length, but they are rich with instruction and provide a modified “in-person” experience.

Tutor Mary Anne Stoner

Tutor Mary Anne Stoner

Mary Anne is also tutoring Souzan’s husband, Wardan. He is currently overseas, and he stays in touch with Mary Anne by email. He watches her short instructional videos too.


Mary Anne and Bob Stoner have been AACLC ESL tutors since 2016. Serving as the Literacy Council’s ESL Training and Resource Team, the Stoner’s manage our ESL curriculum and materials. They provide training to new ESL tutors at our training workshops.

Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy’s Gap Map of the U.S.

At the end of 2020, the Barbara Bush Foundation published its literacy Gap Map. Using PIAAC survey data*, the interactive tool illustrates what literacy looks like across the United States. Not surprisingly, the Foundation notes that people often experience poverty, poor health, and low-income mobility where there is low literacy.

According to literacy scores, in Anne Arundel County, 15% of adults lack basic literacy skills. While this rate may seem low compared to numbers in other parts of the country, it means that here at home, there are tens of thousands of adult residents who score low enough to be at risk for not understanding written materials or even basic vocabulary. The ramifications of low literacy flow into all areas of life.

Visit to explore nationwide findings and to examine literacy data for Anne Arundel County.

*PIAAC — Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies — is a survey of adult skills sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It “examines a range of basic skills such as literacy, numeracy, and digital problem solving and assesses these adult skills in a consistent manner across participating countries.” The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) administers the program in the U.S. See more information here.

Post image for Director’s Message January 2021

We enter 2021 with great hope for our programs and students. In 2020, a collective of Literacy Council tutors, students, staff, and community partners adapted in the face of tremendous challenges to continue our progress and achievements.

Last year, students accomplished a range of goals. [click to continue…]

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Maria Elena Pineda


Congratulations to student Maria Elena Pineda who voted for the first time this year! She shared with us her thoughts on tutoring and becoming a U.S. citizen.

“It is a big dream of mine to become a U.S. citizen. It was a long road. My tutor (Karen Calhoun) and I started studying for the civics test in 2019, and I took the oath of citizenship in July 2020. Together, Karen and I made it happen. We both worked hard—I studied many hours, and she patiently explained and adapted the lessons to make sure I could understand and remember them. Karen has become an important person in my life. She is not just my tutor, she is my friend as well. I trust her, and she has helped me trust myself, to know and have confidence that I can achieve my dreams.” — Maria Elena Pineda

Many thanks to Maria’s tutor, Karen Calhoun — a Literacy Council volunteer since 2017!