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STAR Literacy - Volunteer Tutoring Program

For 30 years, STAR Literacy has provided free tutoring to individuals 18+ who want/need to improve their basic literary skills (reading, writing, numeracy, and financial literacy) and/or English language skills.  All of our clients live in St. Albert.  The learners we provide tutoring to are: basic adult literacy/numeracy learners, adults with intellectual challenges and English language learners, whom although some have lived in Canada for a number of years, approach us as their need for English is required.

Low literacy affects everyone across all social and economic barriers.  Many of the learners in the STAR Literacy program live below the poverty line and are looking to improve their literacy or English language skills to attain better jobs.  Other learners want to be able to access further educational opportunities that are not open to them due to their low literacy/numeracy skills or haven’t graduated from High School. We currently work with Poundmaker’s clients in recovery for addiction who in most cases didn’t pass Elementary Grade levels.  Others just want to learn how to read to make connections in the community to reduce their feelings of isolation; to help children with schoolwork; to read to children or grandchildren; to be able to read prescription labels and medicine; read bus schedules; read directions; read safety manuals at work; etc.

Volunteers in the program are matched with learners to work one-on-one to improve literacy/numeracy skills and/or learn English. English Language learners are encouraged to attend our English Language Learning Courses offered through St. Albert Further Education and to attend the Conversation Circle; offered in partnership with the St. Albert Public Library.  This drop–in program run by tutors, help language learners practice their English and meet new friends as they learn through conversations that center around the participant’s lives & current events. A recently formed ladies group, “Women Building Bridges” help newcomers to integrate into the community.

Volunteers first need to interview with the coordinator to determine their acceptability.  After a Criminal Record Check is attained and light paperwork is completed, the tutor is matched to a suitable learner. An interview is set for the two parties to meet with the coordinator to determine goals for the learner and to start their sessions that are scheduled around their mutual availability. Volunteers and learners meet once a week for 1.5-2.0 hours. They meet at the St. Albert Public Library, and may eventually move to each other’s homes, once a relationship is established.  Volunteers are asked to commit to 6 months to a year but the program is flexible. Many matches have a history of 3, 5, 7 years; even 16 years.  Friendships are often formed and continue even after their sessions end when a learner has met their goals. Some of the goals that have been met: to open a day home, get their driver’s license, and obtain Canadian Citizenship. Computers are provide to learners for their sessions and to take home to continue their learning.  Resources and training are available to tutors through our office. Our future relies on our volunteers and every effort is made to support and recognize them.

The STAR Literacy program runs all year. Many of our tutors are retired who often travel in the winter months and are therefore available throughout the summer months.  Sessions may be put on hold if either party has travel plans, an operation, etc.

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” Winston Churchill

Call Susanne at 780-459-5864