Literacy Volunteers needs tutors

Fifteen out of 100 Wood Countians do not read at a level that allows them to find cross streets on a map, read a newspaper article or understand medical prescriptions or instructions, a local organization says.

The nonprofit Literacy Volunteers of the Mid-Ohio Valley is trying to reverse this statistic by offering free, confidential one-on-one tutoring.

But volunteer tutors are needed to provide life skills to area residents.

Tutor training sessions will be held on Friday, Sept. 15, from 5:30-9 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Ohio Valley University, Room 139, 1 Campus View Drive in Vienna.

Pre-registration is required to be a LVMOV tutor by calling 304-420-4613 or email at Snacks and lunch will be provided at the free Saturday training session, the organization said.

New tutors will be certified with ProLiteracy America, a nationwide organization that sets standards and provides materials to promote literacy.

Also, Literacy Volunteers will provide “English as a Second Language” training from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 23 at Ohio Valley University in Room 143.

Tutoring is provided for adults 18 and older who need to improve their basic reading skills, learn English as a Second Language or enhance life skills such as financial literacy.

Dea Smith of Wood County has enjoyed being a Literacy Volunteers tutor for the past three years.

Smith has tutored young working parents learning English as a Second Language to create a better life for their families. She also has helped teenagers improve their reading skills.

One foreign-born woman sought help through LVMOV because she wanted to learn how to enroll her children in Wood County Schools, Smith said.

Smith has tutored some people for more than two years who wanted to become proficient in their reading and writing of the English language.

Foreign-born students who are still enrolled in the program have been helping new students in the program, serving as interpreters, Smith said.

“They want to give back to the literacy program,” she said.

Many of those seeking assistance locally with reading and writing English are foreign-born residents, said John Swales of Parkersburg, president of Literacy Volunteers of the Mid-Ohio Valley, a United Way agency.

Smith said an older gentleman reached out to Literacy Volunteers because he wanted to read his Bible.

Instruction is still taking place in a private tutoring room in the basement of the Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library, 3100 Emerson Ave., despite the construction at the library. The local chapter has an office at the library.

Tutors help adults get a GED diploma, obtain a driver’s license and become a U.S. citizen.

Employers bring their employees to the literacy program.

Students are first given an evaluation test. LVMOV then tries to match a student to a tutor, Swales said.

“We learn their interest … what reason they have” for wanting to write, speak and read the English language, Swales said.

The tutor then develops a lesson plan for the student. Student and tutor usually meet one or two days a week.

Tutors will continue to work with a person as long as the student wants, Swales said.

Swales started working as a Literacy Volunteers of the Mid-Ohio Valley tutor six years ago after he retired from the Bureau of the Public Debt (now Bureau of Fiscal Service).

Being a tutor is a rewarding experience for Swales.

“This is a much-needed worthwhile project,” Swales said. “Our mission is critical — to give life skills.”

It is a program that helps a person and society.

Contact Paul LaPann at