Greetings once again from the Newberry County Literacy Council. The leaves may not have turned yet but we have a full schedule of colorful activities underway for the fall season.
The FAST Program (Families and Schools Together) has reconvened. This program has been very successful in helping parents become more successful in assisting their children with their education. It meets Mondays at 5:30 p.m. at Newberry Elementary School.
The People’s College began its fall session on Sept. 11. As I hope most readers know by now, the People’s College is a series of college-like seminars exploring the great writers, great works, and great figures of history. People of all educational levels are welcome.
Our 10-week fall seminar is exploring the life and good works of Jane Addams, founder of the famous Hull House in Chicago in 1890 and winner of the Noble Peace Prize. The story of her active engagement on behalf of struggling citizens in her community is still inspirational today. We meet Mondays at 5:30 p.m. at the Council office at 1208 Main St.
The Weekly Reader Book Club began meeting again on Sept. 12 at 11 a.m. at the Council office. We are reading Above the Waterfall, one of Ron Rash’s latest novels. It is set in the mountains of North Carolina and follows the story of a county sheriff and a park ranger as they deal with community and personal issues.
Rash incorporates some of the writing style and poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins into the narrative and the poetic beauty of the writing shines through. We read and discuss about 30 pages each week.
The Brown Bag Dialogues group is meeting on selected Wednesdays at the Literacy office. We started this group last fall as an opportunity for those who run non-profits or government service programs or who have a strong interest in promoting the quality of life for all in our community to discuss ways to collaborate in meeting needs.
We have been exploring the possibility of creating a community center that would have after-school programs for children, classes in parenting, reading, and active citizenship for adults, issues forums, and space for representatives from social service agencies to have satellite offices.
Barbara Chapman, our Executive Director, completed a very successful summer camp program at Wise Street park. Children read, completed projects, exercised (including tennis lessons), and had a hot lunch prepared and delivered by folks at Grant Homes. This was one of several similar camps held around the county.
At the conclusion of the camps, there was a parade downtown with the mayor, law enforcement personnel, all the kids and counselors, and others participating. We concluded with some remarks at Memorial Park and, of course, food. Congratulations to Barbara and all the many others who have made these camps work.
Remember, too, that we offer tutoring in basic reading and math and have programs in financial and health literacy. In the spring, once again we will offer free tax preparation.
During EclipseFest, the Literacy Council served as the Welcome Center for the many guests who shared the event with our community. We dispensed maps, schedules of events, glasses, patches, and any information requested. We saw travelers from Japan, Austria and dozens of U.S. states. Congratulations to all in the community who made this event work.
This fall we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Literacy Council’s move to Main Street. We love our location and being in the midst of all the activity on Main Street. We are more visible, have more visitors, and have more and better space for our programs. If you haven’t visited our site, please come in for a tour.
As a new school year starts and we begin our fall programs, we will keep our eyes on the prize. The prize we seek is a community of committed readers, from the youngest to the oldest. Every year should be the year of reading. We can all share in this goal by reading to a child, volunteering at a school and the Literacy Council, joining a book club, supporting the library, and any other way you can.
As an engaged citizen, you can also monitor political decisions that affect education in our state and provide assistance to those struggling. Our state ranks low in measures of education quality so there is much to be done. Ask your representatives what their proposals are for improvement.
Until next time – happy reading!
Joseph McDonald is a retired sociology professor from Newberry College and has worked with the Newberry County Literacy Council for more than 20 years as a tutor and board member. The Literacy Council is located at 1121 Caldwell St. Visit newberryread.com, call 803-276-8086 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.