Newberry Observer

Fall at the Literacy Council

Greetings from the Newberry County Literacy Council. It is now August which is a period of transition for the Council.

We are winding down our summer activities and getting ready to start programs for the fall. The chief summer activity has been the annual children’s program at various sites around the county. Barbara Chapman, our Director, has been leading the one at Wise Street Park. Beginning in June and winding up now, children from the neighborhood have gathered each day for reading, recreation, field trips and lunches. As Ms. Chapman explains, it is important for children to be active during the summer, mentally and physically. Reading skills are threatened if they are not actively used during the summer months. The children also learned tennis skills, swam, and went bowling.

This summer program is now ending, but two programs involving children will kick off in September. One of them is an after-school program for K-12 students to boost their reading and math skills. The program will start in September and run each Monday through Thursday from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. at the Literacy Council. Registration for the program will be August 20-25. Call the Council at 276-8086 for more information.

A second program in the fall is a partnership between the Literacy Council, Newberry Elementary School, and United Way of the Midlands. It is called the Newberry Saturday Academy and focuses on reading skills for K-2 students to help them achieve proper reading level by the time they reach third grade. Students will meet every other Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to noon. They will receive breakfast and a snack and be tutored and mentored by a team of certified teachers, literacy coaches and reading interventionists. There will also be training for parents to be more effective partners in their children’s schooling. This is a great opportunity to get children off to a good start. Transportation will be provided. Call the Council at 276-8086 for registration information.

Also, for the fall, the People’s College and the Weekly Readers Book Club will be back in action. We are in the process of selecting books for both. The Book Club began in 2014 and meets each Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. We read about thirty pages a week and have tackled fiction and non-fiction. Authors have included Pat Conroy, Ron Rash, Ernest Gaines, Allen Patten, Tony Hillerman and William Armstrong. The People’s College, which began in 2015, is a program of ten-week college-like seminars exploring great ideas, great writers, and important people and event. Last year we explored the life of Jane Addams, the founder of Hull-House – a settlement house established in 1890 for immigrants and the poor in Chicago – and an international activist and spokesperson for the rights of children, women, and workers. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931; then we moved to a study of the Vietnam War – why were we there, what happened, and what lessons we can learn from it; and finally, we read about the 1930s – the Depression, the New Deal, and Franklin Roosevelt. Possible ideas for this next year include Eleanor Roosevelt and her life as a powerful First Lady and an international activist following her husband’s death; Marian Wright Edelman, born in Bennettsville, S.C., graduate of Yale Law School, and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund; and Reinhold Niebuhr, one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century whose ideas had a large impact on public policy. The People’s College meets each Monday at 5:30, beginning September 10. The Book Club and the People’s College are for people at all reading levels. We work together to understand the material and support one another. We would love to have some younger participants. Come by to sign up or get more information.

Fall will also bring more group and one-on-one tutoring in reading, math, computers and financial health. In the spring, the free tax preparation program will return.

One final note. If you have walked to the Literacy Office on Main Street or around the corner on Caldwell Street and especially if you have walked around the corner to the courtyard behind the storefronts on Main, you are aware that much is going on. You might think you are in the midst of chaos and confusion. Piles of debris and equipment, bucket trucks and front loaders, teams of people scurrying about, the noise of saws and drills and hammering, people on the roof. What this is, of course, is the continued renovation of the old Newberry Hotel. The result, eventually, will be apartments and artist studios, activity space for events, and an expanded Newberry Arts Center. Most of the storefronts on Main, including the Literacy Council, have brand new interiors as part of the renovation. So drop by and check out what’s new.

Until next time, Happy Reading!

The Literacy Corner

Joseph McDonald

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 1208 Main Street. Visit, call 803-276-8086 or send an email to for more information.