Originally created 09/30/05

Center offers skills classes



Suzanna Mitchell no longer has to pester her son or her niece for computer help.

Ms. Mitchell took a computer class at the Augusta State University Born to Read Literacy Center at East Augusta Middle School.

The center conducted the pilot program this summer and Thursday held its ribbon cutting and official opening.

"It was a little scary because computers are scary," she said, adding that instructors helped her build confidence.

"With someone sitting next to you, you can't go wrong."

The best part of the experience was the individual instruction, Ms. Mitchell said.

The literacy center is registering students and will begin offering free reading skills, writing skills, rsum, computer and finance management classes Oct. 10.

The center also provides GED assistance.

"You build a community when you do this," said Katye Williams, the site coordinator. "You're changing people so they can better themselves."

During the pilot program, the students ranged in age from those just out of high school to people in their 70s, said Drew Brown, the center coordinator.

"We just construct the classes to fit their needs," Mrs. Brown said. "Many had the desire to go out and get better jobs, so we helped them get the skills."

Ms. Mitchell is using her skills as a student at Aiken Technical College.

Her time at the center this summer enabled her to speed up her typing skills and learn to be comfortable with the computer, which comes in handy as she studies early childhood education.

"This has been a godsend for me," she said.

The center was staffed this summer by student volunteers from Augusta State University and will have student and community volunteers staffing it during the school year, Mrs. Brown said.

A class will be held in November to train adults who want to volunteer at the center.

The adult literacy center is a collaboration between the Richmond County Board of Education, Augusta State University and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

According to the National Institute for Literacy, 43 percent of Augusta is at level 1, the lowest level of literacy.

Adults at level 1 can perform many tasks involving simple texts and documents but struggle with many functions necessary for everyday life.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

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Classes at the Augusta State University Born to Read Literacy Center at East Augusta Middle School will begin Oct. 10. To register for classes or to volunteer, call Katye Williams at 823-6960 or Dr. Paulette Harris at 729-2045.