Originally created 03/28/06

Help wanted

The only problem with the Augusta State University Literacy Center is that it's too good, creating a waiting list for pupils in need of tutoring.

The center has the students, space and enthusiasm but continues to lack enough volunteers to serve those who want to be tutored.

"I get so many sad stories of people who want to come, and we just don't have enough tutors," said Paulette Harris, who runs the literacy center. "We would like to be able to help as many as we possibly could within the confines of the space limitations we have."

Arpita Patel, an ASU student and volunteer, said that the center is serving 132 students but that there are still 56 children on a waiting list because of the shortage in tutors.

"We need tutors," she said. "We can't say that enough."

Ms. Patel described with enthusiasm why she chose to volunteer.

"I think it's just so rewarding when they come to you and they are just like, 'I got my first A,'" Ms. Patel said. "It's just rewarding knowing you can help them achieve more in life."

Priscilla Lyons began tutoring this semester after hearing about a number of similar positive experiences from friends. Working in the center is even making the biology major consider a career in education.

Mrs. Lyons said she shares in the joy when her pupils show progress.

Dr. Harris said the center ideally offers one-on-one tutoring, but the lack of volunteers means tutors might be working with two or three pupils at a time. Some get "lost" in larger classroom settings.

"What we do is far more than teaching the initial phonics sounds or something," she said. "We go as far as the individual wants to go, and some want to go a long way."

Ms. Patel recalled splitting her time between two pupils at very different skill levels, which prevented them from getting as much as they could from the literacy center had there been more tutors.

"More than us, they are getting gypped," she said.

There is "never an overabundance" of volunteers, Dr. Harris said.

The literacy center has provided help to everyone from young children to adults in their 80s, she said. Tutors are just as diverse.

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

How to volunteer

To volunteer as a tutor, call the Augusta State University Literacy Center at (706) 733-7043 or stop by the center's open house, set for 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. April 21. Training for volunteers will be held this summer.


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