Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Literacy is Life!!

Today I am excited to introduce our guest:
Mrs. Mora da Silva,
Director of the Charlotte Adult Learning Center
Charlotte County, VA.

Without the ability to read, writers like myself would be useless.  Words are found everywhere.  Even if you know the language that doesn't mean you can read it.  Just because you can make the sounds doesn't mean you understand it.  Literacy is life!  Without being literate, a person doesn't have the chance to live life... they just exist.  Help others learn.

Ann:  Welcome Mora. It is great to have this chance to talk with you.  I know that you have a very busy schedule. To start off with, I'd like to find out what it is that the Adult Learning Center's mission is.

Mora: To improve adult literacy and foster lifelong learning in and around Charlotte county one student at a time

Ann:  That sounds like a huge task. How did you get involved with this line of work, and what training did you receive?

Mora: I have a master’s in reading education from UVA.  There I trained to be a reading specialist, but I also had ten years experience prior to that working at an arts nonprofit in McLean, Virginia. Since I started at the center, I have been to lots of workshops at different conferences around the state that have helped me do my job better.

Ann:  I have to admit that I'm surprised at how much goes on behind the scene.  What is the biggest struggle that you have faced in the battle for Literacy?

Mora:  No non-profit builds its capacity without careful maintenance of its data, meaning keeping accurate student, volunteer, and donor numbers. Building a good reputation in the community by compiling, studying, and reporting our data to our stakeholders has been a very important project for me and I thank Donna Dilts for helping me get all those monthly hours in the database.

Ann:  As a volunteer tutor, I have begun to see, first hand, the extent of this problem.  What advice would you give to those out there that have friends and family that have difficulties with literacy?

Mora: Find a local literacy provider at the website and take this person to them for free tutoring. You can also become a trained tutor and help them yourself. The importance of being literate is not to be underestimated---we are talking about human potential.

Ann:  What are some of the outreach programs that your organization participates in?

Mora: We try to have a presence the Charlotte County Festival every year, at the Charlotte Primary Care children’s health day, and at other festivals. I often speak at club and town council meetings. Our board of directors is comprised of local government, school, and business leaders.

Ann:  Now, with all programs, funding is one of those topics that is vital even if not the most enjoyable.  If I understand correctly, the Adult Learning Center is not directly government funded.  You rely heavily on donations from the community.  How does that impact your work?

Mora: We receive some funding from the county. The rest of our income comes from grants and donations. It is not easy running a school on such a limited budget, so I have to make fundraising a part of my daily work, whether it’s soliciting donations, planning fundraisers, marketing, or even writing thank you letters. Thankfully the Charlotte Adult Learning Center is powered by volunteers who cannot be thanked enough for their commitment to the students.

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Ann:  What are some of the exciting achievements the Adult Learning Center has been able to enjoy since you have been working there?

Mora: We have increased our hours of operations from 15 to 33 per week since I began coordinating. We have also increased out student numbers from about 60 to 180-190 per year. We have a beautiful books store, a new carpet in the main classroom. We just had fiber internet put in last month to replace the antenna we had before. There are lots and lots of achievements every year---the small and the large. When a student is able to read a book for the first time, read a passage of the Bible to his congregation for the first time, write an e-mail to his wife, understand how to calculate a discount---these are major accomplishments. But to me, the most exciting is to see a student get his or her GED. That is so rewarding.

Ann:  Do you have any upcoming events or benchmarks that you have for this next year that you would like to share?

Mora: I am training tutors all spring to help with the final push for our GED students wanting to get their certificates before the test changes in 2014. Tutors can also help with our low level students.

Ann:  As members of the online community, how can our readers get involved?  What do you want them to know?

Mora: Anyone wanting more information can look at our website For those that want to unleash their inner teacher, call me and I will tell you more about upcoming tutor trainings. We also take used books for our bookstore. If you want to teach a class, let’s talk.

Ann:  While people can follow your Center specifically at  and, what are some other websites you would recommend?

Mora: I have added many good websites to our website---so please go there. One of my favorite websites for learning math is

Ann:  Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us today.  There is a lot of ways that people can get involved.  Literacy is such a major element in our daily survival.  I feel that awareness is one of the ways to reduce illiteracy in the world.  I hope that you have enjoyed our visit as much as I have.

Mora: Yes I have! Thank you Ann, and thank you for being a literacy tutor.

Ann:  I'm loving it.  I have learned so much from helping others. 

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