Moore County Literacy Council builds self-esteem skills new U.S. citizens

The Moore County Literacy Council had two new tutors graduate on May 4 from its tutoring training program. Aggie Cohen and Flavia Abele will now offer tutoring in English as a second language. The tutoring program assists in both learning English and in attaining U.S. citizenship.

Cohen retired to Moore County after living in Pennsylvania for 30 years. She said she could complain on the sidelines and moan about how many people do not have jobs and cannot read – or help someone.

Abele has lived in Moore County for one year since her spouse retired from the military. She volunteered as a tutor in Maryland and said it was a lot of fun. She said so far she has only helped with Spanish-speaking students.

Tutors have four sessions, equaling 10 hours of training, and are in demand. 

Students are welcome to learn as long and as much as they desire. There are eight levels of books, and one returning student is now reading Jane Austen books.

“I get to see people improve their lives, especially see their self-esteem go up every time they come,” Program Specialist Susan Lamm said.

There is a wide range of languages and dialects entering Moore County Literacy Council. Students from the Philippines, Italy, Venezuela, Ukraine, and Taiwan are a few. “Asian students have a difficult time because they don’t have r’s in their language,” Lamm said. “They have to learn that weird sound.”

The tutoring is free and lasts indefinitely. There are students who keep coming back. “We want students to return, so we have to make them feel safe and comfortable,” Abele said about developing trusting relationships with her tutoring students.

According to the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management 2020 report, migration is a key reason for the state’s growth and is expected to continue. The Asian population was estimated at 1.6%, Hispanic or Latino at 7.1%, and foreign-born at 4.6%, in the 2019 census.

Moore County Literacy Council builds self-esteem skills and new U.S. citizens

Tutor Jean Franke (left) and students Cecilia Ortega (center) and Yamile Morales (right) are ready to begin class on May 4 at Moore County Literacy Council.

Student Yamile Morales is from Venezuela and student Cecilia Ortega is from Columbia. They have been tutored over Zoom by Jean Franke since October and met Franke in person for the first time on May 4. Franke has been in Moore County for two years and taught English as a second language in Chicago. They each said learning over Zoom was hard, and Ortega said she was not around English-speaking people and that made learning more challenging.

Morales and Ortega made casual conversation in English, and Morales gifted Venezuelan chicken-stuffed cachapa, a corn-flour pancake, with hot sauce to her tutor and the program specialist. “I love my job,” Lamm said as she held the food container to her heart.

Moore County Literacy Council is funded by grants, private donations and fundraising. Call (910) 692-5954 for tutor training or to enroll in the English as a Second Language program.

Feature photo: Moore County Literacy Council tutor graduate Aggie Cohen, Program Specialist Susan Lamm and tutor graduate Flavia Abele are ready to help on May 4 at the council’s office located at Ice House Square, 575 SE Broad Street, Suite 10, Southern Pines.

~Article and photos by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Stephanie Sellers.

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