Hi, my name is Madeline Kahl and I’m a first year VISTA serving with Washtenaw Literacy in Ypsilanti, MI. Washtenaw Literacy’s mission is, “Believing that literacy is the foundation for a sustainable community, Washtenaw Literacy provides literacy support, free of charge, to adults through a network of trained tutors.” Their goal: to eliminate illiteracy in Washtenaw County. I’ve been serving with them since the beginning of February. As I said in my last blog, I chose to serve with AmeriCorps because I didn’t know what I wanted to do professionally post-graduation. Now that I’m almost halfway done with my service, I’m a bit closer to figuring it out!
Many of my initial thoughts and opinions from the beginning of my time remain the same. Still, no day is like the other. Back in the winter when I began, I spent the majority of my time serving at our Community Opportunity Center (COC). This summer, I still find myself there twice a week. However, I’ve begun extending myself into new opportunities. Most recently, I began working with my fellow VISTA David at Washtenaw County Jail. David and I go to the jail every Tuesday to administer the TOSCRF to new inmates. The TOSCRF is Test of Silent Contextual Reading Fluency. The test takes 3 minutes to administer and is used to assess what grade level the test taker reads at. Washtenaw County Jail is just one of many places where Washtenaw Literacy administers this test. Other locations include food banks and homeless shelters. The data from the test results is gathered to get a better understanding of the scope of illiteracy in Washtenaw County.
In addition, I am continuing to coordinate at Fresh Start Clubhouse. Fresh Start is a Washtenaw County organization serving adults with mental illness. Twice a week myself and a couple tutors go to the clubhouse and hold open tutoring! In the beginning of my time serving there, attendance was very low and inconsistent. However, now I’m happy to report that tutoring has been bustling! Every week we have an average of 4 learners. To many, that may not seem like a lot. Nonetheless, it's a great improvement from the average 1 learner we had when I began. Back in the winter, Fresh Start applied for a grant which included a “Literacy Lab” run by Washtenaw Literacy. In the spring they were awarded the grant. Now, it is my responsibility to begin planning and creating curriculum for the literacy lab. The lab will focus on how to serve/tutors adult living with mental illness. I’m excited to see what I can learn through this opportunity!
Come the end of August, Washtenaw Literacy will be bringing in two new VISTAs. I’m very excited about the idea of having two new people to work and collaborate with. With such a small staff, the addition of two new minds is going to be really impactful. I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned so far with them and seeing what new skills and ideas they bring to the table. My last 5 months have been a great learning experience and I can’t wait to see what else is yet to come!