November 16, 2009
The following story was written by Ray Gentry, from Cowansville, Quebec. Ray is enrolled in literacy classes at the Yamaska Literacy Council.
At the age of 17 I was fed up with school so I quit because I thought I would just stay in the same grade for the rest of my life. I went to a car wash and made $260.00, but at the same time I went back to school part-time for about 2 years. Then I got other jobs like cutting grass, and made more money. I was working and doing very well for myself while at the same time putting money in the bank, but that didn’t last very long because I partied all the time with my friends.
I was 19 years old and lost my car wash job because I started getting into trouble with the law, doing stupid things trying to make easy money. Because I could not read properly I found myself doing menial jobs and got frustrated. All I wanted was to get rich quick, but that did not work. So I tried some other ways to make money but they never worked out legally. As the years went by I found myself in trouble with the law again and again. I guess I just didn’t get it the first time around when the judge told me that I would spend time in jail if I didn’t smarten up and fly right.
The years went on and I got older. By age 27 I started to push myself. I wanted to be more productive and get a good job to support myself. I didn’t want to rely on social assistance. I got to thinking about how I could get back into studying, so four years ago I found a program to enroll in, the Laubach Literacy program. The ladies of the local Yamaska Literacy Council in the Eastern Townships area where I live volunteer to help people who are in need of special education. I met them through a church group. The Laubach program has been around for over 70 years and teaches people all over the world how to read. It depends on one-on-one tutoring from rained tutors who sit with me. They don’t assume I have a problem. They listen patiently and go through their material at my own speed. You don’t have to rush to do tests, like in normal schools. There is no failure and there are no other students to compete against. I haven’t quit yet. I am eager to attend every week.
Reading and writing better has opened up doors and the world for me. I write poems and essays, and I have even attended classes through the Thomas More Institute adult education college, who also visit my local chapel. Now I mostly teach myself with my computer and with books I read on my own, but the Laubach tutors are still an excellent help. One of my poems was selected Story of the Week and posted on the National Adult Literacy Database Website. I could never have done this without my literacy training. I would never have had the confidence to try and write like that.
[This story was taken with permission, from the Yamaska Literacy Council website, under Student Stories.]