Philosophy and History
Although there is no formal consensus on the definition of literacy, we believe that it is more than just being able to read and write. Our purpose is not only to help adults develop the reading and writing skills necessary to meet their specific objectives, but also to help create a learning environment which enables students to find their own voice--and then be heard.
We are a volunteer-based organization which provides literacy tutoring on a one- to-one basis. Students are encouraged to set their own goals and help tutors develop a personalized curriculum that enables them to work towards these goals. A goal can be anything from helping a child with his or her homework to preparing for the workplace to handling business correspondence.
No one can be "taught" to read and write. As tutors, we can act as guides to learning, giving the student the tools, experiences and materials necessary for their own learning. Ultimately, however, everyone is responsible for his or her own learning.
We believe that success leads to more success. Every lesson should leave the student with some knowledge that he didn't previously possess. This could be discovering the meaning of a new word or finishing a book for the first time.
People learn best in a situation where they are respected and encouraged to reach out and discover. Our belief in our students will give them the confidence to make progress and ultimately achieve their goals.
The S.T.A.R.T. (Starting Together at Reading Together) program was launched in 1986 by Leslie Pirie, a local elementary school teacher, after a parent asked for help learning to read. Leslie soon had friends helping her tutor other adults, and before long other people heard about it and wanted to get involved. From these humble beginnings, grew the English-language literacy program in South Temiskaming.
In May of 1989, Vicki Trottier became the program coordinator, and shortly afterwards, she was approached by local social service agencies to form a council. We felt that a program overseen by a council, rather than an individual, would allow us to become a more active and professional community member.
In February of 1990, the Literacy Council of South Temiskaming held its inaugural meeting. In August of the same year, we became an incorporated council and, one month later, we received charitable status which allows us to issue official receipts for donations.
The program has grown from that one student in 1986 to hundreds of students as of June 2008. In the past, we delivered the literacy component of a re-training program for Northern College. We have provided on-site workplace literacy training to local businesses and delivered a rural literacy program for learners unable to come into town. Full-time classes are currently provided at our main office in Haileybury.