Our History and Philosophy
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-on-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, preparing for the workplace or 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 people 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 many hundreds of students as of June 2013. 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 now located in New Liskeard.
Our planned move to a more central location in New Liskeard will help to increase our student base and provide easier access to education in Computer Skills, personal and professional upgrading in Literacy and Numeracy as well as give us a higher profile in the Temiskaming Shores area.
We owe this success to our many Volunteers, Funding Agencies and Donors and would like to thank everyone who helps us continue our work over the years. We are expanding our role this year through our move and a stronger online presence and are excited at the thought of our continued part in sharing knowledge for personal, professional and therefore community improvement.
Our focus is the delivery of literacy and basic skills in an environment that is conducive to learning and sharing ideas and information. Along with our dedicated volunteers, we work with adults wishing to improve their literacy, numeracy and life skills or looking to obtain specific work skills.
Our learners come from varied backgrounds and educational levels, and each receives instruction geared specifically to them. All services to individual learners are free.
Our catchment area is a large geographical region known as South Temiskaming, located in Northern Ontario, 500 km north of Toronto. There are a number of small towns in the area, and distance and winter weather pose problems for our learners and volunteers.
Learners are referred from many agencies: Ontario Works, Service Canada, Community Living, Workers' Compensation Board, Temiskaming Health Unit, to name a few. Others have heard about our services on the radio or from friends or have visited our booths at local fairs, and made the decision to register with us.
Our Governance and Funding
Through input from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and attendance at professional development seminars, conferences and courses, we are able to provide a professional, competent service for our students and tutors.
We are a "community-based" literacy deliverer, i.e. we receive transfer payments from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, but we are governed by our own, independent Board of Directors. We seek funding from other non-government sources, and offer programming on a fee-for-service basis to other agencies.
To help keep us as independent as possible, we fundraise extensively and have established a number of annual events.
Our Board of Directors
Janet Hynds (Chair)
Kerry Reid (Vice)
Kim Allen (Secretary/Treasurer)
The council is currently made up of 5 Directors, including an Executive. Board meetings are held on the third Monday of each month. For more information, please contact the office at (705) 647-4040.
Our Board is elected by our general membership at our Annual General Meeting, held in the fall of each year. All members of the Literacy Council are eligible to nominate and vote for Directors.