The mission of Literacy Pittsburgh (formerly Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council) is to ensure that adults and families acquire reading, writing, math, English language, computer skills and workforce skills so they may reach their fullest potential in life and participate productively in their community.
Literacy Pittsburgh is a national leader in adult and family literacy. Literacy Pittsburgh has been providing a wide range of educational programs to adults and families throughout Allegheny County for 30 years. Now also including Beaver County, we serve our students and volunteers through regional neighborhood offices, our Beaver County office, and our Pittsburgh Downtown Center.
I have been a volunteer tutor with GPLC for over 10 years. Because of the wonderful, grass-roots work that GPLC does and the way our services help students achieve amazing goals, I would highly recommend GPLC to friends and colleagues. In fact, I have. My brother is now a GPLC tutor and other friends of mine that are near retirement will soon be tutors!
Volunteering as an ESL tutor with GPLC does involve a commitment of time, but it is well worth the investment and extremely worthwhile. You are doing 'real good' in your community and developing friendships with students who will inspire you! GPLC provides great support and lots of opportunities for networking and resource-sharing. Frankly, I get as much if not more out of my experiences than my students.
From a volunteer training perspective, my experience was disheartening. Mid-December 2014 I was urgently asked to teach an 8 session class starting the first week in January 2015. I received no GPLC training on how to conduct the class. Though I requested a class outline and materials I received very little to explain how to conduct the class. Therefore I used my own materials from other successful training classes. After 4 of the 8 sessions I was told my materials were too deep and making some of the students feel stupid. Two problem students left after only minutes in the class which doesn't show much dedication to learning new material. I was released from the training after doing only 4 of 8 sessions. To get more in-tune with GPLC teaching techniques I requested to monitor classes in February 2015. I was told this was not necessary because the demand has decreased. GPLC doesn't agree with my teaching methods and will probably not use me again?
I have volunteered with GPLC in their ESL program for four years and have enjoyed it greatly. I have tutored several students from a variety of countries and have learned so much from them! I find students to be very appreciative of my efforts as well as the chance to get to know an American. I also participate in GPLC's telephone partner program in which I speak for 30 minutes a week with a student. Occasionally, I meet them for coffee so we can see who we are talking to. My efforts have been appreciated by the organization and assistance on various issues has always been willingly provided. This is an entirely worthwhile organization to commit one's energies to, and I have recommended it to several friends looking for satisfying volunteer experience.
Over the past seven years, as a GPLC volunteer tutor, I’ve worked with many different ESL students. They have all been enthusiastic learners who have inspired me in many ways. Often our meetings are the only occasion the students have for practicing their English in a non threatening setting and they are grateful for this opportunity. I cherish the relationships that I have made through tutoring. The professional staff of GPLC is very helpful about assisting tutors with resource material and other support. My local coordinator is wonderful and offers encouragement when needed. Attending monthly “Tutor Talks” is informative and a good way to meet other tutors and brainstorm new ideas. If you are looking for a meaningful way to make a contribution to your community, please consider contacting GPLC. You do not have to be an education expert but merely have the desire to make someone's life a little easier. Volunteering with GPLC is enjoyable, extremely rewarding and just a whole of fun!
I am passionate about education, and thoroughly enjoy tutoring with GPLC. My students are awesome, and I have been able to turn to many staff members for ideas and guidance to benefit my students. The staff is never too busy to help me even though I know their plates are full. In fact, the staff often embraces my ideas, and offers additional opportunities for sharing those thoughts with other tutors. The initial training is comprehensive but feels overwhelming until you start tutoring, then a mentor tutor reaches out to help you-- wow. In addition, a lot of ongoing training is offered for tutors who wish to take advantage of it. I've tutored both Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) students. My work schedule doesn't allow me to spend as many hours as I'd like with my students, but we work hard when we're together and make that time count. I'm proud to support GPLC in any way I can. I think it's a top notch organization.
The first two years were great! Sadly, it went downhill. First, all volunteers were given mandates about "extra" professional development hours. Those who protested were told to be quiet. It was ridiculous to add on hours to volunteers whose time was already stretched thin with prep work and the required four hours per week volunteering. Secondly, I started getting mailings for financial donations. This felt like a slap in the face. I am already giving you time and energy, and now you want my money, too! Then our coordinator left. They replaced her with an incompetent girl who didn't know anything about literacy or ESL. You will also be micromanaged. They will call you into their office to have "chats" about your performance and make you feel stupid. I have been waiting a year for new tutees since mine successfully completed their studies, and the third new coordinator has yet to contact me. Don't volunteer here. They won't appreciate you and will treat you like a child.
"Once Upon A Time" is a familiar introduction to many of our world-wide fairy tales. It is such a comfortable message to our brain that transports us into another world. I like to think of it as an escape into something unpredictable. My adventure begins just like that: anticipation as to whether I should volunteer as a GPLC tutor, am I qualified, will I pass the test, with whom will I first share my abilities?
My experiences over the past 5 years have been exhilarating, to say the least. I would encourage all of you to share in what continues to be very rewarding for me.
Sign up today for the training sessions nearest to you and ENJOY your class, ask questions, DIG IN and you will be thrilled with the appreciation that that your student expresses . . . you will not regret your attempt to share yourself. What I discovered is that you will wish you had more time, more students and ask, WHY DID I NOT DO THIS TEN YEARS AGO?
Because GPLC taught me how to tutor and continues to assist me when it's needed, I've been able to fulfil a dream of working with wonderful students who have a desire to learn. Tutoring gives me a sense of purpose and I enjoy giving to my community. GPLC has created a win-win situation in my life. Everyone gains from the experience.
by Angele E. from Pittsburgh, PA(February 26, 2009)
GPLC has given me the opportunity to "open up a life"--not only by helping my student, Gary P, to improve his reading and writing skills, but by helping him to get a job, to manage his home, and to increase his self-confidence. When Gary told me that he had volunteered to work the polls for a city council candidate because she promised him that she would work to improve public education--and that he had attended her victory party--I knew that our work together had enriched his life and mine in amazing ways.