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Alta tutor stories

Published: 
Thursday, June 21, 2018

In celebration of Alta’s 25th anniversary, Alta tutors around the country were asked to write about the impact the organisation has had on their lives. Since 1992, Alta has provided classes around the country for thousands of Trinidadians who struggle with reading and writing. Every year Alta trains almost 100 new tutors who provide literacy instructions to students at venues around Trinidad. In order to become a certified adult literacy tutor, trainees must teach at Alta venues for one academic year. While some leave after the mandatory year, most stay on with Alta, teaching different levels at various venues and even going on to co-ordinate and volunteer in other capacities.

This week, Alta tutor Christine Parris-Debique, who has been teaching for the past two years at the Harvard Club venue, shares how Alta has changed her life.

“Being a tutor at Alta is something I had been interested in for several years. However, because of the constraints of work commitments, I was unable to attend the necessary tutor training. At last I reached retirement age and being still of sound mind and body I attended the tutor training in Arima, although I had originally signed to train in Belmont. Alta administration asked if I would kindly consent to do training during the week instead of Saturdays since they preferred to use those for the working applicants.

“Even going to Arima was an experience as I have been a ‘North and West girl’ for all of my life. The old saying that town people do not know any place east of the lighthouse is slightly true.”

Parris-Debique continues: “Training was intense and I must say that it reminded me of a ballroom dancing class I once enrolled in—you think you can dance (until) you reach the dance class. Similarly, you only appreciate your knowledge of English after attending training. Having been weaned in ‘A for apple, B for bay’ and Nelson West Indian Readers, learning about phonics took a bit of getting used to and was certainly an eye-opener.

“The tutors were very experienced and having the founder of Alta and her immediate assistants also being part of the training exercises showed the level of commitment to the association. I elected to teach at the Harvard Club and I’ve been fortunate to work under the guidance of one of the longest serving tutors, Janet Joseph and her second in command Claire Mitchell. The students are an interesting mix and I have been impressed with the significant number of men who attend classes.”

Said Parris-Debique: “Being a tutor at Alta has also opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many people around you every day who need assistance with their reading and writing skills. The course content is also very impressive as the founder ensured that the lessons are topical and relative to the students’ lives.

“Teaching this course has given me patience, increased my ability to be encouraging and to become a better listener. At Harvard, all the tutors are part of a team and work well together all the time ensuring that the exercises are completed within the two hour time frame. I enjoy being part of the Harvard Alta team.”

Volunteer, Donate or Sponsor-a-student. Call 621-5708 or email [email protected] for more info. Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: ALTA

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