Two weeks ago, over 100 volunteer tutors from across the country gathered in Belmont for Alta's Annual Tutors Meeting. Tutor meetings are a combination of on-going training and relationship building at Alta–all part of developing a culture of collaboration and maintaining high calibre tutors to serve our students.
This year's meeting was a rousing success because it reflected those aims so well with the presence of adult literacy professor and author Joanne Kilgour-Dowdy.
Professor Kilgour-Dowdy, a daughter of the soil living in the United States, is still very invested in helping her native country. She has been a supporter of Alta for 14 years and was enthusiastic that this year the timing of her visit to Trinidad in June coincided with our end-of-academic year Tutors Meeting. Apart from her obvious connection to Alta's work, as a guest speaker this year she brought to Alta a valuable resource by way of her latest book, Olympic Hero: Lennox Kilgour's Story.
The book written about her father, Trinidad Olympian and medallist Lennox "Gour" Kilgour is an illustrated book for children, but also ideal for students at Alta Reading Circles who meet weekly to practise their reading in an informal setting. Tutors and Reading Circle guides had the opportunity to see first-hand the professor at work, breathing life into its pages.
Joanne Kilgour Dowdy was a performer first before becoming a professor of literacy and she certainly shone on the Alta stage. She engaged tutors with a range of practical tools to bring her book to life and enhance reading comprehension. They became her students first, then got the chance to be actively involved in her process. The workshop format had tutors pairing up to complete literacy activities and respond as she modelled these. It was a novel experience for tutors who don't all know each other outside their respective class venues or region.
Dr Kilgour-Dowdy brought along a film crew and has promised to give Alta a copy of the edited video. This will be a great addition to our teaching material to train Reading Circle guides as the strategies modelled fit nicely with the recent restructuring of Reading Circles to use the Guided Reading Approach. The Alta training for reading guides is on the first Saturday in October every year, this year on October 4, and Alta is seeking new volunteers to be reading guides at locations throughout Trinidad. The training is just one day and the commitment one two-hour session per week as opposed to the two sessions asked of Alta tutors.
The Tutors Meeting was also a great time for newly-trained volunteers to see Alta's culture of collaboration at work and grab hold of the opportunity to be engaged and involved after an intensive six-week training of their own. Alta is preparing for a new intake of students in September and the start of Reading Circles in October with greater hope that with more collaboration and the right support, adults unable to read will no longer be afraid to step into the light and shine.
Thank you, Joanne Kilgour-Dowdy, for your powerful lesson.
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