Oakland Literacy Council
Making Reading Accessible For Everyone
March 5, 2019
January 10, 2019
Bloomfield Hills, MI – Oakland Literacy Council will launch a free, 12-week series of classes for adults with low reading levels who live, work or go to school in Oakland County. The classes will be led by a seasoned, certified teacher from noon to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Oakland Literacy Council’s office in Bloomfield Hills beginning on Feb. 5. Interested students are invited to an orientation on Tuesday, Jan. 22, or Thursday, Jan. 24, at noon.
“Because the class will meet for four hours a week, students will enjoy a sense of community while quickly building their reading fluency and comprehension skills,” says Lisa Machesky, executive director of Oakland Literacy Council. “We are excited to offer the classroom model because it has proven successful in other counties, especially for students who want to brush up on their reading skills before enrolling in a GED preparation program.”
The classroom model is in addition to the core service offered by Oakland Literacy Council of tutoring adults with low literacy by matching each one with a trained volunteer tutor. On any given week, 200 student-tutor pairs meet weekly for two hours throughout the county to build practical English skills.
Students interested in the new class should call the council office at 248-253-1617.
December 18, 2018
Oakland County Commissioner Shelley Taub (right) presented the proclamation to Judy Lindstrom (center) during the council’s board meeting on December 12, 2018. Board member Ann Manning (left) congratulated Judy.
The Oakland County Board of Commissioners has recognized Oakland Literacy Council Board President Judy Lindstrom for her many years of “exceptional dedication, leadership, generosity and philanthropy.”
Judy first volunteered as a tutor for Oakland Literacy Council in 1997. Seven years later, she stepped into her first leadership role. Today, in addition to presiding over the council’s Board of Directors, she chairs the council’s annual fundraising dinner, Ex Libris.
“It is no exaggeration to state that without Judy, and her invaluable contributions and leadership, the organization as we know it would not exist,” declared a proclamation adopted by the county commissioners. “Judy truly understands the meaning of giving back and has made a positive and lasting impact on the community.”
Lindstrom said she was overwhelmed to receive the recognition. “I am truly blessed to be part of the Oakland Literacy ‘family,’” she said. “The dedication and hard work of our tutors, students, staff and board never ceases to amaze me.”
October 25, 2018
October 25, 2018 – Bloomfield Hills, Mich. – Oakland Literacy Council announced that Anne Curzan, a noted linguist and expert in the history of the English language, will deliver the keynote speech at the council’s annual fundraising event on Thursday, November 1, 2018, at the Village Club in Bloomfield Hills.
Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She is the author of several books on the English language and a contributor to the “That’s What They Say” segment on Michigan Radio as well as a language blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Now in its 34th year, the council’s Ex Libris event will also feature a current student who has learned English with help from an Oakland Literacy Council tutor. In addition, the event will honor the contributions of local civic leader Barbara Van Dusen. “Barbara has been a longtime supporter of literacy efforts in general and the Oakland Literacy Council in particular,” said from Judy Lindstrom, president of the council’s board of directors.
The event will begin with cocktails 6:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. at the Village Club, located at 190 East Long Lake, Bloomfield Hills.
October 25, 2018 – Bloomfield Hills, Mich. – Oakland Literacy Council welcomed Joan Allesee, an instructional designer who has served as a volunteer tutor and tutor trainer, as the newest member of the council’s Board of Directors.
“Joan is a high energy individual who brings to the board her firsthand experience as a literacy tutor along with her expertise in developing training programs that incorporate best practices in education and leverage new technology,” said Lisa Machesky, Executive Director.
In 2016, Allesee designed and developed the council’s tutor on-boarding e-Learning course. The online course improves the ease and convenience of becoming a tutor with the council.
Allesee has over 25 years of experience creating learning solutions and facilitating training. She joined the Oakland Literacy Council as a tutor in 2014. She has tutored three students, facilitated the OLC tutor training workshop for two years, and trained other OLC volunteer facilitators. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Michigan and completed her M.S. in instructional design online at Quinnipiac University. In addition, she is a member of the board of directors of the Detroit Chapter of the Association for Talent Development. She works at Innovative Learning Group where she creates learning solutions for clients across the U.S.
Allesee is the third individual to join Oakland Literacy Council’s Board of Directors in 2018. She followed Alicia Stephens, Vice President of Customer Service Communications at Comerica Bank, and Roger Chao, Assistant Professor in Oakland University’s Department of Writing and Rhetoric.
The council’s Board of Directors is comprised of volunteer members who are actively involved in promoting and advancing the council’s mission.
October 2, 2018
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September 20, 2018
September 20, 2018 – Bloomfield Hills, Mich. – Oakland Literacy Council and Oakland County Michigan Works! teamed up this summer to pilot a free, 12-hour class for immigrants seeking employment in the state. The seven residents who completed the program learned about finding, applying, and interviewing for jobs as well as about available job-training resources.
As a result of the program, one participant launched his own repair business. Two others discovered and enrolled in job training courses. Still another clarified her career goals.
“The employment culture in the United States is quite different from many countries around the world,” said Lisa Machesky, Executive Director of Oakland Literacy Council. “The goal of this pilot class was to help adults new to this country negotiate the American world of work so they can support themselves and their families.”
“The course was about teaching people to fish, meaning giving immigrant job seekers the tools they need for job search, and teaching them how to find work in Michigan, while practicing their English conversation skills,” said Lynda Keough, Program Coordinator at Oakland County Michigan Works! in Troy. Michigan Works! provides one-stop service centers throughout the state to connect job seekers with education, training, and employment opportunities.
Oakland Literacy Council tutors Katie Thompson and Irene Sinclair designed the six-week course held during July and August, drawing upon their many years of professional experience teaching English language learners. Michigan Works! provided classroom space at its Troy office along with access to its extensive resources for workforce development.
Throughout the course, the immigrants practiced conversation skills. They learned vocabulary important to the job search, engaged in typical “water cooler” small talk, and took part in mock interviews peppered with open-ended questions such as “Tell me about yourself.”
In addition to brushing up on communication skills, the immigrants completed a typical job application, searched for jobs using Pure Michigan Talent Connect, a state government-run website for job seekers, and explored work-related courses available in the local area.
Oakland Literacy Council intends to repeat the course for English language learners with high intermediate listening levels, Machesky said.
September 12, 2018
September 12, 2018, Pontiac, Mich. – On Thursday, August 30, Commissioner Shelley Goodman Taub introduced a budget amendment to appropriate $10K to be utilized in partnership with the Oakland Literacy Council for an Oakland County Adult Literacy Program. The amendment passed in the Finance Committee and will be included in the recommended 2019 County Budget, which will come before the Board of Commissioners for adoption at their next full board meeting on September 27, 2018 at 9:30 a.m.
“As a former teacher, literacy is an issue that is near and dear to my heart,” said Commissioner Taub. “It is also an issue that many people do not realize impacts so many lives. In Oakland County alone, more than 100,000 adults are estimated to function at the lowest literacy level. The ability to read is critical to a person’s dignity and their ability to support themselves and their families. This funding will go towards helping Oakland County residents in need achieve literacy and improve their lives.”
The Oakland Literacy Council will use the Oakland County funding to support tutoring services for low-literate Oakland County residents, provide writing workshops for pre-GED students, offer student job workshops and much more.
“The ability to communicate well, both in speaking and in writing, and to read and comprehend content, is crucial for adults who desire to move up from the most menial jobs,” said Oakland Literacy Council Executive Director Lisa Machesky. “Through the council’s one-on-one tutoring program and our targeted small-group workshops, we are able to equip adults in Oakland County with the literacy skills they need to prosper in our economy. Commissioner Taub has consistently championed literacy and education and we’re grateful to have the support of the Board of Commissioners as we help our students realize their literacy goals.”
Since 1984, the Oakland Literacy Council has focused on providing free tutoring services for adults in either basic literacy or English as a Second Language (ESL). It is a nonprofit organization and serves hundreds of students throughout Oakland County each year. To learn more about the Oakland Literacy Council and its many programs and services, please visit www.oaklandliteracy.com.
Commissioner Taub is a Republican and represents District 12, which includes the cities of Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills, as well as portions of Bloomfield Township. She can be contacted by phone at 248-420-8870 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the Board of Commissioners is available at www.oakgov.com/boc or by calling 248-858-0100.
September 11, 2018
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July 19, 2018
July 19, 2018 – Thirty-eight residents of Oakland County graduated from Oakland Literacy Council’s free tutoring program this month and are already enjoying opportunities because of their stronger reading, writing, and conversation skills.
Margie and Yeon
One graduate, Yeon, a soft-spoken mother of two from South Korea, passed the six-hour national licensure exam for registered nurses on the first try. She credits her volunteer tutor, Margie, for building her vocabulary and comprehension skills during their weekly one-on-one sessions. “My tutor gave me the confidence to pass the test,” Yeon said.
Like Yeon, another graduate, Norma, a native of Mexico, has begun using her improved English skills to give back to the community. She enthusiastically volunteers in an x-ray lab at Beaumont Hospital-Troy, serving the public and hospital staff. “I want to be a part of society and help others if I can,” Norma says, adding that her tutor, John, “was the right person for me at the right time. All the stars were aligned.”
To graduate from the program, students must pass an assessment demonstrating mastery of real-life competencies, such as understanding job postings, legal notices, safety manuals, and medical instructions.
“It is so much fun to celebrate the gains students have made with their tutors,” said Lisa Machesky, the council’s executive director, after a graduation ceremony for the students, their tutors, and the council’s board of directors. “These relationships change lives: our students are able to navigate the world much better with stronger English language skills, they are able to talk and email their children’s teacher, they are able to communicate with their doctor, and they are able to take on more responsibility in the workplace because of these new skills.”