Volunteers are the “heart” of everything Literacy Delaware does. The organization recently recognized two of their volunteers for their outstanding contributions this past year.
When COVID-19 hit, all programming needed to move online as in-person instruction was no longer feasible, yet the organization had never offered virtual instruction. It was at this time that volunteer tutor Richard Carver stepped up to help. The monumental undertaking of pivoting the entire operation to online learning could not have occurred without the expertise of volunteer tutor and now “resident” IT guru Richard Carver. Richard was, and continues to be, instrumental to Literacy Delaware’s successful pivot to and ensuing success of online instruction. Rich conducted numerous workshops on how to use remote platforms and shared tutoring and remote teaching ideas to inform and engage tutors. He developed a tutor resource intranet which contains links to helpful websites with resources for online teaching. He continues to conduct mentoring sessions for new volunteers during tutor training. He is always available for personalized one-to one tech sessions to assist tutors, learners and staff as needed. “We could not have moved as quickly or as smoothly to online services if it had not been for Rich.” states Literacy Director Cynthia Shermeyer. “He is so deserving of the Loper Award.”
Janet Neville Loper was a member of what was then Literacy Volunteers of America Wilmington Library Affiliate’s initial volunteer tutor training class in 1983. In addition to tutoring, Janet also helped with clerical duties in the office for many years. Her husband Edward Loper Sr. donated signed prints of his artwork for prizes at fundraising events. The Janet Neville Loper and Edward Loper Sr. Meritorious Service Award was established in 2008 and is given annually to a volunteer who exemplifies the Loper’s involvement with and financial support of Literacy Delaware.
The Charles and Rose H. Arsht Tutor Excellence Award was established in 2017 in memory of the Arshts, long-time residents of Wilmington. The Tutor Excellence Award is given to a volunteer tutor who goes above and beyond in their work tutoring with Literacy Delaware. The recipient’s efforts mirror the quality instruction we strive to provide.
“It is always difficult to choose just one volunteer tutor for this award”. quotes Shermeyer, “however this year Dianne Nichols was an obvious choice for her many contributions.” A retired reading specialist, Dianne leverages her training and unique skills to reach adults “the schools didn’t reach.” In addition to tutoring her own four learners (each of whom have shown significant growth), Dianne conducts workshops for other tutors on foundational reading skills and stepped up to manage IXL, an online reading skills program newly adopted by the organization which tutors can opt to use to give their learners extra practice. At the onset of the pandemic, Dianne didn’t miss a beat, delivering materials to her learners so that they could continue learning even if only by telephone.
“Without help from these two outstanding tutors, it is unlikely that our organization would have navigated the pandemic as well as we did. Most importantly, our learners were able to continue their studies, helping to better their lives and the lives of their families” notes Shermeyer.
Believing that literacy is the great equalizer, Literacy Delaware advances literacy through training, tutoring, English language acquisition and advocacy for all Delawareans. For 38 years Literacy Delaware has trained volunteers to tutor adults with low literacy or English language skills. For more information on Literacy Delaware’s services, visit www.literacydelaware.org or call 302.658.5624.