Fowler named new chair­per­son for New­ton County Reads

The Covington News - - Local - LISA DOR­WARD Spe­cial to The News

New­ton County Reads, a non­profit, community ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tion, has taught adults in New­ton County to read since 2000. Their free classes in ba­sic read­ing skills and GED prepa­ra­tion are con­ducted through small group in­struc­tion and oneon-one tu­tor­ing at six lo­ca­tions throughout the county, pro­vid­ing pro­gram ac­cess to New­ton County res­i­dents in their own neigh­bor­hoods.

Kathy Fowler, re­tired from Ge­or­gia Pied­mont Tech­ni­cal Col­lege, is a res­i­dent of Cov­ing­ton and has a mas­ter’s de­gree in adult ed­u­ca­tion. She re­places long-time chair­man Greg Shy, who was in­stru­men­tal in the found­ing of NCR. Shy will continue his sup­port of the or­ga­ni­za­tion as a board mem­ber. “These past 12 years have been the most re­ward­ing of my life,” Shy said. “NCR is one of the most suc­cess­ful non­prof­its in the county. It has touched so many lives.”

NCR was founded with the goal of mak­ing New­ton County a Cer­ti­fied Lit­er­ate Community. “Lit­er­acy equals eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment,” Fowler said. “The abil­ity to read and learn equals the abil­ity to earn.” Ac­cord­ing to the North­east Ge­or­gia State of the Work­force Re­port, 90 per­cent of NE Ge­or­gia em­ploy­ers re­port a dif­fi­culty in ob­tain­ing qual­i­fied em­ploy­ees.

“Lit­er­acy is not only im­por­tant to ev­ery in­di­vid­ual’s qual­ity of life, it is an im­por­tant fac­tor in the re­cruit­ment of re­tail busi­nesses to the community,” Fowler said. “Many busi­nesses re­search lit­er­acy rates in com­mu­ni­ties when choos­ing their lo­ca­tions.” The Work­force Re­port also shows that Ge­or­gia res­i­dents with­out a high school diploma earn an av­er­age of $7,367 less per year than those with a high school diploma. “Com­pa­nies want to put their stores where peo­ple have the salaries to pur­chase their goods,” Fowler said.

When NCR was founded, 25.3 per­cent of adults over the age of 25 in New­ton County did not have a GED or high school diploma; 23 per­cent of New­ton County res­i­dents over the age of 16 who were not in school could not read a news­pa­per or add the costs of a store pur­chase.

“We’ve come a long way with great sup­port from the community,” Fowler said. The 2010 Cen­sus shows that the per­cent­age of adults in New­ton County with­out a GED or high school diploma has dropped to 14 per­cent, which is be­low the na­tional av­er­age of 16.8 per­cent. The per­cent­age of New­ton County res­i­dents with less than a ninth grade ed­u­ca­tion is 4.7 per­cent, be­low the na­tional av­er­age of 6.1 per­cent.

How­ever, there is still a great deal of work to be done and new chal­lenges are on the hori­zon. The Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion re­cently an­nounced that the 2011 high school dropout rate in New­ton County was 15 per­cent, al­most dou­ble the na­tional rate of 7.4 per­cent re­ported by the U.S. Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion.

The eco­nomic down­turn has made it dif­fi­cult for non­prof­its in re­cent years and NCR is no ex­cep­tion. Grants and do­na­tions are the only sources of fund­ing for NCR.

Its all-vol­un­teer board of di­rec­tors are call­ing on the community for help. “Now is the time for our community to recom­mit its sup­port to en­sure that the good work be­ing done can continue,” Fowler said.

She also said the group is es­pe­cially in need of English as a Sec­ond Lan­guage vol­un­teers.

All NCR teach­ers and tu­tors are non-paid vol­un­teers. Class­room space at six lo­ca­tions throughout the county is pro­vided at no cost to NCR by Allen Memo­rial United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church, the Good Shep­herd Church, the Hous­ing Author­ity of Cov­ing­ton, Nel­son Heights Community Cen­ter and the Gar­den Shel­ter, but funds are needed for books, sup­plies, com­put­ers and updated com­puter soft­ware for pro­grams to continue.

Due to the large num­ber of new en­rollees, ad­di­tional vol­un­teers are also needed for teach­ing and men­tor­ing students.

Those in­ter­ested in vol­un­teer­ing may call the NCR of­fice at (678) 342-7943.

Gabriel Khouli /The Cov­ing­ton News

Kathy Fowler is the new­est chair­per­son for New­ton County Reads or­ga­ni­za­tion. She is hold­ing a scrab­ble game to rep­re­sent the scrab­ble tour­na­ment the group holds ev­ery year to pro­mote lit­er­acy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.