Two Parts Math & Three Parts Heart= Nancy Etheredge, a math teaching legend.

Almost every adult that walks in the door of Ardmore Family Literacy announces they are terrible at math.  I always think to myself, you and me both!  I actually get anxiety listening to them working in class sometimes.  It brings up all kinds of memories of high school inadequacy.

Enter Nancy Etheredge, math teacher extraordinaire.  Nancy started teaching for us in 2016.  She is a retired high school math teacher who knows she has more to offer than putting down her chalk and walking away from educating.  She just needed more time to travel and enjoy her family life.  We thank our lucky stars that she chose Ardmore Family Literacy with which to join forces and empower adults to complete their GED.

Each Thursday & Friday thru the school year she rolls into the classroom smiling and inquiring how each student is doing. Some of our students are young mothers and they love to ask her advice on childrearing.  She has a soft but no-nonsense style that disarms those feeling apprehensive and begins to build them up all at once.

Recognizing that students respond and learn in different manners, Ms. Etheredge can spot the “deer in headlights look”, only to assure them to hold on, we will find YOUR way to get this concept. Minutes later, it’s like a lightbulb actually comes on and a large smile of accomplishment lands on the once-weary students face.  She reminded one, fraction confused student just today that there are many different ways to get to Wal Mart.  We will find out your way to get you understanding this problem.

For those adults who think they could never learn the concepts needed to pass their high school equivalency, the fears soon melt away. Replaced with a new zest and curiosity for what other ways could I improve myself or education?  A domino effect ensues and the results are new door’s opening for our students.  It’s the effect we are wanting for sure!

Teachers like Nancy Etheredge don’t come along every day. I feel like somewhere there is a former employer secretly plotting my demise for hiring her and taking away their chance to have this responsible, caring and unique math mind on staff. I am staying alert. 😉

A requirement of being involved in an adult basic education program is that one must have a genuine interest in the adult students. What they lack in education level they always make up in intuitiveness. They can spot a fraud quickly.  Nancy Etheredge is as genuine as they come. Changing lives two days a week and fitting in world travel the other five.  A win for her, AFL students and the future of Ardmore’s workforce!

 

Doing Whatever It Takes

Today, as I do Monday in my office I hear Mrs. Adisha Chapman go thru her subjects of the day.  First, there was Language, then Social Studies and now the earth’s crust is being scrutinized.  The students respond so well to her genuine care and quick wit.

In only her second year as a teacher, Adisha Chapman is no stranger to our organization.  In fact, it would be fair to say we owe much of our success to her interest in giving a hand up to these adults and their children.

Several years ago when the national Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy came calling in Ardmore, looking for those interested in helping improve the poor literacy skills, Adisha was among the first to sign on.  She was invited to assemble with other interested community members and form a board to get this thing off and running.  Her interest soon turned into leadership and she actually became the main driver behind what was to be called the Ardmore Barbara Bush Literacy Corp.

For four years Adisha served as the board president, head errand runner, HR manager, non-profit facilitator and financial assessor.  With the support of her fellow board of directors, she found staff, handled the set up of the 501c-3 and anything that was needed.   This got the program up and running successfully.

It was in the middle of year four when Adisha, still the board president got the call from me, the Executive Director.  Our language teacher had resigned three days into the new school year.  I was scrambling to find someone when she offered herself up to pitch in until we acquired someone.  She was more than qualified and I was relieved.  Again, doing whatever it took to see this program succeed.

After two weeks of searching for a replacement and also seeing her way with the students, I began to wish she would consider staying.  They were responding to her and she to them.  It seemed like a great fit.  She soon joined us as the Language, Social Studies and Science teacher and has been here since.

Some would say that what she does is not glamorous.  It certainly does not have huge financial perks but with Mrs. Chapman, you could never tell.  She enters her classroom each day with a genuine smile, a radar for nonsense and a hand up for anyone wanting it.  It would take me all week to relate the instances in which she has awed me with the opening of her heart to our students.  She can handle whatever comes at her with grace and I have no doubt that she is a great example for everyone who darkens our door.

I take great pride in having assembled a group as remarkable as what we have here at AFL.  All of our staff gives of themselves in a way that many of our students are not used to.  It leads to helping our students understand how valued they are and adds a whole group of cheerleaders to their sideline.  Mrs. Chapman is a large part of that and our adults adore her for it.

A big thank you to Mrs. Chapman for doing whatever it takes to see us thru, from the very beginning of this brave venture as Ardmore Barbara Bush Literacy Corp to our present life as Ardmore Family Literacy.  We look forward to many more successes together thru the years, or until she teaches her way out of a job!  #adultliteracygoals

Leslie Kutz

Executive Director, Ardmore Family Literacy

Borrowing Others Belief

 

We have no shortage of remarkable comeback stories via our Ardmore Family Literacy students.  Each and everyone walks through our doors with the possibility of setting the world on fire.  I’d like however to focus a little on Tammy in this article, one of our latest GED graduates.
Tammy walked in our doors right at one year ago this month.  She was a single mother of three who’d just connected with some housing assistance thru DHS.  Up until then she and her three kiddos had been living in shelters for more than a year.  She was set up to get an apartment and directed our way by her DHS caseworker.
Having been in and fled a bad marital situation left Tammy lacking in confidence.  She started the class here being very skeptical of her own abilities but willing to work since she believed the only way for a better life for her and her children was thru her getting more education.  She buckled down, attended class each day the doors opened and by June had passed three of the four tests required to attain her GED.  Math appeared to be the only real challenge for her so while she worked a job on our summer break, she also kept her skills sharp and came to class this fall intent on checking that pesky math test off her to-do list.  On December 13, 2017, she did just that at the testing site in Durant.  Tammy, the four of students who tested that day and I jumped around with excitement.
As Tammy and I sat across from each other the next morning and talked about her future plans it was hard not to reflect on the first day she walked in my office.  Scared and unsure of herself she relied solely on our belief in her until she was able to develop a belief system of her own.  By Dec 13th she’d acquired her own belief in herself and feels empowered to keep working towards the goal of providing the most she can for her young children.  We both now feel her unstoppable in her quest.
Tammy isn’t unlike many of our students who missed something while they were school age.  For some it was a lack of a consistent home life, others it was falling behind early on in reading and math and some just didn’t have quality school options.  The fact that they have a chance to come here and redeem themselves is what makes every day a good day here at AFL.
Thanks to Tammy for proving what we know to be true,  there is a remarkable comeback in all of us.  Sometimes we just need to borrow others belief while we gain some of our own.

Behind the Scenes Dream Givers

Like most great things in the world, it takes more than one person to make it happen.  First, it takes the person with a great idea.  Then there are the obvious players, the actual developer,  the facilitator, the beneficiary and then all the millions of other variables that have to come together that no one thinks about but that ensure optimal fulfillment.  Often those folks come from where you least expect it.  In Ardmore Family Literacy’s case, one of those “variables” is Dr. Rick Baggett.

Dr. Baggett was until this past Sunday the pastor of The First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore.  He gave the last sermon of his career on a beautiful July day amongst a crowd of his parishioners.   Many of whom sat in those seats each week of his tenure.  Over the years he has counseled and enlightened each of them on the teachings of the good book and likely told them many a corny joke.

However, his ministering to us at AFL was different.  His role initially was a savior of sorts.  We were renting a room for our classes at another location when Dr. Rick came to me to learn more about the work we were doing for adults.  The room we were renting was at one time a nice venue but after years of inattention it was drafty, run-down and the air temperature was unpredictable.  There were many other issues too numerous to mention.

He was excited to see how we gave adults a handout & up towards increased literacy.  He loved the idea of serving those that he didn’t often see in the pews of FPCA.  He knew improving one’s educational levels led to bigger things for the families of our community.  He saw the frustration in my eyes because the heat was out in our drafty classroom the cold winter day he had chosen to visit.  It was not only uncomfortable for the students but sent a message that as usual, these vulnerable adults were an after thought.  Something many of those who’ve misstepped in life get really used to.

We talked about the possibility of relocating to an unused building behind the church where he pastored.  One where we could spread out a little.  Have a nursery for our student’s young children and maybe even an office to store important files of our program.

Of course, I was all for it and he left with the promise of seeing what he could get done.  He would work to sell the idea to his church elders.   He delivered on that promise in a big way!

Months later we moved into a newly renovated space behind the protective aura of the main sanctuary.  It possessed the fresh smell of paint, newly laid carpet and an energy that screamed: “dreams will come true here”.  A place where those attending felt valued.

To this day, now two years later we hold our classes here.  We will begin our third class year here in September.   So far we’ve enjoyed not only the building but the knowing that Dr. Rick Baggett was right around the corner and ready to help in any way he could.  Over the past two years, he has been one of our biggest cheerleaders.  He’s updated the church elders on our successes and insured their support thru that.  He’s answered my call when the place was flooding and when shady characters were lurking.  Each time rushing down to make sure all was ok.   His ministry has reached many folks who will never sit in the pews at FPCA but who have felt valued because he saw a way to assist and made a move.  His taking the time to put down the fork to his everyday full plate and seeing what else he could affect made the difference in more lives than likely belong to the church where he served.

I’m known to say often these days that folks need to just turn off their tv sets or computers and find a way, anyway, big or small to engage with those in their communities.  It’s the only way any progress will be made.  No Facebook post or biased news report is going to make better the lives of your fellow humans.  I encourage you to be that variable that helps the wheels of the good life turn like Dr. Rick has done.  Oh and learn some corny jokes, they come in handy!

Best wishes to Dr. Rick & Joyce in their retirement.  We hope you ride your bike by and see us once in a while!  You’ll always be a cog in the wheel of our success!

Leslie Kutz

Executive Director at Ardmore Family Literacy

 

 

 

 

Student Testimonial

ARDMORE FAMILY LITERACY MEANS SUCCESS!!

 

 Maintaining your education, and succeeding in life, is the most important thing you can do. I was a high school drop-out, and never gave it a thought until I grew up, that I couldn’t achieve any goals I had set for myself. I called Ardmore Family Literacy (AFL), and acquired some information, funny part is, it was not even for me. After learning that I could take part as well, I was excited. I could finally reach a milestone, that when I was a teenager, I thought was not a crucial aspect of life. The day classes started, I was nervous but, more so ready to learn. There’s two teachers, who actually work with you, and teach, versus just handing you a book.

     The classes are fun, and both Mrs. Chapman and Ms. Etheredge, make everything easy to understand, and easy to remember. Mrs. Leslie Kutz, is the director of Ardmore Family Literacy, and she will do whatever it takes, to help someone who needs their G.E.D. I graduated from AFL on November 14, 2016, and I am currently in college, with a 4.0 GPA. Ardmore Family Literacy has truly become family, even now, they continue to encourage, support, and help me with school work. Ardmore Family Literacy, not only challenged me but, was there for me every step of the way, even when I failed.

     Ardmore Family Literacy, will help you on your journey to success. I encourage, anyone and everyone, who does not have their G.E.D., or high school diploma to join Ardmore Family Literacy. They helped me succeed, they will help you too. I also encourage, everyone to donate that can. It is places like Ardmore Family Literacy, that is solely operated on donations. In order to help people, like me, they need your donations. Call Leslie and get involved you will not regret it. I am only one success though, there has been many others.  

-Brittany W.

Graduate November, 2016