Written by News Bulletin News Sources
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 00:00
Dominican Sister Jane Ann Beckman helps students prepare for the U.S. citizenship test in a class at the Dominican Literacy Center in Aurora. The center, which also provides free personalized tutoring in reading, writing and speaking English, is marking its 20th anniversary. News Bulletin staff photo.
Center helps immigrants read, write, become citizens
Aurora’s Dominican Literacy Center, a nonprofit that teaches local immigrant women to read, write and speak English, is kicking off plans this month to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Since its inception, the DLC has tutored about 2,500 women in English.
Sister Kathleen Ryan, center founder and director of the school at 260 Vermont Ave., says “The center’s 20th year of providing free, personalized, one-on-one tutoring of immigrant women in English as a second language will be celebrated in a variety of ways.
"We’re calling this 20th year our ‘Year of Service’," she said.
Activities will include free food distribution to the center’s 150 students, filling food packets for hungry people worldwide and a neighborhood walk.
The center’s initial anniversary event, she said, will be a visit to the center in September by a mobile food pantry from the Northern Illinois Food Bank. The Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry is a partner in the visit.
Other anniversary events scheduled are a January food packaging session by center students, tutors and their families at Feed My Starving Children in Aurora and a three-mile walk for International Women’s Day on March 8. The public is invited to the January and March events.
Since its inception, the DLC has tutored about 2,500 women in English says Sister Kathleen.
The center began a separate program in 1998 in which volunteers taught immigrants to prepare for the U.S. citizenship test. Hundreds have obtained citizenship as a result.
“(It) all started with Charles Kuralt, CBS News’ ‘Sunday Morning’ host. In a 1993 segment, he profiled two Sisters of Mercy in Connecticut who taught English to immigrants.”
The light bulb went on in Sister Kathleen’s head. Why not do this in Aurora?
She pursued the idea with approval from the Springfield.-based Dominican Sisters leadership team and consulted with local church groups and social-work agencies.
On Sept. 1, 1993, the Aurora center was born.
Sister Kathleen began ESL classes with students gathered around a card table at St. Nicholas Church.
“I felt there was a great need for an English as a Second Language tutoring center in Aurora," she recalled. “Immigrant women on the east side were the most under-served population in Aurora.”
In 1994, the center moved to the Vermont Street location, rented from adjacent St. Therese Church.
Later, Dominican Sisters Ann Clennon and Ann Beckman joined Ryan, taking on tutoring training and citizenship responsibilities. Four part-time workers assist with registration, administration and a newsletter.
A 12-member advisory board provides guidance and support for center initiatives. Sugar Grove resident Amy Manion, an information services librarian at Aurora University, is seven-year board president.
The center’s mission is to provide opportunities for women (17 and older) to receive free, one-on-one tutoring in reading, writing and speaking English.
Trained volunteers provide tutoring in a neighborhood setting.
Sister Kathleen said, “The DLC believes in empowerment through education, and in the dignity of each individual person.”
From September to June, tutoring sessions meet weekly in 90-minute periods during the day and evening. The curriculum of English-only instruction is customized for each student’s level.
Students may receive tutoring for three years. The same tutor will work with a student during that time.
Conversation classes are open to current students and graduates.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 14:22