Bro. Carlos Lee, 32, K.C. C.H. (pictured far right), President of the Dyslexia Committee of the Dothan, Alabama, Scottish Rite, assisted the organization of an adult reading program at First United Methodist Church.
What would an avid sportsman and hunter have in common with a teenage equestrian that would compel them to meet every Tuesday night for a period of two years? Surprisingly, the common bond for these two, along with eight others, was the desire to read.
Just now finishing a 160-hour program that began in November of 1994, six of the original team of ten recently celebrated the completion of a reading program at First United Methodist Church (UMC).
The material for the course grew out of a dyslexia reading program developed by Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC), Dallas. First UMC provided the meeting place and the volunteer instructors, Vicky Fairris and Sha'nah Martin (pictured above, l. & r. standing). Through this cooperative plan, people from diverse backgrounds who wanted to improve their reading skills were able to obtain training that would have been difficult to receive otherwise.
Although coming from different backgrounds, the group came to form close friendships. One woman drove from Eufaula each week. After missing some weeks, she would take lessons home to catch up. Viec Chambers, a maintenance man from Sears, missed just a few nights and worked hard to keep up, while his friend, Richard Walker, improved his writing skills dramatically.
The avid sportsman? Ed Shin even attended during deer season, while Anna Carnes, the teenage equestrian, was driven straight from horse riding to class by her mom. William Irwin, an employee of Ward Bell Communications, missed few meetings since he expressed a desire to go into the ministry. The ones he did miss were to watch his daughter play in softball tournaments.
The graduates enthusiastically endorsed the reading program. "I feel like it's a great thing," said Irwin. "If other people need help in reading and spelling, they should take it, too. It made a big difference for me. I couldn't write very well in cursive, and now I can write very well in cursive. It helped with a lot of other stuff, too, like spelling."
Walker agreed. "When I went there, I couldn't read a book and could barely write my name," he said. "Now I can write just as good as anyone else can, and I can read most of the words. I enjoyed the class, and it helped me a lot. My family is proud of it, too. That is a good program."
Anna is no longer hesitant about reading a Bible verse out loud in her Bible class. "The reading class helped me be bold and read out loud in front of people -- I used to pass that up. Now I step out and just say the words. I have nice friends in the class, it's just really good."
Shin said the class has made reading a whole lot easier for him. "It makes reading more fun. Instead of being a fight, it's more entertaining." His new skills make it easier to do paperwork at work and read magazines at home -- and comprehend what he reads. "It's put me at a point where I can do it now, but now I've got to continue reading."
"The course was a lot of hard work," he continued. "As long as you go, it will benefit you. It helped everybody in the class that hung with it. It's a great course."
According to Mrs. Fairrus and Mrs. Martin, all the students were enthusiastic, eager, and had a desire to learn. Mrs. Martin said the class has taught her the desire for learning is more important than ability.
While plans are being made to start another class after the first of the year, the Scottish Rite material is currently being utilized by the Adult Education Department at Wallace College. Dr. Laurel Young found out about the reading program, which is presented via video. After conferring with Mrs. Martin and Brother Carlos Lee, 32, K.C. C.H., President of the Dyslexia Committee of the Dothan Scottish Rite, she began implementation of the reading program through the GED courses.
The above article is reprinted from the "Community Focus" section of The Dothan [Alabama] Progress, September 18, 1996.