A group of students hops out of a UMBC Shriver Center van one evening, animatedly talking about the adults they have tutored. These students have just come back from the Learning Bank, a center where adults can receive tutoring in reading, writing, and math in order to get their GEDs. Every other spring, this service learning opportunity is offered with English 386: Adult Literacy Tutoring taught by Lucille McCarthy. English 386 is currently the only service learning class offered within the English Department. The class is made up of two parts: a lecture given each week by Dr. McCarthy and two hours of individual service, also done weekly, at the Learning Bank. Dr. McCarthy particularly likes teaching this class, explaining that “it’s an eye-opener that there are people out there who struggle with literacy.” As students in a university, sometimes this is easy to forget.
Work at the Learning Bank is always interactive and hands-on, from administering tests to leading students in drills and exercises. The classes range from adults who are just beginning to learn how to read and write, to adults who are about to sit for their GED test. Each English 386 student is assigned to a different class, and comes away with a unique experience. In the classroom portion taught by Dr. McCarthy, the students are asked to write about their experiences and thoughts about literacy. “It’s interesting to see what they learn and what the issues are in regards to literacy,” Dr. McCarthy says. She also likes to watch and learn about literacy and examine the learning process of others. So if you’re looking for a rewarding, unique service opportunity at UMBC, be sure to check out English 386 with Dr. McCarthy!
-- Laura LeFavor, Class of 2012