Friday, December 16, 2011

On the Air with Jeff Collins

Readers of this blog might think that I live a life of total leisure since my posts talk about biking and going to the theater and cooking classes and the like. While I do find time to have a lot of fun, I actually work about 20 hours a week in the field of adult literacy at the Adult Learning Center in Port Charlotte. This morning I had the pleasure of taping a show for Southwest Florida Focus with host Jeff Collins and Mike Reilly, Head of Community Relations for Adult Education (and leader of the BoogieMen, Charlotte County's favorite band) that will air at 8:00 on Sunday morning on 1580 a.m. and the other local Clear Channel Radio stations.

Having never done a radio show before, I was a bit nervous going into the taping. Collins is a real pro, though, and immediately put me at ease as we settled into our chairs and did a sound check on our mics. Once we got started, it was easy and fun for Mike and me to talk about the programs that we offer at the Center. We shared that the functional illiteracy rate in Charlotte County is approximately 18%. (You might be surprised to know that this is consistent with the national average, meaning that almost one out of every five adults in our country does not have adequate literacy skills.) We talked about the negative impact the recently imposed tuition requirement has had on adult ed programs across the state, resulting in a 40% decline in enrollment. We talked about how we match volunteer tutors with students to supplement their studies at the Center and how our volunteers get as much out of the experience as our students do. And, of course, we talked about our students, how dedicated they are, and how inspiring it is to see them work to achieve their educational goals.

The 30 minute taping flew by, and at times I forgot that there was a big mic in front of me as I tried to remember if I had covered everything on my list. Did I mention the Chocolate Festival that we are hosting in February to raise money for our tuition hardship assistance fund? Did we mention that we have an online program for adult learners who can't get to the Center during our hours of operation? (Yes, on both counts!) I am sure that I made a few missteps along the way (and that they'll stick out to me like a sore thumb when I listen to the show on Sunday) but overall it was a fun experience. And, of course, I'm grateful that we had the opportunity to get the word out about the work that we are doing at the Center. Thanks to Jeff Collins and Clear Channel Radio for helping us raise awareness about adult illiteracy in our community.

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