December 23, 2002
The following story was written by Stephen Leyte, from Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador. Stephen is originally from Fogo Island, but came to the Employment Preparation Centre in Corner Brook for upgrading. He loves to carve wood, such as statues, out of local material. Stephen also enjoys hunting and fishing.
I came from a family that never got their grade 12 until they realized that they needed at least grade 12 to get a good job. Education wasn't very important as far as my parents were concerned, so I didn't value it much either until I tried to get along in the world without it.
When I finished grade 8, I went to work at odd jobs for a couple of years and then I got laid off. When I turned 18 years old I went to St John's to look for work. I got a job making gill nets and unloading boats. I lived on the Southern Shore for two years making gill nets. When I got laid off this time, I drew my unemployment for a while. I soon realized that I was not going to get far without an education so I decided to go back to school and get my grade 12. I went to the unemployment office on Fogo Island and told Barb at H.R.D.C what I wanted to do. She said she would try to get me into school. and asked me if I would go to school in Corner Brook. And that's how I got here.
Since I began school I have completed 3 reading levels and I am now working on Challenger 4. I am also learning a lot about my country, my province, and other places. I am doing some math and improving my computer skills. My instructor says I have some good ideas and I'm getting better at putting them down on paper. It's been a rough year for me. Starting school, being sick and having to go for surgery, and getting used to a new place has been really hard. But with lots of help and encouragement from friends and family, and lots of hard work on my part, I hung in there. Today things are looking more positive. I feel better about myself and my future.
[This story was taken with permission, from A Book of Changes, which was was intended for display at Literacy Action Day, October 25th, 2001. Learners' Advisory Network (LAN) members felt that true stories from learners would make literacy 'come alive' for the politicians who read them.]