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Learner story archives

September 22, 1997

The story this week comes to us from Newfoundland. The author, Marvin Payne, is from Georges Brook, Newfoundland. Georges Brook is a small rural community and is approximately 15 km from Clarenville. Marvin was born in St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador. He is 28 years old, single and has one sister. He is currently working with an individual who has a developmental disability. Marvin is also attending the Discovery Centre for Adult Basic Education in Clarenville.

Marvin Payne Story

by Marvin Payne

I went to school in George's Book up to grade three. Up until that time, I did not have allot of difficulty with my reading and writing. I moved to the Seventh Day Adventist School in Lethbridge to take grade four. At grade four, I started to have some problems. My mother and father had very little education and they could not help me at home. There were many students in the one classroom and with one teacher, I could not get the help I needed. There was no extra help at home, so this made it very hard for me to keep up with my reading and writing.

It was recommended that I attend school in Shoal Harbour because I could not seem to get ahead at the school in Lethbridge. At the school in Shoal Harbour, I was put in a special education program. This program was helping to a point, but then every year I seemed to be learning the same things over and over. I was not going anywhere with my learning. By this time, I was old enough to go to the high school in Clarenville and I still only had a very low reading and writing level. Again, it was the same thing at the high school. I was in a special needs program and not learning anything new, so that made me decide to quite school.

When I quit school, I was lucky to get a job at the hospital, especially with very little education. For the winter of that year, I was doing snow clearing for the hospital, but this was only short-term work. I then went to the Department of Social Services interested in finding a job. Unfortunately, they did not have any job opportunities for me, but they did register me in a Plaster and Painting Course at the local college. The course was really difficult because I could not take notes and everything that was discussed in class, I had to try to remember because I could not write well. Tests were done orally, so that really helped. I did good getting 70 and 80 percents. My instructor referred me to a lady by the name of Judy Chan. Judy assisted individuals who had problems with their reading and writing through the college. Judy helped me to learn new things like looking up names in the telephone book. Judy also put my classes on tapes so I could listen to them at home. This was a big help and I completed the course.

Now in my twenties, I decided to try night school at the college. I attended the Adult Basic Education Program for around five months. Due to the winter coming on and no transportation, I had to give up going to school. Two years later, I went back to the ABE Program again and got a nice ways through, but the program was offered through Manpower and funding was cut. Around two to three weeks after, I contacted the Department of Social Services and I got a job at the Random North Development Association for four months doing maintenance work.

Dave Watson, a volunteer tutor then started to tutor me with my reading and writing. Dave and I worked together for around five or six months. I went back to the Manpower again and they referred me to the Ability Employment Corporation. From there I was referred to the Discovery Centre for Adult Basic Education in Clarenville. I am now doing my ABE there and I am in Level Two. I find the instructors really good and helpful.

From my experiences, I have learned to appreciate it how difficult it is for someone who cannot read or write. I took part in a Laubach Tutor Training Program this past fall (1997) and now I am a trained Laubach Tutor and I can help someone else who has low reading and writing skills. I have also been asked by the Literacy Research Office to sit on an Advisory Group and help with research that will link people with low reading and writing to training and then possible job opportunities.

I know I still have a long way to go, but I know I can do it!

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