Charley’s World – Episode Eleven

Charley was very pleased with the progress of his next round of readers. Those challenged by math were also improving. Finding the children’s excitement button had made a difference. Charley should have been excited, but he began to realize something about himself. He needed to be grounded by being where the action was. He felt proud of what he had begun but he needed to be engaged by working directly with the children. He wasn’t an administrator.

Again, Natty rescued him from his malaise. She came to him with a concern about her mother. She had recently lost her job and was struggling to find another one. Charley had gotten to know Nellie well since he began working with Natty. He admired her common sense approach to life, especially how she managed the challenge of being a single mom.

Charley asked Sandra if the foundation could support hiring Nellie. Approval was quickly granted since Charley had been very resourceful in getting the Learning Center established.

Nellie quickly organized the center and freed up Charley to begin to explore other opportunities to support the learning needs of the community. What Charley didn’t expect was that Nellie would give him the inspiration for the next learning venture.

“You know I struggled with my reading when we first met. Those books you gave me really helped. I’ve tried to pass them on to my friends, but I discovered that many of them could barely read. Could we do some reading classes for them?”

Charley was excited about the opportunity, but then Nellie said, “I don’t know how to get them to participate. They are very proud and don’t want to admit they can’t read.”

After considerable discussion, Charley and Nellie developed an idea of a program where the women could come together each week for a series of activities. Every activity would have a purpose and an outcome, but it would also involve reading skill development.

The women probably knew that Charley was helping them become better readers, but the purposeful activity they were involved in made this a prideful event each week of their lives.

Charley had brought his wife’s books to the center and placed them in their activity room. For him the success of the program was when the women started asking if they could borrow a book. It didn’t take long for the women to have, in effect, their own reading circle.

As Nellie and Charley were having lunch one day, Nellie asked a question that Charley had been thinking about also, “Where do we go from here?”

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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglas

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