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DCLC News & Notes
Summer 2022............. In this issue...
  • DCLC Profile: Student Tyhessa Santos Shares Wisdom on Reading
  • DCLC Profile: Trina Smith Brings Expertise and Enthusiasm to DCLC Board
  • DCLC News: Executive Director Tells DCLC's Story in the Community
  • Insights to Share: Benefits of Culturally Responsive Instruction
Tyhessa Santos “Pays It Forward” with Tips on
Taking Reading to a Whole New Level
DCLC Student Tyhessa Santos (shown above) has been making great progress in her adult literacy studies. Recently, she moved up from an Adult Basic Education (ABE) class to a GED-preparation class, both taught by DCLC Instructor Amy Rosenberg. Tyhessa also made a significant gain on her most recent progress test, raising her score to an extremely high secondary education level, essentially to the 12th-grade level.

On June 1, 2022, Tyhessa visited her former ABE class to share some insights about how she made such a big improvement on her standardized progress test. Her remarks were “electrifying” according to Amy, and the class responded well.

Here is what Tyhessa had to say—captured and formatted with help from Amy.

The key is understanding the meanings of the words. You might think you know the meaning of a word, but it might mean something else in this context. Look at the sentence that the word is in, and that can give you a clue as to the meaning. Once I figured out the meaning of a word, I knew which answer choice to pick. When you read books and articles, you will learn new words and their meanings.

Slow down in your reading to see what the sentence means. Don’t rush through reading. If you read too fast, you won’t know anything about what you just read. You won’t be able to answer questions on it.

So slow down. Think about what the words mean and what the writer is saying. Don’t block it out by skipping over it. Reread slowly the part you didn’t understand. You might be able to figure it out.

We can understand more and learn more, but sometimes we cut ourselves off. We can’t be afraid of it. Sometimes we stay in our comfort zone, where we KNOW what we can do. We just read as far as we understand and don’t look deeper.

We may read something that we don’t understand and think, “To heck with that!” instead of opening up our minds to receive more. We lack confidence and think that we can’t understand more. But when we slow down, when we look for the meaning, we may find that we start to understand it.

When you read a lot, you will find yourself better able to understand when you read something new. And you will know more vocabulary words.

The end result when you keep studying and trying can be a high confidence level, a boost in your score, and feeling better mentally and physically. It changes your whole mindset. There are lots of pluses to not being afraid to step out of your comfort zone. You feel more energized and powerful. You know you can do this! You ARE smart. Your brain can take a lot of information. You can process things. It’s gonna blow your mind!

So step out of that comfort zone, that familiar place where you know exactly what you can and cannot do. Step into the unknown, where you will discover even more!

Tyhessa's words of wisdom can help all of us as we pursue lifelong learning and discover our true potential!
Trina N. Smith Brings Health Care Background
and Enthusiasm to DCLC Board
by Sally Sapega

Trina N. Smith (shown above) joined the DCLC Board of Directors in 2021 and is excited to explore this new role in her life.

Born and raised in Chester, PA., Trina was educated in the Chester Upland School District, graduating in 1988. After graduation, she earned a business degree at Chubb Institute (formerly Keystone Business School) while working full time at the Fair Acres Geriatric Center. Years later, during her time working as a Certified Nursing Assistant/Personal Care Tech in Taylor Hospital's Transitional Care Unit, she went back to school, receiving a diploma in Practical Nursing from Chester Upland Practical Nursing Program.

As a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) for more than 20 years, Trina has worked in various areas of nursing in Delaware County. Today she is employed with Team Select Healthcare, specializing in Pediatric/Adolescent Home Healthcare.

Trina is all about helping people. For example, she was a foster parent to her niece and nephew after the passing of her mother, who had custody at the time. “Knowing my purpose for life is to help others and being placed in position by God to do so is its own reward,” she says.

In 2021, she founded Trinity Transitional House Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to serve displaced mothers and their children by providing resources and safe housing opportunities. According to its website, the organization is now “embarking on the opening of their first safe residential facility in Delaware County.” Trina adds, “We are hopeful we will secure a residential property in 2022."

Trina has always gone above and beyond to help her patients and others in her community. Her decision to join the DCLC Board is another example of Trina's emphasis on service. She understands how barriers to knowing English can impact a person’s life, especially in health care. “If people aren’t sure of basic English, they won’t be able to educate themselves with their medical needs,” she says, adding that she is eager to put her medical knowledge to use to help others, “for anything that might arise.”

Trina loves organizing events and sees herself putting those skills to use by working on DCLC's Annual Champions of Adult Literacy fundraising event.

“Being on the board will be a learning experience for me,” she says. “I’m here to help in whatever way I can.”

DCLC is fortunate to have Trina's expertise and enthusiasm in our corner!
Executive Director Pat Gunnin Shares DCLC's Mission, Makes Community Connections
DCLC Executive Director Pat Gunnin (right) is welcomed to the
Swarthmore Rotary Club by its president Heather Saunders (left).
Executive Director Pat Gunnin enjoys sharing the many ways Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) strengthens the community.

Since being named Executive Director in June 2021, Pat has enthusiastically pursued community outreach on behalf of DCLC.

“It's important for people to know that many adults in Delaware County are looking for an opportunity to learn so they can improve their lives,” says Pat. “Some are working toward a high school diploma equivalency (GED), others need help improving their basic skills, and still others are immigrants learning English as a new language,” he adds.

To spread the word about DCLC's free services and amazing adult students, Pat has made connections with various groups in Delaware County.

For example, Pat was elected to join the Swarthmore Rotary Club, a group of local leaders who are interested in DCLC's efforts to improve literacy levels. Literacy has been a longtime emphasis for Rotarians worldwide. Pat was even elected to serve as the Swarthmore Rotary Treasurer for 2022-2023.

Pat also has made multimedia presentationssome on Zoom, some in person—to a variety of local groups, including the Interfaith Council of Southern Delaware County and the Delaware County Association of Township Commissioners.

At these meetings, Pat describes DCLC's valuable free services that help local adults work toward their education and employment goals. If you are interested in having Pat make a presentation to your community group, email him at
Culturally Responsive Adult Education
Help Adult Learners Succeed
A recent ProLiteracy Research Brief explains the importance of culturally responsive adult education, which is described as “teaching that is broadly committed to responding to differences in learners’ race, cultures, and communities.”

One aspect of culturally responsive teaching is embracing students’ lived experience, which may include “culturally significant experiences, life histories, and identities.”

Students' prior knowledge also should be acknowledged and incorporated into culturally responsive instruction. Students often bring "historically and culturally embedded skills, insights, and strategies that they use to navigate the world" into the adult education classroom. Recognizing and building on students' prior knowledge and experiences can enhance both motivation and learning.

DCLC teachers and tutors focused on culturally responsive instruction during a recent two-part workshop entitled "Centering Culture and Racial Equity in Literacy Tutoring." Tutors and teachers explored their own cultural identities and then examined the social, political, and economic forces that impact one's learning and worldview. The workshop was led by Janel McCloskey, Director of the Drexel Writing Center at Drexel University.

DCLC strives to make its instruction and services student-centered and culturally responsive.