Member Stories

Senator Wiley Visits Ms. Jennifer LeMays’ Adult Literacy Class at the Barber National Institute: Senate Wiley visited Ms. Jennifer LeMays’ Adult Basic Education Class at the Barber National Institute on April 30th. He and the students had a round table discussion regarding how the Adult Literacy/ Adult Basic Education Class have influenced their lives. Jessica talked about how she wants the opportunity to attend a class where students are "just like her" and find competitive employment. Josh talked about how the fluency program has helped improve his reading and speech. Carin shared how math class has improved her independent living skills. Marjorie talked about being able to read the newspaper independently and she is now able to use the computer.

Students who were not able to attend class wrote letters to the Senator regarding how Adult Literacy/Adult Basic Education has influenced their lives. Marilyn presented five letters to him.

Senator Wiley also observed students working in their fluency, comprehension and spelling groups.

I had the opportunity to speak with Senator Wiley after his visit to the classroom. He commented when you associate a face to Adult Education, voting for increasing funds for Adult Education to support the stories he heard from the students is the right thing to do.


Judy Martier reports on her legislative visit as part of the PAACE Board Legislative Day: "My time was well spent. I met with Representative Deasy and he was very supportive of adult education and seemed to have a real understanding of the need. He brought up the correlation between lack of education and incarceration and told me that he would support keeping the Governor’s allocation plan for adult education intact. I brought folders with student success stories as well as stories written by students about their life barriers. He genuinely seemed to appreciate the stories and everything I had to say. After we talked for about 45 minutes I left feeling energized and believing he will support adult education."

Kathy Pagano from Barber National Institute writes: My name is Kathy Pagano and I'm the Program Manager for a Special Needs Adult Literacy/Adult Basic Education class at the Barber National Institute in Erie. I've reached out to Senator Wiley's office and developed a relationship with an aide in the office (Carrie Bach). We've had phone conversations and I also forward information via email concerning WIAO. The next logical step for me was to invite Senator Wiley to the classroom and he accepted! We scheduled a visit for April 30. The students are writing letters to him stating how the class has impacted their lives. (These will be the take aways.) 

Lancaster-Lebanon programs held two Adult Education Showcases for their elected officials: Lancaster Lebanon IU 13 and The Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon held two adult education legislative events – one for our elected officials in Lancaster County and one in Lebanon County. These events were designed to provide information about Adult and Family Literacy to our members of the General Assembly. Josh McManness of IU 13 and Jenny Bair of The Literacy Council coordinated the events. Student speakers talked about their experiences in adult education. There was time for networking and conversation. We had an excellent turnout and see this as an ongoing part of relationship building with our elected officials. 

Kathy Bentley from Perry County Literacy Council writes –" I  am very honored and happy to report that Senator Teplitz and his wife have invited my husband and me to a small dinner party at the Governor’s Mansion with Governor Wolf and the First Lady. The Governor is interested in conversations with grassroots organizations and the nonprofit community in small venues that are not political or of a fund raising nature. He is also interested in rural issues, education and opinions about his budget proposal. Senator Teplitz feels that PCLC has a valuable and diverse perspective that will interest Governor and Mrs. Wolf. I am proud to be the voice for PCLC and will take the opportunity to advocate for Adult Education. I wanted you to know that I embrace these new opportunities to advocate and I will share information with you going forward.”

Since writing this, Kathy has dined with Governor Wolf and hosted his visit to Perry County Literacy Council on April 23. Stay tuned for more information about the Governor’s visit.

Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon: Students are writing letters to their Senators and Representatives and they are hearing back from. Our teachers are using the lesson plan developed by Mary Leitao of Adult Literacy Action– Penn State Beaver to teach the students about how state government works, how to find out who represents them in Harrisburg and how their voice matters. 

Finally, an Exciting Time for Advocacy, Alex Dow, Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council and PAACE Treasurer: Having participated in various advocacy activities over the last decade, I can summarize them as usually reactive. And reactive specifically to negative threats – a proposed cut or series of cuts, bureaucratic consolidation, or some onerous new proposal we need to rally against. When I heard Governor Wolf’s proposed increase for adult and family literacy in his inaugural budget, I took a giant sigh of relief, “finally, good news.” And finally, a chance to rejoice in good news, catch our breath, and relax for one budget cycle. Thankfully, at the PAACE conference, Art Ellison ensured that wouldn’t happen. Art recommended we needed to get to work immediately in support of the potentially historic 38% state increase for our field. “OK, great first step,” he acknowledged, “but you need to get a letter writing campaign started soon, next week.” Art advised us to reach the legislature with student letters in support of this increase. Our staff at GPLC also rallied around Art’s proposal and began prompting our students to write letters. In the month of April we were able to collect 276 letters and distribute to 24 legislators in Allegheny County. Thankfully, PAACE’s leadership won’t let us rest either. Meetings by PAACE Board Members were set up for May at the Capitol in Harrisburg. I was able to meet with two offices from our county to update about our budget and in support of the proposed increase. Thankfully, we have other board members and colleagues in our field who are doing the same. We have had initial support from the Governor, and a chance to ensure our students receive more resources. But we also have a challenging funding climate, and some ongoing negotiations to the proposed budget. It’s up to all of us to work to ensure that this budget proposal for our field comes to fruition. Let’s keep that good news coming!