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Maria Gonzalez

My Tale of Literacy

“On the day my 10-year-old son Manuel asked for help with his homework, I tried but knew that I didn’t understand his work. Of course, the next day he complained that he got the answers wrong. I knew those errors were my fault. I felt so bad that I decided to find help that very day. I’d heard about literacy tutoring at READ/San Diego while attending a program for new mothers, but placing that call was the hardest, most embarrassing thing I’d ever done. Their assessment of my spelling and reading placed me at the 3rd grade level.

“One month later, READ/San Diego found me a tutor, the sweetest lady I know. Our first year together was about learning only the basics: reading, writing and spelling. The biggest obstacle was (and still is) that I think in Spanish first. Another problem was that I was in denial, assuming that my reading skills were “normal.” When I was later asked to learn typing, I wanted to refuse. I’d tried before, but it was too hard and frustrating. I continued anyway with the tutor, though, and even added a computer typing program.

“After two more years, my new reading skills allowed me to pass my U.S. Citizenship test, which boosted my self esteem so high that I decided to study for a GED. READ/San Diego helped again by providing a math tutor. The day I passed all my GED tests I was so happy that I applied for the Navy Reserve and several months later passed that test too. All thanks to my tutor and four years of READ/San Diego support. After a three-month computer course, I graduated with a typing certificate of 47 wpm, perfect attendance and competency in Word, Excel, Lotus and WordPerfect. I was hired for a new job.

“My accomplishments inspired my husband to go back to school, become a U.S. Citizen, pass the GED and qualify for the Navy Reserve. Both of us are now going to college. My goal in writing my story, with my son’s encouragement, is to let the world know the importance of literacy and how it affected my life and family. Still, the most important thing to me is that I can now read and understand my three kids’ homework. Manuel, the oldest, still doesn’t enjoy reading or writing much, because in his early years I couldn’t help him. But his brother and sister, who had the benefit of my reading to them, have been successful throughout their education.”

Following her participation in the Library’s READ/San Diego program, Maria Gonzalez passed her GED, found a job and became active in her children’s education. — Maria-Gonzalez-in-stacks