Adult Literacy News

Planting the Seeds of Learning and Growing

View the original article at the Redlands Community New (September 13, 2019)


Production of ‘Seedfolks’ play honors National Adult Literacy Day

The Redlands Adult Literacy Program celebrated Adult Literacy Day with the production of “Seedfolks,” a play based on a short children’s book by Paul Fleischman, on Saturday at the Contemporary Club.

The story about individuals from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds who come together to clean up a junky lot and turn it into a garden. In accordance with National Literacy Day on Sunday, Sept. 8, Redlands commemorated the occasion by honoring Sept. 7 as Adult Literacy Day.

Diane Shimota, adult literacy coordinator, opened the event by acknowledging those involved with making the play successful and sharing the news with those in attendance: “I’d especially like to acknowledge each and everyone of you for coming to celebrate adult literacy with us today,” added Shimota. “We are happy to announce that today is honored as Adult Literacy Day here in Redlands.

“Last year, one of the literacy book clubs groups shared together the short, but powerful book Seedfolks. The members of the group were so impressed by this books entertaining and profound story that a decision was made to make this short selection the Adult Literacy Book of the Year,” said Trudy Waldron, a leader in the Smiley Library literacy program, told the audience.

“All 100-plus team members including volunteers and community members have been invited to read this selection with a promise that we would gather today for National Adult Literacy Day,”

Waldron was accompanied by learner Tanya Jauregui, who stood courageously and proud as she read to the audience.

“One of the main reasons is that while reading we discovered that many of the steps necessary in growing a garden are similar to the steps we need to improve our reading and writing skills and grow in our self-confidence,” Jauregui said.

The symbolism of this simple, yet profound work of literature, expresses the similarities between planting a garden and learning to read.

“Both tasks give you the opportunity to anticipate the wonderful results of handwork. Gardner’s enjoy the anticipation of delicious vegetables while literacy learners anticipate the promise of new opportunities in their homes and jobs and community,” read Jauregui.

The procession of the play began with garbage painted on cardboard boxes and as the play progressed the boxes were transformed to beautifully painted plants and vegetables. As each scene transitioned to the next, the music picked by the plays director Teresa Dolan, also expressed the dichotomy one might find within a community: from Dave Brubeck to Ravi Shankar to Cat Stevens. Different kinds of music from different cultures and styles.

“It’s so wonderful to be able to help them grow, and to watch these individuals have a whole world open up to them, and to discover new worlds,” said Kathrine Gifford, also a leader in the Adult Literacy Program and member of the Friends of the Library.

“This is why I do it. As you help a learner to read and write you see how their eyes brighten and the thrill that they have. “From here they’re able to get jobs, to help their children and grandchildren to read and to pursue further education for themselves. We’ve had learners go on to college and get their GED.

“To be a part of that process is just wonderful.”

Leaving the Contemporary Club each person in attendance received a small, squared piece of plantable seed paper with the quote:

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” by Audrey Hepburn.

Seedfolks was made possible through grants from California Library Literacy Services and Modern Woodmen, funding from the city of Redlands and A.K. Smiley Public Library, and donations to the Friends of A.K. Smiley Public Library.


Learners in Redlands Adult Literacy Program use their skills to help the community

View the original article at the Redlands Daily Facts (January 13, 2018)


Lucila Campa, who has participated in the Redlands Adult Literacy Program, reads to Anaya Barboza, 3, at the A.K. Smiley Public Library’s Spanish story time Jan. 9. 

By Diane Shimota

Learners who participate in the Redlands Adult Literacy Program gain reading and writing skills that change their lives. The changes in their individual lives create a ripple effect felt throughout the community of Redlands.

Tutors witness the impact when learners are able to use their literacy skills to apply for jobs, learn about current events, help their children with homework or volunteer in the community. The ability to read is a foundation for success in today’s society and literacy’s benefits flow through families, the workplace and the community. Two stories illustrate these benefits of adult literacy.

Maria Moreno learned about the literacy program from a friend. She appeared one day at the door of the adult literacy program at Lugonia Elementary School and asked for help. Since that time she has read multiple books, written journal messages to her granddaughters and invited friends and family to join the adult literacy program.

Moreno visited the A.K. Smiley Public Library for the first time when she met there for tutoring. She was excited to see the beautiful historic library and to find out about the many programs available for her granddaughter. Since then, her granddaughter has become a frequent visitor to the library’s Young Readers’ Room and loves to use the computers and attend story time.

Moreno shared her progress with her adult children, and her daughter joined the adult literacy program. With the help of the adult literacy program, her daughter became a teacher’s aide at a local school and she is taking college classes to advance her education.

Moreno’s initial effort to improve her reading has rippled through two more generations of her family and helped her daughter to advance their education and gain employment.

Lucila Campa wanted to improve her reading and writing so that she could be a better advocate for her young daughters. As part of her effort to improve her literacy, Campa obtained her citizenship, participated in the Writer-to-Writer Challenge, attended the Adult Learner Leadership Institute workshop and spoke to the Redlands City Council in support of the adult literacy program.

Campa is using her new-found skills to volunteer. She speaks to new tutors at the library’s quarterly tutor training meetings, telling her literacy story and answering questions. In April, she will facilitate two sessions at this year’s Adult Learner Leadership Institute workshop, and she has begun volunteering as a reader for one of the children’s story time sessions at the A.K. Smiley Public Library.

Campa is committed to using her literacy skills to help people in Redlands.

Over the past seven years, volunteers with the Redlands Adult Literacy Program have assisted more than 400 adults seeking to improve their literacy. Each person has a unique literacy goal. An auto mechanic improved his reading skills so he could read manuals and take certification tests, a janitor improved his literacy to take online skills tests to advance in his job and an assistant coach wanted to be able to read well enough to go to college. A mom wanted to improve her writing so she could communicate with her son who lived out of state, and a dad wanted to be able to read books to his son.

With their newfound literacy skills, adult learners work and volunteer in Redlands. These remarkable adults have one thing in common, a passion to improve their literacy, and as they do, they share that passion with those around them and the entire community is enhanced.

The Redlands Adult Literacy Program matches volunteer tutors with adult learners who want to improve their reading and writing skills. These literacy teams meet weekly for at least six months and over time they are all able to witness the life-changing impact of literacy.

If you know someone who wants to improve his or her literacy or if you would like to become a volunteer tutor with the Redlands Adult Literacy Program, visit A. K. Smiley Public Library and ask for the adult literacy coordinator. The adult literacy coordinator can also be reached at 909-798-7565, ext. 4138, or through email at All information is treated confidentially.

To read more about the Redlands Adult Literacy Program, go to

Diane Shimota is adult literacy coordinator at the A.K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands.

How One Woman Overcame Adult Illiteracy and Changed Her Life

View the full article on Guideposts.

Would you like to help someone learn to read and write?

We invite you to learn more at the Redlands Adult Literacy Program meetings.

Note:  To become a literacy tutor, volunteers are required to attend both the Orientation and Tutor Training.

To sign up or if you have questions, please contact Diane Shimota, Adult Literacy Coordinator, at 909.798.7565, ext. 4138 or email: !

Learn more about the life-changing benefits of adult literacy.  We welcome your participation.


Tutor Orientation and Training 2017

Partnerships Help Adult Literacy Program Grow

The Redlands Adult Literacy Program is grateful to its community partners who provide important services that extend the mission of helping adults in our community improve their reading and writing.

Community partnerships allowed adult literacy services to be provided at multiple locations: Clement Middle School, Lugonia Elementary School, Family Service Association, and the Redlands Community Center, as well as A. K. Smiley Public Library. Generous grants and donations allowed the adult literacy program to support its primary mission of tutoring adults one-on- one, as well as offer computer classes, online literacy software, and book clubs to foster reading comprehension.

Leading community partners were recently asked why they supported adult literacy in Redlands. We would like to share their insights, with gratitude for their ongoing support.

Robert Clarey, Principal of Clement Middle School, responded that the importance of literacy in families cannot be emphasized enough. Principal Clarey wrote: “Parents who read to their children are providing them with a tool that will help them be successful throughout their lives.”

Principal Kathy Jeide of Lugonia Elementary School echoed this sentiment: “If students see the adults in the home reading, curiosity prompts dialogue and shared reading follows. A win-win situation.”

David Finley, Principal of the Redlands Adult School, shared that the “Redlands Adult School is very grateful for our partnership with the Adult Literacy program offered through Smiley Library and its team of dedicated volunteers.  We see the need for this kind of support in our community on [a] regular basis.  We often have adults who come to Redlands Adult School with literacy skills below the necessary threshold for them to be fully successful in our GED or High School Diploma programs, or even in our Basic Skills program.  We refer these individuals to the Adult Literacy program where they receive one-on-one attention that builds their literacy skills to the point where are able to be successful in our programs.  The program, offered through our partners at Smiley Library, fills a fundamental need in our community and is an integral part of support systems in our community that work together to create [a] systematic pathway that meaningfully strengthens the social and economic opportunities for Adults across the Inland Empire.”

Many adult learners seek to improve their reading and writing so that they can get a new or better job. To support learner goals, the Redlands Adult Literacy Program, The Blessing Center, Family Service Association, and Redlands Adult School provide mutual referrals to job fairs, employment boot camps, ESL classes, GED courses, citizenship classes, computer training, and job interview workshops.

The Redlands Adult Literacy Program offers its services at no cost to adult learners. Grants and donations are a critical component of sustaining and expanding adult literacy services. In 2016, the Redlands Adult Literacy Program received a matching donation from Modern Woodmen. These funds are being used to acquire books for adult literacy book clubs, which allows adult learners to build their own home libraries. Jennifer Escobar, a former tutor, and her husband, Curtis Dison, donated funds to support a tutor training program. The Redlands Community Foundation generously offered funds which were used to purchase core literacy materials for tutors and learners. A grant from Edison International allowed for the purchase of technology that was used at off-site adult literacy locations and the library.

Jennifer Escobar Presents Grant to AKSPL

Jennifer Escobar presents grant to AKSPL

The Edison International grant also funded the development and teaching of computer classes that helped learners reach their goals of using computers to improve their reading and their ability to search for jobs.

The most important partnership is with the generous Redlands community who support adult literacy through direct donations and volunteering. Funding from local supporters and the Friends of A. K. Smiley Public Library, Alpha Delta Kappa, Delta Kappa Gamma, Kiwanis, Zonta and the Contemporary Club further expanded the opportunities for program enrichment and demonstrated the core local support for adult literacy.

New tutors joined seasoned volunteers so that one-on- one tutoring is possible. In 2017, we welcomed the following new tutors: Joseph Amador, Vikram Asher, Judith Bray, Michael Cano, Mel Clark, Daria Cross, Karen Curran, Kathy Hull, Lynn Kelley-Piper, Ellen Kronowitz, Owen Sheeran, and Amy Whitehead.

Working with their tutors, many learners reach their goals of obtaining new or better employment, helping their children with homework, demonstrating the importance of reading to their children, gaining citizenship, entering into college and seeing the world in new ways through reading.

Literacy is life-changing for adult learners, their families, literacy volunteers, and the Redlands community. You are invited to contact Diane Shimota, Adult Literacy Coordinator, at 909.798.7565, ext. 4138 or email:, if you would like help in improving your reading and writing, want to volunteer with the Redlands Adult Literacy Program, or donate to support adult literacy in Redlands.

The next tutor orientation is scheduled for Monday, April 10 th , at 6:00 p.m. at the A. K. Smiley Public Library Assembly Room. To read more about the Redlands Adult Literacy Program, visit


The beginning of 2017 gives the Redlands Adult Literacy Program the opportunity to celebrate its 2016 achievements and highlight plans for the new year. The mission of the Redlands Adult Literacy Program is to help adults who want to improve their reading and writing skills. This mission is achieved through the hard work of adult learners, their dedicated tutors and community support and partnerships.

Throughout 2016, learners expressed their gratitude for the adult literacy program. Their gratitude is reflected in the following:

Salma Marquez is grateful that she can now help her children with homework and communicate with their teachers. Salma’s long term goal is to obtain a nursing degree. Veronica Leon celebrates using her new reading and writing skills to correctly fill out forms for her job. Derek Rodriquez said that the adult literacy program helps him motivate his daughter to do well in school because she sees him working hard at his lessons every day.

The Redlands Adult Literacy Program served nearly 100 adult learners in 2016. Every learner has a unique story about how the literacy program helped them, but all learners showed increased confidence as a result of their improved literacy.

The Redlands Adult Literacy Program relies on its dedicated volunteer tutors. Each adult learner is matched to an individual tutor volunteer, who meets weekly with the learner. Tutors know the importance of adult literacy. Tutor Vicki Shaw noted: “If you can read, you can learn to do almost anything.” This sentiment was echoed by Tutor Mary Bailey: “Adult literacy impacts every area of life. It opens windows of opportunity for jobs, becoming a citizen, helping others in the home, schools, and community. Adult learners have a new future with improved literacy skills.”

In 2016, The Redlands Adult Literacy Program responded to requests from adult learners by adding new learning opportunities: book clubs, a weekly literacy class at the library, and new computer classes.

Book clubs for adult learners were formed using local donations and a matching grant from Modern Woodmen. Book club members read biographies of Harriet Tubman and Helen Keller, as well as an autobiography, The Circuit, by Francisco Jimenez.

The Redlands Adult Literacy Program relies upon its community partnerships to thrive. The most important partnership is with the community at large, which promotes the importance of adult literacy and makes private donations. The program is also grateful for the ongoing support of the Friends of A.K. Smiley Public Library, the library trustees, and the city of Redlands. Other vital partnerships include the Redlands Adult School, Clement Middle School, Lugonia Elementary School, Family Service Association and the Redlands Community Center. New partnerships were formed in 2016 with the Blessing Center and Youth Hope.

In addition to local partnerships, California Library Literacy Service (CLLS), a program of the California State Library, became an important partner this year. CLLS augments the city’s funding of the adult literacy coordinator position, and supports adult learners through CLLS-funded programs. For example, CLLS sponsors the Adult Literacy Leadership Institute (ALLI), which trains adult learners to become adult literacy ambassadors. Adult learners from Redlands who participated in 2016 are Ana Alcantar, Lucila Campa, and Crystal Moreno. Since attending ALLI they participated on a tutor/learner panel at the October tutor training, assisted with adult literacy events and spoke with representatives from the American Library Association on the importance of adult literacy.

The new year brings exciting opportunities. Edison International recently awarded a grant to the Redlands Adult Literacy Program which will fund additional computer classes. The Redlands Community Foundation has provided grant funds that will be used to purchase key learning materials for learners.

The new small-group conversation and book club class will continue to meet weekly at the library where learners will read the fictional story: Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLaughlin, work on new vocabulary, and learn more about the world by reading the weekly adult literacy newspaper, News for You. Adult Literacy book club participants will read a sequel to The Circuit entitled Breaking Through.

You are invited see the library’s adult literacy book collection, located next to Reference. Check out some of the materials that are used as part of the adult literacy program.

Adult Literacy Book Club Dec - 2016

Adult Literacy Book Club
%d bloggers like this: