The 150 volunteers at Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) are responsible for turning on the light for many adults in the Dallas Metroplex. LIFT volunteers like Nancy Spivey, who has been working with adult learners for the past six years, know one cannot learn to read overnight. Behind LIFT classroom walls, students manipulate the letters of the alphabet, sometimes for the first time, into a sequence of 26. From this sequence, they begin to form the 44 sounds that make up the English language. Soon sounds form words and words become phrases. Spivey, one of LIFT's most dedicated volunteers said, "Some days, the steps to success are extremely small ones, but they are still important. Every student has a different learning style. You have to search to find the key for each student."
Nancy Spivey is currently teaching a new literacy class on four days a week for three hours. This new accelerated class will be completed in one year. All LIFT basic literacy volunteers teach a multi-sensory, phonics-based curriculum developed by the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. Many adults entering the LIFT program have learning differences by working with a multi-sensory curriculum, all the learner’s senses are applied to the learning process and students are able to grasp the concepts of learning to read and write.
Volunteers, like Spivey, not only teach basic reading and writing in the classrooms, they strive to teach necessary life skills that students can apply on the job and take home to children, neighbors and spouses. With the help of volunteers, LIFT students learn to read a billing statement and to balance their checkbooks. They learn geography, dictionary skills and parenting skills. Spivey, who has been actively teaching at LIFT for the past seven years, volunteers as a Board member for LIFT and is valued as an active participant on the Program Committee. She was named 1999 LIFT Volunteer of the Year, and was honored at the Annual Meeting for her outstanding dedication to the students at LIFT.
Spivey also develops and designs the curriculum that accommodates LIFT's students with dyslexia and learning differences. She also serves as a mentor and trainer for the new volunteers at LIFT, bringing her volunteer hours to at least 20 per week.
Spivey, slightly dyslexic herself, has faced challenges head-on and is determined to keep teaching until her students graduate from the program.