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Pottawatomie County Literacy Program TANF Class

Pioneer Library System

Innovation Leader: Jane Douglass, Literacy Coordinator, Pioneer Library System - Pioneer Library System, janed@pls.lib.ok.us

Problem Statement

Low literacy adults in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma must overcome the barriers to educational access to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families. The Pioneer Library System provides adult literacy services through an innovative collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) clients to find self-sufficiency through education.

The challenge of the TANF classroom is to meet the diverse learning needs of adults who require one-on-one instruction, and at the same time provide the basic life skills that will enable them to become self-sufficient and cope in today’s workplace

Innovation

Pottawatomie County’s TANF program strives to enrich learning through extended curriculum activities, exemplary instruction, and personal attention to student needs. The classroom provides reading, writing and math instruction that are integrated into a rich learning experience for each adult learner.

The use of technology enhances instruction and provides additional resources for students to explore. Art projects are used to engage learners with their imagination and to provide opportunities to work within a kinesthetic/tactile environment. Basic skills presentations connect adults to information that will help to improve students’ financial knowledge and health needs. Students remain in the class until they are employed or reach a sixth grade reading proficiency level. Unemployed students who reach their educational goals are referred to a DHS education partner who offers GED classes.

Celebrations are an important part of the TANF classroom. Promoted students receive promotion packet when they leave that includes a notebook, pencils and a GED calculator. After the program, students remain involved as they are invited to participate in library system-wide activities and state literacy events and conferences.

Progress

In 2008-2009, 66% of students enrolled in TANF classes either found employment or were promoted to GED classes. Five students passed their drivers license exams.