Friends, Tutors, and Marching Ahead

friend·ship    /ˈfren(d)SHip/    noun

  • 1.the emotions or conduct of friends; the state of being friends.

We need all the friends we can get. As individuals and as organizations, we function best when we are united around what we have in common.

That’s why we created the Friends of Hoosier Literacy.  Friends of Hoosier Literacy is an informal group of local citizens who support the mission of the Hoosier Hills Literacy League.

Founding member Donna Marple, who recently retired from Ivy Tech, says, “As a lifelong educator, I can think of no better way to give back to my community than by promoting literacy.  I know that there are many people who will support the  wonderful work you are doing.” (Read more about our work here.)

Our Mission

The Hoosier Hills Literacy League enhances personal growth and individual livelihood by providing literacy instruction, community outreach and supportive resources to residents of Southeastern Indiana.

If you can stand by that mission, and can afford at least $5 ($1 if you are a student), then would you consider becoming our friend?

As a benefit of membership, you will receive our monthly newsletter (if you are reading this, you already do), and priority registration for special events.

You will also be able to say that you support literacy.  How cool is that? Click on the picture below to go to our on-line form.



As the “Our Local Literacy League,” we have a small handful of tutors who work one-on-one with adults who have reading challenges.  We’d like to increase the number of tutors we have so that those who are in our classes can advance more quickly as they work one-on-one with a tutor.

To that end, we are changing the way we train our tutors.  Instead of waiting for our semi-annual tutor training, new tutors will be able to take an on-line tutor training called Tutor Ready.  Here they can get as much training as they need to feel comfortable, and they can return to the site for refreshers as they the need arises.  Each module is about 15-20 minutes long, and includes research based methods about how to teach reading to adults, and includes videos or real tutors using those techniques with real students.

There are a total of 52 modules, and the entire curriculum can be completed in about 12-15 hours.  Since many of our volunteer tutors have prior experience in education, we require that they view at least 4 hours of the curriculum.

After they complete the minimum of 4 hours, new tutors will meet with the Literacy Administrator and be given a tutoring assignment.

Learn more about Tutor Ready by going here, and contact me here to let me know you’re interested!

march into spring

Finally, I have to spend a little time talking about Margie Kleier.  Margie is one of our long-time volunteers.  Back in the 90’s, she joined the Literacy League when it was still a volunteer organization.  Her co-worker Ann Smith, who was the president of HHLL at the time, told her she just had to get involved, and so she did.

Margie has served on the board in several capacities, and as the Business Manager of the Lawrenceburg Public Library District, the wonderful organization who hosts the HHLL, she served as the liaison between the two organizations.  In addition, for over a decade, Margie gave hundreds of hours each week tutoring the Pre-GED and GED Prep students in math, and continuing to  work with them on basic reading as the program changed to Adult Literacy.

Margie will be retiring and moving with her husband to North Carolina in mid-April. Always a gentle encourager to both our students and her co-workers, Margie will be greatly missed.  Stop by LPL and chat with Margie before her last day on April 14.

Not everyone can be so heavily involved, but many can become a Friend of Hoosier Literacy, and if we have friends, we will have all we need.






What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love

Dionne Warwick sang it first in 1966.

It makes a good song, and who can argue with the idea?

It’s a simple idea, but it’s not so simple to hand heartimplement.


You can’t exactly go around hugging everyone you meet.  In fact, that approach could do more harm than good!

But it’s also been said that one way to spell love is T-I-M-E.

Everyone has ideas about what is wrong in our society.  We could talk about the breakdown of the family, the lack of funding/accountability/values in our public education system, how easy it is to get illegal weapons or illegal drugs, the lack of caring community and the resulting rise in loneliness.

We can name the problem, but that only will get us so far.  If we want to be part of the solution, we need to take the next step.


If love is the answer, and love is spelled T-I-M-E, then why not find the non-profit that addresses a particular problem, and VOLUNTEER?

You can mentor a child through Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and support a struggling family. (Go to, or call Laura Rolf at 812-747-7281)


You can volunteer in a local classroom through Hoosier Hills Literacy League and support a kindergarten teacher. (Call Laura Priebe at 812-584-8516, or go to

You can join with Citizens Against Substance Abuse and support the individuals working on the ground level to encourage us all to Always Think Prevention. (

You can be the Voice of a Child who has been a victim of abuse or neglect, and become trained as a Court Appointed Child Advocate. (Go to or call 812-537-8741)

If you are over the age of 55, you can join with others in a variety of volunteer opportunities through Retired & Senior Volunteer Program.  (, or call 812-539-4005)

These are just some ideas, and each has a different time commitment.  If nothing here appeals to you, get on-line and search for an opportunity that fits your passion.

Volunteering benefits our community, but the person who volunteers also experiences many benefits as well. According to an on-line article in The Balance, some of those benefits include better brain function, more powerful attachments, improved mental health, emotional stability, self-esteem, and even job prospects.  Studies also show that those who volunteer not only lead more satisfied lives, but they also live longer! (

So, instead of complaining about how bad things are, get in there and make a positive change.  You’ll be glad you did.

What’s the Word JANUARY really mean?

janusDid you know that the month of January was named after the Roman god, Janus?  According to, Janus is “an ancient Roman god of doorways, of beginnings …..usually  represented as having one head with two bearded faces back to back, looking in opposite directions.

In January we look back and we look ahead.  Though we are not mythical gods, we still have the ability to go into the new year having learned something from the previous year’s events.

As I look back at my involvement in the world of literacy during 2017, there are several things I’d like to share.  (If you want to know more about any of these endeavors, click on the highlighted links). Continue reading

EC Student Helps Inmates Escape


reading escape“Is it ok if I look at some of these books while we wait?”  Those words are music to any teacher’s ears.

“Sure,” I said.  I was busy grading papers, and it would only be a few minutes before the men went back to their dorm.  The man who had asked about the books started talking about his favorite authors and titles.

“Do you know, I never read a book from beginning to end until I came to jail?”

That comment is what really made me want to expand the library at the jail.

You may never have thought of having access to books as a freedom.  With the internet providing 24

hour access to information, we don’t hear much about book burnings these days.

Knowledge is power, and over the years books have had an undeniable influence history.  Abraham Lincoln, when he met Harriet Beecher Stowe, is said to have commented, “So you’re the little lady who started this big war.”  Her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin gave readers in 1852 a realistic and deeply disturbing picture of slavery.  Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (and the film by the same name) similarly held a magnifying glass up to psychiatry practices in the 1960s, and indirectly led to reforms in the field.

Reading for pleasure can be just a powerful. Reading about another person’s experiences builds empathy and creates understanding.  Anyone who has read Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum can understand better the complexities of life under Nazi rule in Germany in the 1930s, especially for women.

Rarely does one pick up a book because they want to change their minds, however.  Most often we just want to read a good story.  That’s certainly the case for the men and women in the Dearborn County jail.

And that’s what inspired East Central senior, Anna Kubitz to hold a book drive to re-stock the shelves of the library at the jail. With the help of her English Teacher Jennifer Tucker, Anna collected over 200 paperbacks from her fellow students and staff at East Central.   Topics ranged from young adult dystopian fiction to fantasy, as well as non-fiction titles about attaining a pilot’s license or raising poultry.

As I sorted, marked and stacked the books on the shelves, the female students in my adult education independent study class browsed the donations.  Once in a while a title stood out, and I held it up.  With a stack of books in front of her, one student said “Stop!  You’re killing me!  I already have so many books!”  Like kids in a candy shop, each book was a treat.  They admired each book, commenting often on the quality.  They took as many as they wanted, with promises to complete writing assignments for each book they read.

Now there are plenty of choices for those who want to escape the walls of the Dearborn County jail. Legally and literarily.jail book drive

What’s the Word?

What’s the Word?

Welcome to the new Blog of the Hoosier Hills Literacy League!  Here you will find a monthly update of the local literacy world, and the reflections of the Literacy Administrator, Laura Priebe (that’s me!).  I welcome your comments, and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss an update!
This month the theme is actually 3 words, as I reflect on what I learned at the ProLiteracy Conference  in Minneapolis!

First, THANK You to the a SafeSpeed Foundation, which awarded me a scholarship which more than covered the cost of attending!  I would not have attended if it weren’t for this scholarship!  Thanks, Safespeed!

So… my 3 words – Volunteers,  Community and Technology

The first day was a Pre-Conference on Volunteer Management, presented by the Minnesota Literacy Council.  Minnesota uses hundreds of volunteers to address the problem of literacy, which, by the way, is the world’s largest solvable social ill.  So, needless to say, they have a lot to say about managing volunteers!

It’s commonly assumed that volunteerism is not as common today as it once was.  “Those Millennials” just don’t want to volunteer…well, I discovered that this is a misconception.  There are only slightly fewer volunteers today than there have been in years past, but the type of volunteer has changed.  Click here to read more about current volunteer opportunities for HHLL – from arm chair volunteering, also known as “slactivism,” to short term projects, to helping set the course of the future of the HHLL – there’re lots of ways to help!

This word means so many different things to people than it did in years past.  Community used to be synonymous with neighborhood.  Now we talk of on-line communities, a concept that removes the barriers of geography, but with different limitations.  Community can also refer to the feeling of connection you achieve when you gather around a common goal.  A physical place, such as a classroom, office or workplace can promote community, and many free-standing literacy organizations consciously seek to build a “community of learners,” where adult students can feel supported and connected to others who have similar goals and struggles.

HHLL does not have a permanent public area in which students and tutors regularly gather.  We are grateful for the community organizations that host our programs and office (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU LPL, Ivy Tech and ARCC!).  That doesn’t mean we cannot build community among our tutors and learners, however – we just have to be creative!  This blog is a part of that effort (comment comment, comment!) and we also now have an Adult Literacy Class Facebook group, and we plan to have regular tutor gatherings.  I have realized that I personally have a need to feel more connected to others involved in local literacy efforts, so I will be reaching out to “build community” with those that are already involved as well as with those who might like to join us.

The Barbara Bush Foundation lauched the XPrize to invite edtech companies and entrepreneurs to develop technology specifically for adult learners.  Three of the 8 semi-finalists were present at the conference, and  I got a good look at their products.  One product, an app / on-line game called Learning Upgrade, is free to 30 of our students for the rest of 2017.  Xenos Isle is another, and Cell-Ed are the others.  (Click on those to check out the demos!)  Depending on learner response, we will likely seek funding to launch one of those learning platforms sometime in 2018.  In addition, I will be reviewing and gathering several free resources into a “Learner Resources” tab on our homepage.  Technology also extends to tutor training /professional development, so I will also add another tab to our homepage labelled “Tutor Resources.”