Literacy Delaware recognizes outstanding tutors

September 25, 2021

Volunteers are the heart of everything Literacy Delaware does. The organization recently recognized two of its volunteers for their outstanding contributions during the past year. 

The Janet Neville Loper and Edward Loper Sr. Meritorious Service Award went to Richard Carver.

When COVID-19 hit, all programming needed to move online since in-person instruction was no longer feasible, yet the organization had never offered virtual instruction. That’s when Carver, a volunteer tutor, stepped up to help with the monumental undertaking of pivoting the entire operation to online learning. Carver, now the resident IT guru, was and is instrumental to Literacy Delaware’s success with online instruction. 

Carver conducted numerous workshops on how to use remote platforms, and shared tutoring and remote teaching ideas to inform and engage tutors. He developed a tutor resource intranet with links to websites offering resources for online teaching, and he continues to conduct mentoring sessions for new volunteers. He is always available for personalized one-to-one tech sessions to assist tutors, learners and staff as needed. 

“We could not have moved as quickly or as smoothly to online services if it had not been for Rich,” said Cynthia Shermeyer, Literacy Delaware director. “He is so deserving of the Loper Award.”   

In 1983, Janet Neville Loper was a member of the initial volunteer tutor training class for what was then called Literacy Volunteers of America’s Wilmington library affiliate. In addition to tutoring, Loper also helped with office clerical duties for many years. Her husband Edward Loper Sr. donated signed prints of his artwork for prizes at fundraising events. Established in 2008, the award is given annually to a volunteer who exemplifies the Lopers’ involvement with and financial support of Literacy Delaware. 

The Charles and Rose H. Arsht Tutor Excellence Award was given to Dianne Nichols.

“It is always difficult to choose just one volunteer tutor for this award; however, this year Dianne Nichols was an obvious choice for her many contributions,” said Shermeyer. A retired reading specialist, Nichols leverages her training and unique skills to reach adults the schools didn’t reach. In addition to tutoring her own four learners, each of whom has shown significant growth, she conducts workshops for other tutors on foundational reading skills and stepped up to manage IXL, an online reading skills program newly adopted by the organization which tutors can use to give their learners extra practice.  At the onset of the pandemic, Nichols didn’t miss a beat, delivering materials to her students so they could continue learning, even if only by telephone. 

The Charles and Rose H. Arsht Tutor Excellence Award was established in 2017 in memory of the Arshts, longtime Wilmington residents. The award is given to a volunteer tutor who goes above and beyond in their work with Literacy Delaware. The recipient’s efforts mirror the quality instruction the organization strives to provide. 

“Without help from these two outstanding tutors, it is unlikely that our organization would have navigated the pandemic as well as we did. Most importantly, our learners were able to continue their studies, helping to better their lives and the lives of their families,” said Shermeyer. 

Believing that literacy is the great equalizer, Literacy Delaware advances literacy through training, tutoring, English language acquisition and advocacy for all Delawareans. For 38 years, Literacy Delaware has trained volunteers to tutor adults with low literacy or English language skills.

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