News & Events

Summer Camp 2018

posted Sep 10, 2018, 9:56 AM by Jessica Reitz

Suffolk Literacy Tutors Honored

posted Nov 13, 2017, 9:49 AM by Lisa Cross   [ updated Nov 13, 2017, 9:53 AM ]

Students, tutors and others supporters of the Suffolk Literacy Council at the 30th Anniversary and Volunteer Appreciation Banquet held by Suffolk Literacy Council at the Planter’s Club on Tuesday.

Anniversary, tutors honored at banquet


By Alex Perry

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Published 9:31 pm Thursday, October 26, 2017

Lenard Williams, 55, was poised and earnest as he described his struggles with illiteracy to a crowd of more than 30 people on Tuesday.

His school teachers in Richmond would have him draw out answers when he couldn’t write them down, rather than teach him properly, he said. Williams talked about how his parents would scold him because they just didn’t think he was trying hard enough.

“I just couldn’t catch on,” Williams said.

He could only skim letters he received as an adult to grasp their messages, he said. He became a capable restaurant chef but still couldn’t read the menus.

He wanted to finally learn to read and write, he said, so he became a student with the Suffolk Literacy Council two years ago. His writing and reading skills have improved tremendously, along with his confidence, he said.

“When I first came, I was ashamed of it,” he said. “But I’m not ashamed anymore.”

He shared his story at the 30th Anniversary and Volunteer Appreciation Banquet held at the Planters Club in Suffolk on Tuesday. Board members, Suffolk Public Library representatives, city officials and more gathered to recognize the expanding programs and dedicated tutors of the Suffolk Literacy Council.

“Small victories add up to great accomplishments, and the Suffolk Literacy Council has done amazing things to serve others in the last 30 years,” Suffolk Social Services Director Azeez Felder said.

More than 50 volunteer tutors spend at least one hour per week in one-on-one reading and writing lessons with 92 active, adult students as of Tuesday, said tutor coordinator Jessica Reitz said. These tutors work to build trust with their students by understanding them as individuals.

“They bring a very intense passion,” Reitz said about her tutors. She said they want to make a difference through relationships and “real knowledge” so the students understand and sustain what they’ve learned in tutoring.

Tutors have also incorporated more math into their lessons in recent years. Students have benefited from a math lab at Paul D. Camp Community College since 2016, and 14 active tutors like Don Wittenauer focus primarily on teaching math.

“You’ve got to have this foundation of stuff that just pops into your head, like multiplication,” Wittenauer said. “Otherwise it slows you down.”

Tutors meet at the Suffolk Public Library and the Workforce Development Center with students of all languages, board president Robin Rose explained. Tutor Rick Vroman meets with staff at Plaza Azteca on North Main Street to improve their English.

Rose detailed the upcoming winter session follow-up to their popular summer camp, along with new programs planned for digital literacy and other essential skills to help them adapt to modern mediums of communication.

“We are continuing to make sure that the Suffolk Literacy Council makes an impact in the community,” she said.

Delegate Chris Jones, the organization’s first treasurer and the keynote speaker on Tuesday, praised the work of tutors at Western Tidewater Regional Jail and elsewhere to address the disturbing correlation between illiteracy and crime.

“You’re providing the key to a door for those that would be lost without words,” he said.

Williams was sharing a table at the banquet with Nelson Wilson, one of his tutors. Wilson described how they first met when Williams was cooking food for those in need at Suffolk Christian Church on North Main Street.

Wilson opened up to Williams about his own learning struggles growing up, creating a foundation of trust. Wilson described how much more confident Williams has become since they first met.

“I have every confidence that he’s going to do even better,” Wilson said.

Summer Camp 2017 Student Graduates

posted Nov 13, 2017, 9:30 AM by Lisa Cross   [ updated Nov 13, 2017, 9:44 AM ]

Students of the Suffolk Literacy Council’s “Summer Camp 2017, Science for the GED” celebrate their graduation with their class tutors on Thursday. Front row: Dorothy Cherry, Lavonia Miller, Dante Smith, Suffolk Literacy Council tutor coordinator Jessica Reitz, Brooke Smith and Anthony Smith; Back Row: Edgar Wiggins, Geraldine Reid and Suffolk Literacy Council tutor Don Wittenauer.

Summer class recognizes eager students


By Alex Perry

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Published 9:35 pm Friday, August 18, 2017

A summer class held at the Suffolk Workforce Development Center on North Main Street prepared some older students for testing, satisfied some of their curiosities and left some still hungry to learn.

A dozen adults graduated from the Suffolk Literacy Council “Summer Camp 2017: Science for the GED” on Thursday and received diplomas in recognition for their studies over the past eight weeks. Suffolk Literacy Council tutor Don Wittenauer — the Pilot Club’s 2017 Volunteer Literacy Tutor of the Year — held classes once per week and four hours per session with help from tutor coordinator Jessica Reitz.

For their third year of summer classes, Wittenauer and Reitz pulled from life science material found in the GED Test 2017 practice book published under the Kaplan Test Prep series. Wittenauer said his students were impressive as they learned about ecosystems and human bodies and treating both well.

“They were very inquisitive,” Wittenauer said. “There were a number of ‘a-ha’ moments where the pieces came together for them.”

The program didn’t require testing or grading. Wittenauer and Reitz instead encouraged the classmates to discuss their readings and notes with each other. They watched video clips of nature phenomena and human anatomy and took walks outside to observe what they read in real time.

Their Thursday session was spent reflecting on everything they learned and how much they had yet to  learn.

“The more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know,” Reitz said.

Each student was provided with a step log sheet thanks to a partnership with Suffolk on the Move coordinator Deborah Nadell, who spoke at a session about the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle for personal health.

Brooke Smith, a Smithfield resident and waitress at Texas Roadhouse in Suffolk, had no issue reaching her walking goals. Smith is studying for her GED to pursue a career in nursing. She passed the science test for the GED because the material Wittenauer used in his lessons was taken straight from the prep book, she said.

“I would come back even if I finished my GED,” she said. “I enjoy learning, and I enjoy the way he teaches.”

Edgar Wiggins, a Paul D. Camp Community College business administration student, signed up for the class out of curiosity. He was pleasantly surprised by the lessons and their practicality outside of the classroom, especially when concerning personal health.

“It took me to places in science I didn’t really know about,” Wiggins said.

Reitz said she hopes to get approval for another program this winter focused on economics and personal finance. She was encouraged by her students’ participation over the last eight weeks and is prepared for another round of discussions.

“We wanted to give them something meaningful, because they are hungry to learn,” she said.

Suffolk resident Dorothy Cherry earned perfect attendance for the class. She earned her GED in 2016 and was still eager for more learning, including more lessons from Wittenauer and Reitz.

“I enjoyed being here, and I’ll enjoy coming back again,” Cherry said.

Suffolk Literacy Council Thanks Our 2017 GiveLocal 757 Donors

posted Nov 13, 2017, 9:22 AM by Lisa Cross

The Suffolk Literacy Council would like to take this opportunity to thank our supporters of the 2017 Give Local online campaign.  We are thrilled with the results of Give Local.  We asked you, our supporters to embrace this campaign to help us in our mission to combat adult literacy in our community.  This year we raised $ 8014.20.


Thank you for your generous support!  We cannot do it without you!    

Suffolk Literacy Council 2017 Give Local 757  Campaign Donors

Sheri Anderson

Pearlie Blanks

Dallas Boone

Larry Brunson

Vermelle Byrd

Frances Carr

Scott& Heather Carr

Charles Cone

Oliver& Nancy Creekmore

Alice Cross

H Lee Cross IV

Joseph Cross

Lynn Cross

Amber Darden

Margaret Debranski

Linda Drummond

Lydia Duke

Fran Duman

Marie Evans

Azeez Felder

Marion Flood

Kay Goldberg

James& Rebecca Habel

Dr.& Mrs. Harrell III

A Charles Hassell II

James Jenkins

S. Chris & Karen Jones

Kelly Klass

Lynda Kennedy

Ernestine Langston

Alice Lee

Anna Locascio

Theresa Long

Bonnie Maki

LaQuisha McGlone

Marjorie McLemore

Barbara McPhail

Gary Meyers

Wanda Olden

Eugene Porter

Patsy Powell

Eliza Rainey

Catherine Randall

Jessica Reitz

Mary Anne Riddick

Robin Rose

Louise Ross

Clint Rudy

Ellen Harrison Saunders

Hyler Scott

Angela Smith

Faye Sobel

Ron Sobel

Mills Staylor

Virginia Staylor

J D Sullivan

Ernie& Maryanne Sulski

Bettie Swain

Lisa Tarkington

Lue Ward

Helen Weber

Lindsey White

Lori White

Susan White

Charles White III

Edgar Wiggins

Elbert Williams

Marsha Winslow

Donald Wittenaur

Brighton Rock Lodge No 79

Greater Oakland & Chuckatuck Civic League

Suffolk Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

2017 Give Local 757 Campaign

posted Apr 6, 2017, 6:40 AM by Lisa Cross   [ updated May 14, 2018, 6:14 AM ]

We hope you will help us as we join organizations around the region in the Give Local 757 initiative.  This is the one time a year when various non-profits partner together to request contributions for the year. 

This allows us several opportunities to amplify your donation amount with incentives from the organizers of the Give Local 757 initiative.

Two ways to give:
  • • Check mailed to us by May 5, 2017:

    Suffolk Literacy Council

    Workforce Development Center

    157 North Main Street

    2nd Floor

    Suffolk VA 23434

    • Credit card donation online between Midnight and 11:59 PM on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at:


For more information, please see or contact any of the following:

Literacy Council office (757) 514-7733

Linda Drummond (757) 570-1707

Gin Staylor (757) 630-0627

Thank you for your continuing support and for helping to make a difference in the community.

Reading Student Lavonia Miller's Research Project

posted Mar 23, 2017, 10:31 AM by Jessica Reitz   [ updated Nov 13, 2017, 9:08 AM by Lisa Cross ]

        St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th. There are various traditions people celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day. One tradition that people celebrate on St. Patrick’s day is by wearing green. If you don’t wear green you will get a pinch.

      Another tradition people celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day is by gathering with their loved ones to share a meal of corned beef and cabbage. Irish immigrants living on New York City’s Lower East Side substituted corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save money. 

      Finally, a tradition people celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day is by finding four-leaf-clovers. You can find a four-leaf-clover in the park. When you find a four-leaf-clover just remember that it represents something. It represents faith, hope, luck, and love. And that’s how people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day !!

Round Up to Support Suffolk Literacy Council

posted Jan 5, 2017, 9:10 AM by Lisa Cross

A. Dodson's is a shop with unique gifts for men and women, boys and girls of various ages. Each month, they pick a non-profit for their "Round-Up Month" and this month is Suffolk Literacy Council! That means that at their three stores, customers have the option to "round-up"to support SLC. If their bill is 10.35, that means they would round up to $11 and SLC would get 65 cents. Stop by A. Dodson's to support SLC this January!

2948 Bridge Rd Suffolk VA 23435 757.483.1344
1611A Colley Ave Norfolk VA 757.222.0254
VB 500 Laskin Road, VB VA 757.965.9426

We Teach Basic Math through Fractions, Decimals & Word Problems

posted Sep 21, 2016, 8:19 AM by Lisa Cross   [ updated Sep 21, 2016, 12:47 PM ]

Student Charles learning improper fractions!

Student Charles learning improper fractions!
Many adults who struggle with reading find basic math such as arithmetic and even counting a struggle. The SLC has addressed this by providing free Math tutors for students who want to improve their skills. Some students need to count money, some find their lack of skills effect their job performance and others need to pass the math portion of the GED. Many of our reading tutors find the incorporation of math skills in the tutoring sessions to be necessary.

Saratoga Community UNITY event

posted Sep 18, 2016, 5:01 AM by Lisa Cross

On Sep. 17, CAPS, CAC of Suffolk and Suffolk Clergy United sponsored a UNITY event to promote fellowship and friendship among Suffolk citizens. President Lisa Cross and her husband Harry represented us, telling people who we and what we do, and enjoying the fellowship and food. 


posted Sep 12, 2016, 4:56 PM by Lisa Cross   [ updated Sep 12, 2016, 5:10 PM ]

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