News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Mike Lunsford

December 27, 2009

The Off Season: Mr. Lunglard’s incomplete education

I had a very interesting week in early November, and I’m happy that I had so many other stories on my writing plate at the time that I’ve waited until now to tell you about it.

My excellent adventure actually started last summer when June Dunbar, who is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Vigo County Public Library, asked me if I’d be interested in speaking to Vigo County schoolchildren about writing. You see, besides handling her job at the library, and filling the tall order of keeping an eye on her husband, Jim, June is on the steering committee of PALS, otherwise known as Partners Advancing Literacy.

PALS formed nearly four years ago, and in its own words, its goal is to “celebrate literacy and lower the relationship, skill and resource barriers that inhibit high levels of literacy.” In my mind, that simply means that these good folks want to make it easier to help local kids learn how to read and write better, and perhaps enjoy it more, too. How could I say no?

So, despite some serious doubts as to whether I was qualified to tackle the job, I said, “OK.” I mean, it’s wasn’t like I hadn’t been in front of students before, and I have done a fair share of writing. Besides, speaking to a few small groups of kids couldn’t be that tough.

By early fall, the plan had changed a little. Instead of speaking at 16 elementary schools, would I be interested in going to the six middle schools in the county and meeting with sixth-graders? By then, June had handed the difficult task of dealing with my temperament to Gail Artis, the Vigo County School Corp.’s curriculum coordinator. Gail told me that some of the groups I’d be speaking to would be more than 250 students.

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