Student Stories


 literacy 02

 Photo Credit: Rebecca Hall Photography



Watch our latest student interview





 The following interview with former student and BLC board member, Gary Porter will give you an excellent overview of what we do, whether you are a potential student or volunteer with the Council.







Written by Kelly

This has been my life. I struggled all through school but I graduated from grade 12. However, all through school I bullied people to do my work so I could pass the grade and move on. I tried to ask for help but no one would help me. They just put me down.

After I finished school, I started working and it was fun. I did easy jobs that I did not have to read or do math. I first worked at a childcare provider and then at McDonald's. I also worked at Zeller's. When it came time to do the WHMIS testing, I did not know how to do it and I asked for help. They gave it to me but made me read out loud in front of people walking by. That made me feel so embarassed and as little as an ant. That experience made me leave the workplace.

So I was then out of a job. When I met James, he had a little boy named Austin who was 3 years old. Austin asked me to read a story to him and I said yes. When it came to a part in the story I could not read, I made up the story and he said, "That's not how it goes. Can you read it to me right?" Again I felt like a little ant because I could not even read a kid's book to him.

All my life I have wanted a good job that pays good money so I can live happily. Last year (2004) as I was driving down Dunlop St., I heard on Barrie Beat 101 that a Road to Reading festival was going on. I asked James if I could take Austin to the festival. James said, "Yes, but can I come too?" It was there I learned about the Barrie Literacy Council. The information that I got helped me make up my mind about coming to the council. When it was time to go for my assessment interview, I couldn't read the signs to get to the office. So I called on my cell phone and they guided me with the directions. When I got there I met some nice people and they set me up with a tutor. Over the period of a couple of months, my tutor has helped me improve so much on my spelling and my reading and math. I have worked through Challenger 1 and 2, and am currently working on Challenger 3.

Now I can read to Austin. I have also taken on the student group. I organize and plan the meetings, run them and make the dinners for them. Coming to the Barrie Literacy Council has built my confidence and self-esteem so much that I can now talk to the new tutors and help them understand how we learn and how we struggle with things. I used to be shy to talk to people and to ask for help. Now I can talk to people and tell them about my life, and how difficult it is to live without reading or math skills. They will probably never understand completely how I feel, until they go through it themselves or help someone that cannot do it on their own.

This makes me feel like I can take on the world - but I know I can't. However, coming to the Barrie Literacy Council has made a big change in my life. Being a bully does not make you feel good inside or help people; rather it makes people feel badly. Now people see the real me, someone who is eager to learn and wants to help others. People that knew me before say what a great big change they have noticed. My mom and dad see it too. I can't stop thanking the Barrie Literacy Council for giving me the opportunity to learn and to have a chance at a successful life.

Thanks so much to the Barrie Literacy Council.


Written by Loretta

Before I came to the Barrie Literacy Council I had a very hard time reading and spelling hard words. I couldn't even understand them. I would just give up and not try at all. The Barrie Literacy Council helps me with spelling hard words, reading, math, skills, grammar and computers.

They helped me do a resume so I can get a good job so I can get things that I need. I'm very glad that I found the Barrie Literacy Council. I like to let other people know that the Barrie Literacy Council can help others if they need it. I learn a lot because I really try hard at what I do. So some day I can teach children to read and write stories and teach them how to do sentences, math, grammar, spelling, computers, and games skills in the proper language. Also to teach them that bad words are not proper words to use anywhere and to treat others, as you would like to be treated. Also to teach them how to write poems and other things like I do. I like others to have the same chances as I have to learn things for myself. I have a plan to go for my high school diploma, not for anyone but for myself. It's very important to me.

I never got one when I graduated from high school.


The following letters were addressed to Aileen Caroll, Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament for Barrie at the time of writing.

My name is Sharon and I’ve been with the Midland Area Reading Council since 2003 for two years, but in those two years I got sick. You see Aileen back in June 2004 that’s when my world came to a halt because I had a stroke at the age of 37 but before that was a happy married woman.

I was paralyzed on my left side and lost most of my memory, and I knew if I wanted to get back to where I was I had some work ahead of me. Aileen I don’t know you but I wouldn’t wish any kind of stroke on my worst enemy not even you. It took me a long time but I came a long way but it is not because of anybody else but for the literacy council. The only problems I have now is I have to wear a brace on my left leg and I have a short term memory loss.

Aileen, today I’m still with the literacy council but the one in Barrie. I’ve been here since 2009 because of my short term memory loss I came here to the Barrie Literacy Council every day and coming here is helping me a lot Aileen. I still struggle with day to day living, but also my memory like my spelling, math, English, etc.

Aileen I came to the Barrie Literacy Council to learn and if you or the government starts taking money away from here then I won’t be able to finish my high school like I wanted and get me a job.

Aileen I’m with another gentleman because the one I was with passed away January 2007. Like I said I’m with another gentleman who has 3 loving kids but two of them don’t know how to read and neither does their father. He will be joining the Barrie Literacy Council in January. How am I supposed to read properly to them or even their father, I’m having troubles with big words and if it wasn’t for the facilitators and the MARC and the tutors I had in the past. And by the way, I’m still waiting for another tutor.

Aileen let me ask you a question if you don’t mind. Try and put yourself in our shoes here, if you didn’t know how to read or write, and you hear the government wants most of the disability people who are collecting ODSP to work and because of health issues they need to make it through the month. Like I said if you didn’t know how to read or write how on earth are you supposed to get a job? And even before all that you need to finish your grade 12.

You see Aileen if you or the government takes a huge amount out of the funding then you’re not helping the students here at the Barrie Literacy Council.

Aileen right now you and I have jobs to do. For you it’s to do with all that government stuff and for me all it learn everything I can and teach my children the proper words. So I came to you as a student and a mother. Please don’t take the money – we need it.

Student of the Barrie Literacy Council



 What the Literacy Council Means to Me

I can come in and meet with my Tutor who shows me and teaches me how to do things and how to spell and read my favourite books.

I also enjoy meeting up with my friends who also help me. Without the Literacy Council, all we have are libraries – and no teachers.

 Who will teach us to read and write?

There are many people who volunteer their time to help people like me to learn important things that I need to know. There is such a big need for a Literacy Council here. Without the program, I don’t know where we could go for the help we need. There are so many of us.

Where would we go?

The volunteers don’t cost money – we just need a place and caring people to teach us the things we need to know. I love learning to read my favourite Fairy Books and Animal books too. I need a place to go where someone will teach me to read and write.

Things I have learned at the Literacy Council:

I can now write numbers up to one hundred!!! I could never do that before!!

I can write out the months and days of the week.

My address and phone number.

I would not have learned these things if it wasn’t for the Literacy Council. There are so many more important things that I still would like to learn.

Please keep funding this program. So many people need it. It costs so little, but does so much for the community. We need your help.

Yours sincerely,
Barbara  Student
Michelle  Tutor
Barrie Literacy Council


My name is John, I am a student at the Barrie Literacy Council. I have been attending the center since May 2010. I was employed, for a long time, with a car parts manufacturing company. However, because of the economic downturn, the company I worked for went into receivership in December 2009, and I found myself out of work after 31 years.

I never finished high school and was not able to read or write very well. I was too embarrassed to let anyone know that I could not read and write and I found that searching for a job is almost impossible without those basic skills.

I decided to get help with reading and writing, but I was not able to pass the written test to enter the Barrie Learning Centre to upgrade my skills. Therefore, I had to go to the Barrie Literacy Council on 80 Bradford St., in Barrie to get the help I needed. With the assistance of the literacy center, I am now reading, writing and doing arithmetic. I have had several job interviews, and have been accepted into a local welding school to obtain my welders trade certification. My future looks brighter than before, because of the help I received from the Barrie Literacy Council. Without the literacy center, I would probably working in a minimum wage job with no future prospects and still struggling with illiteracy.

The teachers and staff at the Barrie Literacy Council are very professional. They go out of their way to make sure I am getting the skills that I need to succeed in life. The center is a valuable community asset and needs all the funding and support that it can receive, to continue to help individuals like me. Please do not cut the funding for the Barrie Literacy Council.

The literacy helped me in many different ways. They helped me when no one else did. Example: my high school just passed me through. When I first came to the Literacy Council I couldn’t even spell the simplest word, but now I can spell most of the words in this paragraph. And to be truly honest, I don’t know where I would be now without the Literacy Council.



Hi, my name is Eric and I’m writing in regard to the upcoming cuts from the literacy funding and I’m very disappointed with your government.

As a young boy to now a forty-nine year old man, I’ve struggled with reading and writing. It has been a painful and embarrassing life.

I’ve been at the Barrie Literacy Council for three months without a tutor and two and a half months with a very nice tutor. Jane, my tutor, is great and so is the staff at the learning centre. There is no pressure and this time has made me see that I will be reading and writing well some time soon. This gives me the self-esteem I so badly need. The knowledge of how to read and write is like super hero powers, need I say more?

I ask you to please keep funding in place for the literacy program. With funding in place it is good for everyone. If a person can read and write, that person can do anything. This is money well spent. I would please like a response and your personal opinion of the $60,000 cut back. Please respond.

Yours sincerely,
I came to the literacy council because I did not know how to read and write English. Now I can go shopping and read the signs to figure out what prices belong on the things I wan to get. I can write Birthday cards to my grandchildren. Learning to read and write English has been very helpful to me.

Thank you for helping to keep funding for the Barrie Literacy Council.

Yours truly,

When I was a little girl only two teachers cared about me and now I am 29 years old and all my life I thought I could not make anything of my life until I came here. The people in this council care about everyone. I thought I would not ever read or spell and I did not think I could do math. Now I can do all of them because of the teacher I have and if you cut the money they need to run this literacy program. We are not asking for a lot just enough to continue going. They really make a difference in people’s lives and you cutting it back is not good in my life so when you are making this decision think about all the lives you are going to cut back on.




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