Single Mom Improves Literacy for Better Job

picture of student and tutor
Tutor Mary Helen Boone (right) celebrates with her student

When a young single mother reached out to Craven Literacy Council to help improve her reading and writing skills as a way to get a good paying job, she had no idea how far she would go. Adult learner Denise Ellis and her tutor, Mary Helen Boone, have accomplished so much together since December 2008.

Denise faced many challenges during those years. Family issues, unemployment, an auto accident that left her with recurring bouts of pain, and finally, loss of her home to Hurricane Irene. She had to move her children from one temporary location to another over the past few years. (Fortunately, with the help of Mary Helen and her husband, Denise was finally able to find a permanent home for her family this year.)

With all these challenges, it would have been so easy to stop studying, but not Denise. Discovering through her daughters that she had a passion for working with young children, she enrolled at Pamlico Community College to work toward a certificate in Early Childhood Education. As a work-study student at PCC, she is able to work with the Smart Start Program, a pre-school educational program, which made her even more certain that she wants to help educate children. Denise has already completed two years of study at PCC and earned all B’s last semester! Now she and Mary Helen are working on the financial aid package to enable her to continue her studies.

We’ve all heard the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” That certainly describes the Denise/Mary Helen team, and we couldn’t be prouder to share their story.

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