University of Southern Mississippi's Adult Learning and Education
Center puts the university at the forefront of efforts to combat
illiteracy in the state while providing research opportunities in
adult education for Southern Miss students.
known as the Literacy Resource Center for Mississippi, and operated
through the governor's office, the two-year federal program was
placed under the auspices of the State Institutions of Higher Learning
(IHL) before being transferred to Southern Miss last year.
Pierce, interim dean of the Southern Miss College of Education and
Psychology and a professor of adult education at the school, said
the goal of the center is to promote adult learning and education
through three emphasis areas, including research, innovation and
research, we find out how adults learn and how we can deliver services
to adults more effectively," Pierce said. "Through innovation
we take what we learn and apply it to hand-picked programs to monitor,
and then with diffusion we come up with the best practices to recommend
the center will provide support such as staff development, teacher
education and program development.
will focus not only on models for literacy centers, but for other
adult education programs conducted by universities (such as Southern
Miss' programs in continuing education), churches, school systems
and the YMCA, among others.
the center also provides supervision for VISTA (Volunteers in Service
to America) volunteers who are working throughout the state to recruit
other volunteers who can provide reading services to adult learners.
These volunteers coordinate programs, tutor, work with nonprofit
organizations that have literacy programs and with local government
entities to provide support for the delivery of these services.
Some of these programs include GED, Welfare to Work and parenting
classes for families.
receives funding through a $50,000 grant from the Corporation for
National Service, and Pierce said other funding sources are being
pursued to operate the center.
In a state
that is often ranked at or near the bottom in adult literacy, Southern
Miss is playing a critical role in providing important educational
skills that can help Mississippians who need help to succeed as
parents, employees and members of their communities. According to
the U.S. Department of Education's National Assessment of Literacy,
Mississippi has the highest illiteracy rate in the country, with
30 percent of the state's residents unable to function at a seventh-
or eight-grade level.
(VISTA volunteers) do good work," said VISTA leader LaToya
Hart, a Southern Miss graduate who coordinates the volunteer work
of VISTA volunteers through the Adult Learning and Education Center.
"I see a lot of commitment on their part, and I believe they
are making a difference. The clients (they work with) feel like