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Central Vermont Adult Basic Education, Inc.
CVABE in the News: 2008-2009

5th Grade Student Champions the Cause of Adult Basic Education

With eloquence and poise, young Tanner Coffin once again delivered his award winning speech promoting the adult literacy cause of Central Vermont Adult Basic Education (CVABE) and encouraging his audience to support that cause through volunteerism and financial contributions.  But this time the audience needed no convincing.  CVABE’s co-director, Mary Leahy, along with two colleagues had made the trip over to Lyme, New Hampshire, to meet Tanner at his school and accept the monetary contribution his persuasive oration had already generated.

It all began with Bruce Freeberg, Tanner’s 5th grade teacher at Crossroads Academy in Lyme.  Bruce decided to coax his students with a tangible goal as they learned to write persuasive essays.  Each student was required to engage in independent research, and to choose a cause or charity to promote through writing.  Their teacher sought the advice of a Dartmouth public speaking professor who suggested the use of “Monroe’s Motivated Sequence” which was developed by Alan Monroe in the 1930’s. 

Monroe outlined a five part model, beginning with an attention grabber.  Tanner opens with a direct question to his audience: “Would you be embarrassed in our society if you could not read and were illiterate?”  He then describes what that scenario might be like.  Following Monroe’s second phase, he presents the need of “Americans who are illiterate and 21 million Americans who can’t read at all.”   He truthfully stated that, “Their problem is often unaddressed and causes them great shame.”  In step three Tanner must offer a solution, and he presents the work of Central Vermont Adult Basic Education, Inc., as a model of success worth supporting.  It is perhaps in part four that Tanner’s true gift of words emerges as he asks the audience to imagine being relieved from the bondage of illiteracy and gaining “a sense of self-worth, confidence, and a renewed interest in everyday life.”  Finally he implores his audience to support CVABE, through financial contributions or the gift of time as a volunteer.

Tanner Coffin
Mary Leahy and Tanner

The students first practiced presenting their essays as speeches with peer partners.  Later the friendly competition began and the top six were narrowed down to the top three, which were presented to a panel of Crossroad Academy faculty members.   The judges were impressed with the enthusiasm in Tanner’s words and mannerisms, and awarded him first place honors.   As the first place winner, Tanner was asked to present his speech at the school’s winter coffee house, an evening event which also included student and faculty musical and theatrical performances.  To test the power of Tanner’s persuasiveness, a hat was passed through the audience immediately following his speech to collect donations for Central Vermont Adult Basic Education, Inc.

Tanner lives in West Fairlee, Vermont—a community which benefits directly from the free education services offered by CVABE through its center in Bradford.  Tanner’s mother contacted Linda Shilling-Burhans, the CVABE teacher in Bradford, who in turn passed the news along to CVABE’s main office in Barre, Vermont.  CVABE has served Orange, Washington and Lamoille Counties for over 40 years, providing free literacy instruction for adults and out of school youth in the belief that a person who is literate has the essential key for self understanding and for full and active membership in the world.   700 - 800 enroll annually for individual tutoring in basic reading, writing, and math; English as another language, high school completion and preparation for work or college. Community volunteers help extend the organization's outreach and continuation of local service.  Co-director Mary Leahy wanted to accept the donation from Tanner in person, and a meeting was arranged at his school in Lyme.

From a make-shift music stand podium in his classroom, Tanner delivered his speech to the CVABE representatives.  Also present were his 5th grade peers, his mother, and his younger sister.  Tanner then presented Mary Leahy with the donations collected at the coffee house, as well as a personal contribution from Tanner himself.  Tanner had opted to present CVABE with a donation in honor of his Head of School, Jean Behnke.  In the accompanying letter he writes, “Together, with the help of this donation, we can make a difference.  It might be one word at a time, one page at a time or one book at a time, but I know we can do it!”

(Click here for the full text of Tanner’s speech)


First Time Voting in USA

Armina is a student at our Montpelier Learning Center. With her young daughter, she moved to Vermont from Bosnia in 2001 to join her husband and his mother who had arrived in 1999. In 2006 she and her mother-in-law, Adila, became citizens of the United States. This November, at the town hall in Middlesex, they cast their first votes as US citizens. Marcie, Armina’s CVABE teacher and fellow Middlesex resident, accompanied them to the polls. They were introduced to Senator Leahy and his wife who had also come to cast their votes.
Armina says her most important vote was that for President of the United States.


Armina and Adila after casting their first US votes.
photo courtesy of Jeannette Wulff, Middlesex News




first vote
The World
Jim Thompson

People in the News

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jim Thompson Joins Central Vermont Adult Basic Education, Inc.

Jim Thompson of Montpelier has recently become the new Volunteer/Communications Coordinator for Central Vermont Adult Basic Education, Inc. (CVABE) in Barre. Jim comes to CVABE after completing a 21-year career at the Union Elementary School in Montpelier. In his position at CVABE, Jim will be taking on the tasks involved with raising local awareness of education programs for adults and teens, promoting and supervising of volunteer systems, and collaborating with development efforts. His job will include creating and implementing communication plans, website maintenance, database management, and producing promotional materials and publications. Jim joins CVABE in its effort to reach out to Central Vermont communities, making the organization’s service as widely known as possible to both potential students and to volunteers who would join in the movement toward full literacy in this region.

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