“I could read, but I didn’t like it,” she said. “I avoided it as much as possible. In school, I always hoped I wouldn’t be called on. I thought if I looked at the floor, maybe the teacher wouldn’t see me. It worked.”
Ms. Swanson recalled her story for the Literacy Council of Tyler’s annual donor appreciation luncheon on Wednesday.
“People who come to the Literacy Council are people who choose to rise above their circumstances,” Michelle Brookshire, donor luncheon chairwoman, said.
Ms. Swanson, 45, enrolled in the eight-week GED prep class, and she spoke of the encouragement from her teacher, Rick Swain.
“He said, ‘Read everything you can get your hands on and ask yourself, ‘What did I just read?’” she said.
“I now love reading,” she said. “I learned not only to be a strong leader but also a strong person.”
Building that strength is one of the literacy council’s biggest missions.
“Through the simple blessing of education, we can instill dignity in the lives of others,” Mrs. Brookshire said.
The nonprofit served more than 2,300 students last year, Mike Starr, 2012 board president, said. About 50 percent of East Texans read below an eighth-grade reading level, and 25 percent read below a fifth-grade level.
“I can’t tell you how many Cassandras there are in East Texas,” Nancy Crawford, executive director, said.