ALTA Trailblazers – Yvonne

i Jul 15th No Comments by

Our Trailblazer series celebrates the students who in ALTA’s first
decade braved the stigma of low literacy to speak publicly of their ALTA

Here’s the conclusion of the 1990s interview with Yvonne Greenidge,
whose primary school education was disrupted by the need to work alongside her
mother and then came to an abrupt halt due to a serious head injury when she
was struck by a car at age eight.   

Reading can benefit you – in, out and for yourself

I want to read my Bible and I now have a verse I read for
myself.  When I see the big word, I could
pick out one or two parts from it and try to make up the word. 

My husband say how a big old woman like me go to class, and make me
feel kind of embarrassed.  He had me
feeling kind of down and I almost stop the class.  But my teacher encourage me and say, “Don’t
worry with him, do this for yourself.”

I don’t know if he can read – he cannot read the whole thing. 
But he putting out he does read and mamaguying me in some part you
know.  He most probably could read a
little more than me, but it doesn’t look like he could read plenty because when
I test him with my work he does kind of spell it, you know. 

I like to continue with the class as long as God give me health and
strength because when you go out, you could take the paper they handing out and
take shame out of you eye and say something so they won’t know directly you
can’t read. 

I would like to build up myself. The reading can benefit to you in,
out and for yourself.

I appreciate this class a lot and I does pray for the teachers to
have more faith and strength, and encourage them to keep coming.

Where is Yvonne now?

Yvonne is proud to say she has been with ALTA longer than any other
student – which is true!

She also says that ALTA CEO Paula Lucie-Smith, who taught Yvonne in
her early years at ALTA, started the Reading Circle for her – which is also
true. The accident has had long lasting effects on Yvonne’s memory making
visual recognition of words unreliable, so although perseverance got her as far
as Level 2, she needed ongoing support and practice to maintain her skills.

In 2004, Yvonne’s needs became the inspiration for ALTA Reading
Circles where guides support individuals and small groups to practise the
skills learnt in the classroom as they read high-interest, low-reading-level
books. Another trail blazed!  

For several years, Yvonne attended both class and Reading Circle,
then transitioned to attending the two POS Reading Circles, so was at ALTA
three times a week until her mid-seventies. She scaled down to two sessions and
then as 80 approached, she decided she was ready to officially retire. In part,
this was prompted by weakening eyesight due to diabetes.  

Paula Lucie-Smith has this to say about Yvonne. “Throughout the 30
years I have known Yvonne, I have been impressed by both the effort she puts
into whatever she takes on and her openness to new experiences. Having never
left the country or ever had a passport before, Yvonne willingly accompanied me
to a student/tutor literacy conference in St Lucia in 1994.

But what is most striking about Yvonne is her big heart and her
enduring interest in the wellbeing of others. Once she discovered ALTA, she
wanted to share this with others and she spread the word of ALTA up and down
her hill, not just in official media appearances for ALTA.

She became a one-woman welcoming committee for new students joining
her class at ALTA and chief organiser of the end-of-term class party, where she
would lead the thanks to tutors and express her joy in ALTA – not just in words but with her signature dance of praise and
thanks. She would always say, ‘ALTA is family’, and she both lived this and
helped to shape this.

Yvonne is a mother in the Baptist church and she became a mother to
all at ALTA – students and tutors. Neither her generous spirit nor joy in
living has been dampened in the slightest by poverty and the hard knocks of
life. The end-of-term class party is a fixture throughout ALTA, and her spirit
of giving has infused ALTA.”     

now lives contentedly in ALTA retirement at the grand age of 80, still very
much connected to her ALTA family and she will ever be an ALTA advocate.

you or someone you know is interested in
joining an ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA Online
Level 1 or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

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