Reading, It’s Life!

Tutor Talks – Persevering to Succeed

i Mar 4th No Comments by

We invited ALTA tutors to share their adult literacy volunteer experience and continue our series of articles that capture these candid discussions. In this segment, ALTA tutor Nicole Pichery and fellow volunteer Nichole Lancaster speak about some of the obstacles that students face.

Nichole is one of our experienced tutors teaching adults at both level one and level two. She is also a Youth Lit tutor and coordinator.

Nicole P.: So, Nichole how long have you been with ALTA?

Nichole L.: I’ve been with ALTA nine years now and I’m on my tenth year.

Nicole P.: That is certainly a long time to be with ALTA. You must have a passion for it. When we get into the ALTA classroom, we really don’t want to leave, we get so attached. Can you share some of your student experiences from the classroom?

Nichole L.: I remember one of the students telling me “Miss, I never thought I would be able to do a crossword.” And I said, “Yes? How did you find it was?” He said “I was really excited! I’m ready to go and do every crossword puzzle that I see.”

As a teacher you aim to give them that inspiration, that willingness to just go and conquer. That’s really what you want to do because they come in feeling they are failures. When I help them succeed at one thing, two things, three things they realize that this learning to read and write is not so difficult after all and most importantly, I am not a “failure.”

Nicole P.: That is so important. Does it take long for students to adjust in your classroom?

Nichole L.: It usually doesn’t take long. I am thinking of one of my students Deborah who, though she started late into the academic year, just fell right in. It’s like that space was open and waiting for Deborah to come and fit in. She came with that spirit of camaraderie, willingly assisting fellow students with their work. This is the case with many students as we foster an environment of cooperative rather than competitive learning.

Nicole P.: What do you think are the biggest obstacles that students have to overcome to step into the ALTA classroom?

Nichole L.: Their ego – they should commit to talking themselves into doing what needs to be done. They have to say “Listen, there is help out there for me and I can be a part of it and enrich my life to be a better person if I can read and write better.” Essentially doing some self-talk and letting go of the shame. That’s the main obstacle that students have to face before they enter into the ALTA class.

Nicole P.: Nichole, before we go, do you have any words of advice to share?

Nichole L.: My words of advice to tutors would be, let’s continue to work toward building stronger citizens. To the students – present students, I would like you to persevere. You are not a failure. True success lies within you. And to those students who are thinking about coming to ALTA, I want to tell you “Just come, just take that step into the class.”

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA Tutor Talks: Collaborative Learning

i Feb 25th No Comments by

In last week’s segment, ALTA tutor Nicole Pichery and fellow volunteer Joseann Jemmott spoke about the initial student experience and breaking the ice in the classroom. This week, they continue to explore the ALTA classroom and interpersonal relationships.

Nicole: What are some of the resources that our students have to help them learn?

Joseann: We have the ALTA Workbook, which is full of lovely lessons relevant to our students’ everyday lives, each one beginning with a reading passage. We have the phonics cards which practise the sounds of the letters. Students also use sight word cards to practise recognising words that we use every day. So, what you find is that a student will come and say, “You know I saw the word ‘open’ on a lot of shops.” We review our cards at the beginning of each class.

Nicole: When students join the ALTA programme, it’s amazing to see the transformation that occurs between when they come in on Day One and when the academic year ends. What changes do you see in your students?

Joseann: In first term, I would say that you get to know each other really quickly. The students encourage each other, and when it’s time to transition to the second term, you will often hear, “I hope to see you. I hope to see you coming back.” They’ll remark “Miss, I’m not seeing this person. Call this person.”

Students may even exchange numbers, and become accountable to one another. When they don’t see a student, they inquire. There’s genuine care for each other in the classroom. Students know that someone cares. It drives the tutor to come every single time. Seeing that students want to learn and that they support each other, how can I not be there to be that support for them?

Nicole: So, Joseann, you talked about the relationship that these students have with each other in the classroom. I have experienced students starting off very timid and shy, but at the end of the year, they are really encouraging each other. Returning students encourage and support new students telling their classmates, “You can learn it” and building camaraderie. Have you had that experience?

Joseann: Definitely Nicole. Seeing the students help each other is one of the things that really motivates me. They enjoy figuring things out together. The thing is, you will have some who are strong in some areas and others who are not as strong and they complement each other. They often gravitate towards that person. “OK, you don’t understand this? Let’s learn!”

A student comes to mind. This student is really effective at drawing students together and helping them. It’s always, “Learn phonics − phonics is the main thing you need to learn. Phonics is at the centre of this. It’s important to learn phonics and the sight words!” “Don’t forget your sight words!” So, you know, they are aware of the importance of what strengthens their learning. As they begin to understand the phonic code, the relationship between sounds and letters, as tutors we continue to make the links for our students, “Now that we know these phonics, we’ll can spell these words,” and so on. It helps them to understand.

Nicole: The encouragement and reminders classmates give to one another are so important to our adult learners. The ALTA classroom is a collaborative environment.

Joseann: ALTA creates a really beautiful dynamic. ALTA is a beautiful programme!

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA Tutor Talks: Inside the classroom

i Feb 18th No Comments by

We invited ALTA tutors to share their adult literacy volunteer experience and continue our series of articles that capture these candid discussions. In this segment, ALTA tutor Nicole Pichery and fellow volunteer Joseann Jemmott speak about the ALTA student experience.

Nicole: What has been the student experience in the ALTA classroom?

Joseann: From the get go, or the jump as the young people would say, it’s about showing them open handedness and sharing stories. As the tutor, we lead the way in expressing why we chose ALTA and how dedicated we are to teaching and to learning. Students feed off of that energy. They also share their own stories of how or why their ALTA journey began. And when we start sharing, we open this mutual rapport – we understand that we are all in this together. Students then feel free to come and say, “Miss, this is an area that I really, really need more work on.”

Nicole: Sharing stories is important. Do you remember any stories that really touched you?

Joseann: There are many stories, but at the core is often a lack of support and the need to overcome fear. We always hear “I always wanted to come to ALTA, but I was ashamed” or “I was afraid” or “I didn’t want this one to know.”

When I hear them say, “I decided today and I just walk in.” I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’m so happy for you” and we give them a round of applause because they are jumping over a huge hurdle to step into that ALTA classroom. So, we hype them up as much as possible to let them know that we are here for them.

Nicole: I love that when they come in, you are there to support them and give them that encouragement. That in itself can improve their self-esteem and their self-worth, because we hear so many stories, especially about shame. We see students very hesitant to step in the door, so much so that tutors have to encourage them to come in.

One of the things that I’ve recognized with my students, Joseann, is that when they come in, they are afraid to talk to each other and afraid to speak and they speak very softly. Once they recognize that some of the other students in class have the same challenges that they do, they tend to open up. Has that been your experience in your level one classroom?

Joseann: Yes. My classroom is a welcoming space where returning students encourage new students when they come in. It’s like, “Hey, sit here”, “Don’t go so far”, “You don’t need to go to the back”, “Come to the front”. They encourage each other and it’s really just one day of shyness. By the next class, everybody’s just talking and getting to know each other.

Nicole: You break the ice very early. And as we mention breaking the ice, one of the things that we have in the classroom is games. Tell us something about the student experiences when it comes to the ALTA games.

Joseann: The games complement the teaching in previous lessons. I tend to make it really competitive because I’m a competitive tutor. So, we will have an “A” side and we will have a “B” side where we have the other tutor choosing the “B” side and we will see who will get it first. There are some exciting card games that complement the lessons well, like Snatch and Bingo.

Nicole: I like that you mentioned Bingo because we also play Word Bingo in our beginner classroom and that is something that they love. You call out the sight word, they look for it and cover it if their card has the word, and then they shout out “BINGO” when they cover all the words on their card.

Joseann: Oh yes, they need to shout bingo! They need to be loud in my class. Games help build their confidence. It’s always “Next time you can beat me” or “I’ll win next time.” It’s nice to have a little picong in the classroom and also strive to win the game. In order to win, you also need to learn.

Nicole: It’s amazing to see how excited our students get and we know that ALTA really stresses the importance of playing games to reinforce learning in the ALTA classroom. So, it’s a really exciting time when the formal lessons have come to an end and it’s game time.

Nicole and Joseann’s chat continues next week.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

Tutor Talks: Supporting Students’ Virtual Journey

i Feb 11th No Comments by

We invited ALTA tutors to share their adult literacy volunteer experience and continue our series of articles that capture these candid discussions. In Part 2, ALTA tutor Nicole Pichery and fellow volunteer Chela Bhimull speak about student support in the current climate.

Nicole: How would you help students overcome that fear when they sign up for ALTA classes?

Chela: The first step in helping students is allaying possible and potential fears. It’s creating a safe space in the form of a virtual classroom where interaction can flow. First of all, I like having structure. So it’s about having a system in place that allows the student to log on to the class and participate in class communication. The difference with face-to-face teaching and a virtual classroom is that you need to have a little more insight into your virtual classroom student. I mean, what can work in a physical setting where you can observe behaviour and speak individually to one student as you move around the classroom is not possible in a virtual setting.

Being a successful tutor means that you need to know your students. You have to be able to reach out to them, to recognize an issue and try to address it because there is no one size fits all – it’s about the individual. It requires dedication and selflessness at times as students face many challenging situations.

If you recognize a problem, you can start by identifying what’s going on with the individual. Is it software? Is it the internet connection? Is it the physical space they are in? Having a quiet space where you can actually receive your teaching without any sort of background disruptions was one of Alta’s recommendations to its virtual students.

Is it an issue of financial hardship? This has been an issue for some of my students. As you know, during the pandemic things were pretty rough with regard to jobs and the availability of financial assistance. So as a tutor, you need to be able to recognize what’s wrong with your students and then reach out to them to help as best you can.

At the end of the day, your best bet towards overcoming a student’s fear is kindness towards the student and sometimes an encouraging word. A listening ear is also helpful as in some instances, this is their first time in a computer literate world, that is, using a device, Zoom or WhatsApp.

Nicole: That is really good advice, especially when it comes to the matter of applying emotional intelligence, and trying to help students so that they can stay focused on their learning. Chela, you have helped us to understand the ALTA-V environment. And we thank you for taking up that challenge and working with our students in the ALTA-Virtual classroom.

Chela: Thank you and thanks to my fellow tutors for helping me on my journey.

ALTA is passionate about teaching adults to read. In their commitment to serve, they have partnered with schools, community centres, churches and libraries across Trinidad to bring literacy classes to communities, making it easy for individuals to sign up.

Covid-19 brought many challenges as well as opportunities that forced us to find new ways of helping students continue learning. This has given birth to the ALTA-V classroom. Covid-19 has thrust us unceremoniously into a new virtual teaching and learning environment.

The ALTA-V programme has adapted teaching methods to a virtual environment reaching a new student audience: those with smart devices who can now attend virtual classes using Zoom with a trained ALTA-V tutor. ALTA-V allows our students to sign up and continue learning right from the comfort of their home.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

Tutor Talks: Bridging the Virtual Gap

i Feb 4th No Comments by

We invited ALTA tutors to share their adult literacy volunteer experience. Today, begins a series of articles that capture these candid discussions. In addition to tutors’ perspectives, the conversations also included insights from a student’s point of view. In part 1, ALTA tutor Nicole Pichery shapes the discussion with fellow volunteer Chela Bhimull on adaptations made to accommodate virtual learning in the face of the pandemic.

Nicole: Chela, you have had the opportunity to teach ALTA’s face-to-face classes and ALTA-V. Like many of our tutors, you had to quickly adjust to teaching virtually when our classes were closed suddenly in 2020 because of Covid. So tell us about that first experience of converting from face to face to teaching ALTA virtual classes.

Chela: I try to look for the best in every situation and my ALTA-V experience was a positive one. On 13th March 2020, the ALTA San Fernando office sent an email to us tutors saying that classes would be placed on hold because of the pandemic. What happened in the background was that the regional coordinators worked assiduously to coordinate an effort of virtual teaching, organizing and coordinating us tutors with our classes to continue the ALTA programme by way of whatever device possible.

ALTA also adapted and customized our usual workbook lessons into a format that we could disseminate with our students. We were advised to create WhatsApp group chats with our students and then to use Zoom, which in itself was a challenge.

I consider myself very fortunate to be able to lead the way in terms of creating a virtual classroom for my students, who were very grateful for the experience. They showed a mix of emotions because, as you know, with all new things, there’s always a learning curve. We were also very lucky in that most of my students had devices. I know this was a bigger challenge for some other tutors.

So some of my students had a smartphone, which was very, very helpful. One had a laptop and one had a tablet. And from that we were able to start by using WhatsApp on the smartphone, and then switch to Zoom on whatever device they had.

In order to begin, I had to share with my class how to access the Zoom application, and then how you use some of the Zoom features, like “mute,” “raise hand” or “hello”. Also how to use the chat features and to some extent the whiteboard.

What really helped my ALTA students was family and peer support. They were often guided by their children. One student was guided by his eight-year-old nephew (who I have my eye on as a future Alta tutor by the way). I remember the eight year old: “Uncle. No, no, no, no. Wait for Miss to send you the link and you have to log on.” and “Quiet – don’t talk in class!” He was guiding his uncle in the protocols of the Zoom classroom.

Nicole: I love that! That is quite a lot that you had to do to get your students to start learning virtually. Our tutors and students who rose to the challenge have to be commended.

Chela: I agree with you. During the pandemic it was not easy for them in terms of financial difficulties, technical difficulties. So having a classroom setting by way of ALTA helped alleviate fears, and allowed them to focus on their lessons which is what I can say made our class a success.

Nicole: Right. Some students may be fearful of using a computer for the first time or using Zoom for the first time. We are often afraid to show our faces on camera. So, Chela, tell us, were there challenges with ALTA-V and how did your students adapt to the virtual world?

Chela: I think the biggest challenge with my students was actually getting across the hurdle of using Zoom. We had students who were tech savvy, but we had a few mature students who were not used even to being in a chat room, far less using Zoom. So we had to do some handholding in terms of allaying fears, providing that reassurance that we’re all in this together and this is about learning.

It’s about providing that support, that level of mentorship. Eventually they got it. It wasn’t an easy journey, especially for one of my students who had to share a smartphone with members of her family. So she was not always in class at the designated hours.

Then there was another individual who had a sporadic internet connection. We made up for what couldn’t work by way of WhatsApp, and when that couldn’t work, we made up for it by going back to the traditional phone.

It’s about getting the message across – and we will find a way literally and virtually to get it done.

Nicole and Chela’s discussion on ALTA-V continues next week.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

Does my child have dyslexia?

i Jan 28th No Comments by

This week we had the opportunity to chat with Cathryn Kelshall, Chairman of the Dyslexia Association of Trinidad and Tobago. Cathryn provided answers to two of the most commonly asked questions by parents about dyslexia.

How can I tell if my child is dyslexic?

What we’re looking at is unexpected reading failure. Dyslexia is a specific difficulty with learning to read, write and spell. How it presents itself will depend on the severity of the dyslexia. So, if your child’s dyslexia is very severe, you’ll begin to see trouble early on; learning letter shapes, rhyming.

If it’s not that severe, then your child may be able to cope well with the Infant 1 and Infant 2 classes where they are just learning very phonetic words like bat and hat, but begin to fall apart when things get a little more difficult, like in Standard 1 where those horrible English words, like though and through and thorough begin to come into the curriculum.

Some dyslexics lag in speech development as well. You may notice near-miss words, like “wiv” for “with”, or “shovel” for “shuffle”.

Because dyslexics have difficulty with direction and sequencing, older children may continue to reverse letters and numbers, may have difficulty telling the time, tying their shoe laces, and learning sequences such as the alphabet, the months of the year, and tables.

Sometimes the difficulty is with oral sequencing, like, for instance:

  • saying “hostipal” instead of “hospital”, or “pasghetti” instead of “spaghetti;”
  • or for little ones sounding out words like, “t-o-p,” but saying “pot” because the children can’t hold on to the sequence of the sounds long enough to get the word out.

Dyslexics can also be very talented with the right brain skills like building puzzles or art. Very often they have extraordinary problem-solving skills and come up with creative or novel solutions for problems, so you may see a great disparity of ability. They may know the answers in the Science or Social Studies class, may be the first to raise their hand, but have enormous difficulty getting those thoughts on paper. Spelling can be quite bizarre!

What do you do?

It is important to get help early.

  • Don’t wait for a test. Do get hearing and vision screened to make sure that’s not part of the problem.
  • Contact the Dyslexia Association and let them put you in touch with a teacher who specifically trained to teach dyslexics.
  • If you need more information, you can go to The Dyslexia Association website,, to find out lots more.
  • Phone the Association at 281-7323 (READ) for a chat or referral to a tutor near you who can conduct a screening test, and tutor your child.
  • Finally, remove that blame! Your child isn’t dyslexic because they want to be, it’s as difficult for them as it is for you.

We thank Cathryn for providing us with this useful information about dyslexia and we hope that our readers were enlightened by it. Resources are just a call or click away.

The Dyslexia Association has been a valued partner since ALTA’s inception. Many dyslexic adults did not get the help they needed during their school years, and ALTA can fill this gap as we use methods designed for teaching dyslexics. To sign up for ALTA-V in your home, on your computer or smartphone call 341-8668.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

Simply amazing!

i Jan 21st No Comments by

The ALTA-V classroom allows our students to sign up and continue learning from the comfort of their own home. ALTA tutors and students have just concluded the first term and we have just started the second term of ALTA-V for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Level 1 ALTA student Deborah Wilson shared her ALTA-V experience with our tutors and our wider audience during a tutor talk episode last October.

During our web interview, Deborah stated that she joined ALTA knowing that she had a reading disorder stemming from a head trauma. During her early school days, she always found it challenging to perform to the level of her peers.

Over the years as her children were acquiring literacy skills at school, she’d try to learn a few things from them. There was even some reading intervention from a helpful teacher prior to finding out about ALTA.

Deborah has always had a desire to achieve more, so when one of her fellow church members reached out to her to tell her about ALTA classes, she was ecstatic. In her own words she “jumped for joy!”

Deborah started out quite nervous about classes, as many adult literacy students tend to be. That’s when her tutor stepped in to reassure her that everyone was there to “learn and grow” and there was nothing to be scared or nervous about. It was at that point that Debra said she became very eager to learn as much as possible.

Deborah praised her ALTA tutors – in her experience, they are “simply amazing!” She found them to be filled with knowledge, patience, understanding and motivation. They continue to help her to acquire the level of competence with reading and writing that she has always wanted.

Deborah enthusiastically assures other potential students who have ever wondered about the ALTA environment and interacting with tutors: “They give you the energy to continue to learn more.”

If you know someone who would like to improve their literacy skills, share our telephone numbers with them. Become an ALTA messenger today and like, comment and share our content on social media every time it appears in your feed. Together we can continue raising awareness of literacy as a skill and reducing the stigma attached to low literacy.

To sign up for ALTA-V in your home, on your computer or smartphone call 341-8668.

Stand Tall… We are ALTA.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

ALTA-V resumes this week!

i Jan 14th No Comments by

ALTA-V welcomes current students, new students and past students to term 2. Having successfully completed an entire term of virtual teaching using ALTA-V, this week we feature our tutor voices writing about our new ALTA-V option for adult literacy learners.

Elaine Balliram
I’m a first-time tutor and found that the students were very responsive and engaged in all the sessions. I felt the students understood the lessons taught and were not shy in asking for further explanation. I truly enjoyed the experience.

June Marcano
I believe that the students felt more comfortable in their home environment without the hassle of getting to the physical classroom (despite the distractions and challenges) and were able to give of their best given the circumstances. I too embraced the convenience.

I was able to see great improvement with my students in reading individually and in applying the particular skills taught.

When it came to challenges, we took on whatever came on the day and worked around it. Overall I was pleased with the efforts.

Chela Bhimull
ALTA-V was an overall good experience. Students were coached as to how to use Zoom in term 3 of the last academic year and new students were also on-boarded. Returning students seemed happy to be back at ALTA – though the environment was new and different.

ALTA-V offered convenience to both students and tutors. Two students were able to work around their work schedules to attend class. Our Tobago student comes off a shift and attends class an hour late, but he is there trying his best.

The class has a good camaraderie. Sometimes the home environment was helpful. One new student who was unsettled in the classroom, with the help of his mother, calmed down and now pays attention to do his work.

There were a few challenges. We immediately address background noise. Though noise still filters through, it is manageable. Faulty internet during rain and connectivity interruptions do pose a problem, but because tutors work in a team this does not interfere with lesson delivery. I am grateful to have two other tutors who ably and smoothly jump in when my connection falters.

Virtual teaching has its pros and cons. It requires patience, creativity and dedication. It’s a labour of love. I personally prefer virtual to physical because of its convenience and time management.

Sharon Diptee
While I like the idea of being able to work from home, I much prefer face-to-face teaching because I feel that I’ll get more out of the students and be better able to evaluate them.

That said, the students are attentive and we have very interactive sessions. There were severe challenges with poor internet access and audio. There were times when we were unable to hear the students. As a first attempt at the virtual teaching/learning, I think the experience was wonderful, despite the challenges. And I learned to use Zoom! Congratulations to Alta for a job well done.

To our students, volunteer tutors, Regional Coordinators – thanks for making ALTA-V term 1 a success. Feedback from our Regional Coordinator Meeting last week confirms that ALTA-V classes have overcome any initial problems, have protocols in place and are managing the teaching environment well with smooth transitions from screen sharing and using breakout rooms to meet individual needs. ALTA-V is all set for term 2 and inviting new and past adult learners back to improve their literacy.

Stand Tall… We are ALTA.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

Our ALTA-V Classroom

i Jan 8th No Comments by

This first article of 2021 is a landmark for ALTA as it is the 400th article in our regular Thursday column! It is thus fitting that we feature our tutor voices and our new ALTA-V option for adult literacy learners.

Our ALTA-V classroom enables students to sign up and learn from the comfort of home. During the month of January, ALTA-V is welcoming new students and we invite you to tell others of this opportunity, especially if you know any adults (16 and over) who may need to improve their reading, writing and spelling skills.

Some may be hesitant to try a virtual class, and these fears may be allayed by sharing some of the ALTA-V feedback from our tutors. ALTA tutors and students have concluded the first ALTA-V term and we are happy to say that tutors and students worked together to resolve any issues and reported a positive experience.

Monica Richards
I find the online tutoring really worked out very well. The students were attentive and co-operative. This form of distance learning is effective.

Earl Providence
As a first-time ALTA teacher, the experience was great. We encountered the challenges that were expected with persons being unable to comfortably use the Zoom system along with sometimes poor internet and a lot of background noise. Gradually however, there was some improvement, and I look forward to the new term.

Sherma Riley-Springer
The ALTA-V experience was new but a fulfilling one despite the challenges of internet connectivity and students encountering problems to log back in. By the end, most of them became quite technologically comfortable in the environment.

It was clear at the end of the term that those who stayed the course were showing improvement, and were more confident in themselves and their application of what was taught.

At first in some instances, family members wanted to do the work for students and give the answers to them when doing the exercises, with some even quarrelling with them if they got it wrong. With guidance, we sorted it out and the students were able to become relaxed in the environment.

Tutors worked together to counteract connectivity inconsistencies by picking up and inputting as needed when any tutor’s connection became unstable. As a tutor one had to be creative and very patient – as always in teaching and helping students.

Although it was my first time doing the virtual style of teaching, I absolutely loved it and found the convenience of operating from home made it more manageable. The students who stayed the course have mentioned their excitement to return in the new term.

Pauline Dowlath
The virtual ALTA experience was a good one although lessons took more prep time in order to improve learning via visuals. Students were involved and generally understood what was taught. Some returning students’ really improved attendance in the virtual class, though there were others who continued to be unable to attend regularly. New students showed keen interest and attendance!

To our students, volunteer tutors, Regional Coordinators – welcome back to ALTA-V!

Stand Tall… We are ALTA.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: ALTA TT

Thank you from ALTA!

i Dec 31st No Comments by

As we take stock of our blessings and reminisce on a very challenging year, we know that we have much to be thankful for. We would like to take this opportunity to send New Year’s greetings to and thank all the individuals and companies who have contributed generously to Alta and our vision of bringing positive social change through improved literacy.

Firstly to our volunteer tutors, our class coordinators, Regional Coordinators and National Coordinator Lystra Hazarie, we thank you for going above and beyond for our ALTA students. This past year was a true test of your calibre as the pandemic threw out a major challenge with the closing of all classrooms on Friday 13 March.

But you persevered and wrestled with the obstacles and new learning involved in virtual Alta teaching to ensure that as many students as possible had almost uninterrupted instruction. You showed in exemplary fashion the commitment and dedication that has brought you respect and high regard among both students and staff.

Secondly, to our sponsors, both individuals and companies who continued to support ALTA despite the many competing needs in this difficult year, we are most grateful! ALTA has come to rely on the regular contributions of individuals who give either $600/year to sponsor an ALTA student or an open donation through a deed of covenant.

Our main corporate sponsors deserve specific mention:

  • Republic Bank Sponsorship of Alta classes, Reading Circles and software development for ALTA Online. This commitment got ALTA Online to users in 2020 just when it was most needed when in-person institutions of learning were shut down.
  • National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Funding for the I Am ALTA literacy awareness and student registration campaign along with the ALTA Online pilot was critical to bring ALTA-V and ALTA Online to those with literacy challenges.
  • Bermudez Biscuit Company Limited An annual donation helps keep our three offices and our programmes running. Sponsorship of NALIS/ALTA Youth Lit brings the ALTA literacy programme to teens and pre-teens.
  • Fernandes Foundation provided a capacity-building grant.
  • Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited has sponsored the ALTA Couva class for many years and in January 2020, also selected ALTA’s tutor training programme for their Gift to the Nation. This enabled ALTA to develop a new virtual tutor training programme which comprised three separate delivery modes: ALTA Online tutor Training Book; ALTA tutor training videos – How to Teach an ALTA lesson; Zoom training led by a facilitator for a mixed group of 6-7 new and experienced tutors.
  • Price Philanthropies, Charlett & Gatcliffe, Southern Wholesale Stores, CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, Trinity Exploration, Rotary Club of Maracas/St Joseph, Trinidad Offshore Fabrication Company (TOFCO) supported ALTA/ALTA-V classes, the core work of ALTA.

We also wish to thank our staff and the key members of the ALTA Online team. ALTA Online would not have reached literacy learners in 2020 without the pro bono effort of two experts: application support engineer Sylvia Clarke and New York based software developer Matthew Williams. Both Sylvia and Matthew provide essential expertise that ALTA cannot afford. They have shown a remarkable dedication to making ALTA Online work, giving countless hours of their very valuable time and often working into the wee hours of the morning. Along with software developer Jovaughn Smith, Sylvia and Matthew have lead and guided the small team of OJT trainees to make the dream of ALTA Online a reality.

Our thanks also go to all who took the time to like, comment and share our social media content. You have been instrumental in allowing us to continue raising awareness of literacy as a skill and reducing the stigma attached to low literacy.

To the editors at the Trinidad Guardian newspapers, we are appreciative of your continued support in having our articles published every Thursday.

We look forward to the New Year which will be a big year for ALTA with the launch of ALTA Online. Happy New Year to all our readers!

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email

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