We Wish You The Best!

posted Jul 4, 2012, 2:44 PM by Leslie Reese

Did you know that Jaye Jones originally had plans to go into the field of juvenile justice? That was before she came to Literacy Chicago as a volunteer and met June Porter, whose dedication to  supporting adult learners deeply inspired her.  At times when her graduate studies were extra challenging, Jaye said that thinking about her students’ determination to become better readers kept her on course.

During Jaye’s tribute party so many students came forward to thank her for having changed their lives.  They talked about having been afraid and angry, and not believing they were smart enough to read books. They expressed gratitude for her firm, yet, gentle encouragement; and for having faith in them.  As one student said of Jaye “You make people feel better about themselves, more important and more intelligent.”  

After the touching testimonies, however, everyone proceeded to ask Jaye questions about her education and love life!  They asked if her apartment in New York would be close to Rockefeller Center where the “Today” show is broadcast; and wondered when she planned to get married and have children. (To this she responded by saying that there was a season and reason  to do things, and she has had a long season of formal study---20 years!)  

Before she left for New York, we asked Jaye to reflect on these last five years of Reading Against the Odds.  Here are her responses:


Things she has learned from students: “Patience is a virtue; there is a lot I don't know; what/who society thinks of as "smart" is totally not reflective of reality.”

An element of [RAO's] success: “The commitment of the students and their desire to tackle and dialogue about interesting, but challenging texts.”

Something she wishes she'd known before she started the group: “I have realized that we can't read everything! There are still so many books I want to read and talk about.”

Her favorite book from the 16 RAO has read: “I have to say The Bluest Eye, because my love of that book is what led me to start RAO. It has so many layers and led to a lot of interesting reflections. However, I also enjoyed Dreams From My Father by President Obama, because it was exciting to read about his life right after he took office. Being in Chicago also meant that we could actually go to the places where he had studied and worked; it made the book more real.”

A favorite book that she has read on her own: “I am so tired of academic titles! I have been getting back into noir fiction - I love James Cain, Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block.”

A hope for the future of RAO: “That it continues, and that one day it is co-facilitated by a student.”

A reason to advocate for adult literacy: “We can't forget that everyone does not get the chance to get the education they deserve when they are younger. Adult literacy students contribute to society in so many ways and we must take the time to use and build on their knowledge. They are mothers, fathers and grandparents as well, and they have a huge impact on the lives of young people today. If we don't invest in them, I honestly believe we will be limiting the potential of future generations.”





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