Skip to main content

Chester County Press

Editorial: The most important steps at the Kennett Library

10/24/2017 04:34PM ● By Richard Gaw
You write a sentence in your native language and it flows gracefully from the pen and onto the page. You read a paragraph in your native language and it seems like an effortless exercise. 
For the past 38 years, men and women have been entering the Kennett Library and taking the steps to its lower level, in an effort to learn what most of us take for granted every day of our lives.
Chances are that everyone who has descended and ascended those steps in an effort to improve themselves through the library's Adult Literacy Program will say that although they were among the hardest steps they have ever made, they have also been the most rewarding.
Since 1979, the ALP has provided free educational instruction to more than 7,000 adults from 55 different countries in five continents, who seek to improve their levels of English proficiency, necessary to better immerse themselves into the fabric of life in the United States.
The ALP provides English as a Second Language (ESL) and adult literacy instruction for each student to achieve the literacy levels required to become more skilled in the workplace, to communicate more effectively in the family and to participate with greater ease in the community.
Soon after Lucero Cortés (pictured above) arrived in the United States from Mexico in January 2015, she too began descending those steps at the Kennett Library. She took both English as a Second Language and GED class at the ALP, taught to her by Lorena Baeza, who was instrumental in motivating Lucero to complete all the tests for her diploma. Lucero studied further with ALP tutor Thomas Cosgrove, working for a whole year in order to successfully pass all four tests.
Recently, Lucero Cortés obtained her General Equivalency Diploma (GED), which required her to study for and pass four exams: Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and Math. She is now enrolled as a student at Delaware County Community College.
The ALP at the Kennett Library is now at a potential crossroads; due to a reorganization in funding and priorities from the federal Department of Education, the ALP no longer qualifies to receive state and federal adult education funds. The majority of its funding comes from The United Way of Southern Chester County and the library itself, as well as funding from foundations, United Way donor designations, and corporate and private donations.
We offer no apologies for idealism here, so sound the hyperbole: The truest definition of a country's greatness should not be measured in its GDP, or by the accumulation its military firepower, but by the degree to which its proverbial hand stretches out to help those in need.  The opportunities afforded to Lucero Cortés are a measure of this country's greatness; it would be nothing short of a national crime of indecency if those like Lucero are denied such opportunities in the future. For the past 38 years, the smallest sliver of our country's definition has been told in the more than 7,000 people who have descended – and ascended – those steps toward a better life at the Kennett Library. We encourage you to help them continue to make those steps. Donations to the Adult Literacy Program at the Kennett Library can be made by contacting the library at 610-444-9118.