Amber, Math Literacy

My name is Amber. My journey to improving my math literacy learning, education, employment and personals goals began when I first saw an advertisement for the Women Building Futures Program in a bus shelter. I wanted to get into their Heavy Equipment Operator Program because I am a single mom with four kids. I had moved to Edmonton from Nova Scotia and I needed a job that would help me to provide a better life for my family. I knew that it was critical that I get accepted into this program.

After writing two entrance exams, one for English proficiency and the second for math, I realized that I needed to improve my math skills, as I didn’t pass the math test. I had a disappointing 33%. I asked Women Building Futures if there were any places that could assist me, and they told me about P.A.L.S. – Project Adult Literacy Society. I was matched with two tutors almost immediately as I had to re-write my math entrance exam in two months and wanted to be prepared. One of my tutors, Iris Lee, helped me to learn all the math that was on the test. She showed me different ways to look at a problem and how to figure it out. She took her time and was patient even if I asked her the same thing twenty times. She was great! My other tutor, Nelly, helped me to stay motivated. She encouraged me to stick with my studies.

With my two tutors helping me, I attended 2 –3 math tutoring groups a week. I did this for two months, as that was my deadline to get into the Heavy Equipment Operator Program at Women Building Futures. I used to take my math binder with me everywhere. I always did my homework and managed to even do some homework at a baseball game, on the bus – anywhere I could.

After two months of intense studying, I re-wrote my math exam at the beginning of August 2009; this time with P.A.L.S. help I passed with flying colours.
I improved my grade from 33% to more than double that, at 74%. I was accepted into the Heavy Equipment Operators program and was excited to begin the program in September of 2009.

I am extremely proud of the math skills that I have gained. I now use these skills also in my daily life. Before attending P.A.L.S., I was unable to help my children with their math homework. I could not work out fractions, ratios or calculate percentages. Now, I have gained the confidence and knowledge to use math to meet not only my employment goals, but to meet my personal goals of using math to help my kids with their math homework, to grocery shopping, to understanding what is meant when they use math in news articles.

I have inspired my kids and shown them that if you put your mind to something you can get it done. They helped me to successfully complete the P.A.L.S. program. They motivated me and encouraged me to do my homework and to attend all classes. They were witnesses to my struggle and now they know what it takes to accomplish something that is meaningful and can impacted everyone.

For the past 8 months, I have been working as a certified Heavy Equipment Operator. I am now financially able to provide for my children and now, my three grandbabies. I can’t believe how much I have changed. I didn’t know if I had the aptitude to even do math but now I think that anyone can, if they are committed to their goals and have the support of loved ones. I now make myself available to P.A.L.S. to inspire other students to reach their goals by giving speeches at various events. I received a Student Recognition Certificate from P.A.L.S. in 2010 at their Student and Volunteer Recognition Celebration. I know that if I can do it, they can do it too!

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