In-person tutor training set for Tues., April 13 in Lapeer

LAPEER COUNTY — The Family Literacy Center (FLC) of Lapeer was recently a recipient of the Michigan Governor’s Service Award in the Outstanding Volunteer Organization category.

It was a fitting honor for an organization that for decades has provided educational opportunities for young adults seeking to acquire a high school diploma and accomplish more in their lives.

The accolades from the State of Michigan are appreciated and encouraging, but FLC Director Mary Shelton-Wiese said the agency’s priority continues to be Lapeer County residents who choose to better themselves through the pursuit of higher education.

“Most of our students are seeking to acquire their GEDs and to move forward with their lives,” Shelton-Wiese said. “They are looking to better themselves.

“Not having a GED can be a huge barrier to one’s success,” she said. “Our volunteer tutors can provide them the opportunity and encouragement to achieve their personal goals.”

She said FLC students tend to range in age from 16-24 and share a common desire to learn and improve their lives.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic impacted student numbers and the availability of tutors during the past year, Shelton-Wiese said there is currently an influx of young people seeking to acquire their GEDs.

“There are a lot of students waiting for tutors right now,” she said. “As a result, we are in desperate need of adding trained volunteer tutors.”

Several proud students from the FLC program are pictured with their hard-earned and much-deserved GED certificates.

Tutor training

In an effort to meet the growing demand, the Family Literacy Center is offering an in-person tutor training session on Tuesday, April 13, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the FLC offices in Lapeer.

Shelton-Wiese said registration is limited to eight volunteers, adding that social distancing and masks will be required of the trainees. Additionally, homework will be required for completion of the program.

“If you are looking for a volunteer
opportunity that will allow you to help people change and improve their lives, please contact us about this training,” Shelton-Wiese urged.

She said volunteer tutors need strong math and/or reading skills. Moreover, they must have great patience and care deeply about the student’s success.

Retired teachers have long been a key component of the program’s success, but Shelton-Wiese said previous teaching experience is not required, nor is it necessary.

“Teaching experience is a bonus,” she admitted, “but you need not be a genius to be a tutor.

“It helps to be smart, although it’s the tutor’s patience and commitment that are most important.”

GED no easy test

Though not widely known to the general public, Shelton-Wiese opined that the GED test is surprisingly challenging and difficult.

“It’s definitely not an easy test,” she said. “Most people would probably be surprised by the level of difficulty.”

She pointed out that the GED test includes four subject areas, including: (1) language arts; (2) science; (3) social studies; and (4) mathematics.

Shelton-Wiese said the faces of the GED program have changed somewhat since she started with the Family Literacy Center about 25 years ago.

“We used to get more older people in the GED program,” she recalled. “Now the students tend to be younger. “Most have either dropped out of school or didn’t graduate for various reasons.”

Regardless of their reasons for not getting their diplomas earlier, their interest in doing so now is high.

Which is when and where the Family Literacy Center staff and volunteer tutors step up to offer an assist.

Shelton-Wiese encourages anyone interested in volunteering to call the Family Literacy Center at 810-664-2737 or email or check out the FLC’s Facebook page or website at

The Family Literacy Center is located at 311 Higgins in Lapeer, MI 48446.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.