Break new ground. Leave no stone unturned. Turn the tide...

What do the phrases above have in common?

If your answer is that all three are examples of idioms, then you are correct! Yes, these are all idioms, expressions that have meanings that often cannot be deduced directly from the individual words in the saying. But these phrases also illustrate how Literacy Services of Wisconsin and our students have endured the many challenges of this past year and how we, together with your help, are building momentum for the future.

We piloted a new program over the summer, a High School Equivalency Diploma program for English Learners (HSED-EL). In this first-ever offering, our ELL students were truly breaking new ground! The eleven graduates from this pilot program are trailblazers. Cecilia and Gilbert are two of these ground-breaking students:

Cecilia – “After having my 4 children, I never stopped looking for opportunities, especially for my children. I would like them to follow my example and see that in life there are goals that can be achieved with effort, and that is how I decided to look for schools to finish high school and obtain my diploma. I would like to continue studying and obtain my nursing or social worker diploma.”

Gilbert – “When I started at LSW I could not speak even a word of English. Sometimes I didn’t understand anything when someone spoke to me, but I worked hard, and the teachers helped me to learn to speak and write. They also helped me to get my driver’s license. I believe I have learned a lot at LSW.”

Adult literacy education is our sole focus at LSW and we are passionate about it! One of our four new Guiding Principles is Courageous Thinking and we are living that principle each day. We have left no stone unturned in our quest to provide adult education services to the whole of our community. In addition to our longstanding Adult Education and English Language Learning programs that have been the foundation of our organization for over 55 years, we have also courageously added numerous contextualized HSED classes (HSED-EL being just one of them) as well as a Corrections Adult Education program. Looking forward to the coming year, we will continue to overturn stones as we launch a citizenship program and open an in-house GED testing center!

There is a great demand for adult education programming in our community. A literate community is a more equitable and vibrant community! Adult education services should be available to all, be it our family members, our friends, our co-workers, or our neighbors down the street or across town. As we continue to further develop our comprehensive services, our goal is to provide access and opportunity to all adults in southeastern Wisconsin. We want to see our graduating classes multiply in the future. This is a lofty goal and we need your help to reach it. Please support Literacy Services and adult literacy education!

Saying it has been a challenge living alongside COVID-19 over the last 18 months is an understatement. All of you have felt it and been touched by it as well. We hope, however, that when you read about our English language learners breaking barriers and of new programs impacting areas in our community that have been historically excluded, you can feel the positive momentum! The tide is turning!

Our doors are slowly, but surely, reopening. We are restructuring and reorganizing our approach to both classroom-based and one-on-one learning opportunities to accommodate pandemic-era adaptations. We are committing to hybrid options for programming that incorporate both in-person and virtual learning going forward.

Cecilia, now an LSW graduate, captures the feel at our learning centers this fall:

“My experience at Literacy Services has been as if a girl was going to her first day of school. I felt that feeling when I went to school because I loved it. It has been a great experience and I am very happy to have had the opportunity to be in this program. Although, to be frank, it has not been easy. Barriers appeared to me and at one point I thought I would not make it. But the truth is I did not give up.”


Make no bones about it, adult education is more important now than ever before. The generous backing from our community continues to take our breath away. Your financial support allows LSW to continue to provide educational opportunities to even more adults in our community. Please use the donate button below to make the biggest donation you can. Together, we will get back in full swing and continue to write new success stories of empowered students changing their lives and our community for generations to come.



Holly McCoy
Executive Director