OTTAWA — Grins, cheers, and applause were plentiful on April 29 at
Autumn Court, as seven residents celebrated their participation in an
Adult Basic Literacy Education (ABLE) program that was designed
especially for them.
Bernice Ruhe, Autumn Court’s Activities
Director, related, “This all started when a resident said she wanted to
go back to school. I got hold of the ESC (Putnam County Educational
Service Center) to see if anyone would be willing to teach.”
Court is a skilled nursing facility that provides specialized care for
persons with behavior and mental health issues. Residents range in age
from 26 years and older. Several of the residents attended college, and
some even finished college, but because of their illnesses, they were
unable to function in society.
Putnam County ESC Superintendent
Dr. Jan Osborn and Marelese Stever, the lead GED (General Educational
Development) instructor, collaborated with Autumn Court to design a
curriculum for the residents.
“Our mission is to provide life-long
learning opportunities for residents in the community,” explained Dr.
Osborn. “This is a great example how we are able to reach our mission,
thanks to Marelese.”
Each Tuesday, for the past two years, Stever
volunteered her time at Autumn Court, teaching very basic skills in
reading and math. The residents were so excited to see her, they waited
at the door to greet her.
“I was just delighted to be able to work
with a diverse population of students who were not able to come into
the classroom,” Stever declared. “It gave the students contact with
others in a controlled setting.”
“Bernice had the idea that (these
classes) would make the residents feel better about themselves,” said
Nick Scheck, Autumn Court’s Administrator. “And boy, it’s worked!” “It’s
been a great improvement for all of the students,” added Ruhe. “We
could tell their confidence was up on the days they had school.”
noted the Autumn Court students read the Bible more than any other
class she taught. She gave each student a cross or a fish to mark a
favorite passage in the Bible.
In addition to sharpening their
basic education and their confidence, some students enhanced their
physical therapy skills, such as holding a pencil.
presented each student with a framed certificate of attendance for his
or her participation in the ABLE program. The students’ faces lit up
with grins that were a mile wide as Dr. Osborn shook hands with them.
Brown crowed, “Finally!” when she received her certificate. She was one
of the star pupils; even when class was not in session, Brown got out
her books and wrote essays. She sometimes wrote two to three letters a
“It warms my heart to see this,” said Scheck. “We’re their
family.” He explained that many of the residents have no family, or
their family lives far away.
The future of Autumn Court’s ABLE
classes is in question. Stever is retiring in June, and Dr. Osborn was
uncertain if the program would be able to continue. He assured that he
would be having conversations about its destiny.
The Autumn Court
ABLE Class of 2014 recognized Stever for her dedication, as student
Marvin Beach shyly presented her with a certificate and a bouquet of
flowers. Then came the best part of all.
“We wanted to celebrate,” grinned Ruhe, “So we got cake.”