In Memoriam of Rowena Nichols

posted Mar 16, 2018, 2:50 PM by Muncie Hansen

Rowena Nichols, long time ReadWest Volunteer Tutor, passed away March 14, 2018. She was 90 years old. She tutored English as a Second Language and Basic Literacy Adult Students. She tutored a dozen adult students during her years at ReadWest. After a stroke confined her to a wheelchair, she continued to write newsletter articles for ReadWest on Tutoring Adult Ideas called, “Rowena’s Corner.” Later she wrote a series of lesson plans centered on health that are available in the ReadWest Office. Rowena was honored in 2010 with the ReadWest Hero Award for her many contributions to our Adult Literacy Program. Rowena was working on her second book about Stroke Recovery when she passed away. She will be deeply missed.

Rowena pedaling
Rowena and Natalia

Meet Monday - Cyndy Ratliff

posted Mar 12, 2018, 10:13 AM by Muncie Hansen

Meet Monday is where we introduce some of the people who help make ReadWest, Inc. possible from staff to board members to tutors and other volunteers. 

Cyndy R. Program Coordinator

Cyndy Ratliff is the Program Coordinator for ReadWest, Inc. She has been with ReadWest since July 2013. She wears many hats. Cyndy organizes, advertises, hosts and conducts all tutor orientation. She also matches tutors to adult learners and follows up on matches to ensure that they are successful. Cyndy provides intake for new adult learners and assists the Executive Director with some projects. She also helps onboard volunteers for the office and library, maintains Laces (Database), and helps as needed with maintenance on the building, which sometimes includes hunting mischievous raccoons. Ask her about it sometime!

If you get the opportunity to visit her in person at ReadWest, you will quickly see that she is a huge Star Wars fans.

Reading Habits: Recently finished The Hunger Games Trilogy. Also enjoys biographies of people from all walks of life and sci-fi books. (You already guessed that last one, didn't you?)

Why ReadWest? 

"I support ReadWest because we are making a difference that will last generations. I believe adult literacy is important because I come from a long line of farm and ranch workers that were not allowed the opportunity to be formally educated. So instead of working smarter, they worked harder and their bodies give out long before their minds did."

ReadWest Supports National Read Across America Day

posted Mar 1, 2018, 1:51 PM by Muncie Hansen

By Morgan O'Donnell

National Read Across America Day

“The substantial relationship between parent involvement for the school and reading comprehension levels of fourth-grade classrooms is obvious, according to the U.S. Department of Education.7 Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average (reading score) is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average - a gap of 74 points. Even after controlling for other attributes of communities, schools, principals, classes, and students, that might confound this relationship, the gap is 44 points.”

~National Education Association

Perhaps you are wondering what exactly this means. It means that adult literacy is linked to children’s literacy and, of course, a child’s literacy impacts whether he or she will be literate as an adult. That’s why it’s more important than ever to encourage and promote children’s literacy by reading to them and providing books. That's why ReadWest supports National Read Across America Day (March 2nd).  Learn more about Read Across America.

How can you help?

  • Donate gently used children’s books to Read to Me!
  • Volunteer to be a tutor at Albuquerque Reads.
  • Visit a public library near you for story time and more children’s reading resources

Albuquerque and Bernalillo County Public Library

Town of Bernalillo Library

Corrales Community Library

Placitas Community Library

Rio Rancho Public Libraries

Another way you can help is by volunteering with or donating to ReadWest. Parents can’t read to their children if they themselves are unable to read. That’s where we come in. We help adults learn to read with one-on-one tutoring by trained, certified volunteers. And, it’s FREE.

Mother's reading level impact

Tea and Books: Five Personal Pairings

posted Jan 31, 2018, 6:25 PM by Muncie Hansen   [ updated Jan 31, 2018, 6:31 PM ]

The secret to a well balanced life

By Morgan O'Donnell

In celebration of National Hot Tea Month (January), I thought I would share five of my favorite books and the teas I love to drink while reading them.


Dune by Frank Herbert

Let’s start with Dune by Frank Herbert. This is a book that I have been reading and rereading for over 20 years. After numerous rejections, this 186,000-word novel finally found a publishing home in 1965 in Chilton Book Company, known primarily for its auto manuals. In Dune, Herbert explored themes of politics, world ecology, religion, imperialism, mind-body connection, and much more. Although the world has changed since it was first written, I have found it to be just as relevant today and each time I read it I gain new insights and perspectives.

Like Dune, Moroccan Mint Tea by Stash is a staple for me. This green tea/mint combo is unique in that it uses both spearmint and peppermint and also includes lemongrass. For me, it can be soothing and refreshing as well as having enough caffeine to give me a gentle pick-me-up when needed.

Dream Work by Mary Oliver

Dream Work by Mary Oliver is book of poetry that – like Herbert’s book – I have returned to again and again. One of my favorite poems in the book is Morning Poem. In this poem, Oliver manages to intertwine nature and hope in a truly inspiring way. Although the imagery in the poem comes more from the landscape of Eastern forests, I am always reminded of the awe-inspiring dawns of the Sandia Mountains that have captured my heart.

What better way to read and appreciate poetry inspired by nature than with a steaming cup of Twinings Peppermint Tea? This smooth yet jaunty tea sweetened with a bit of local honey is the perfect companion to a New Mexican morning reading of poetry.

Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal

Whether you are leading a company, a committee, a group of volunteers, or a start-up of one, you can find plenty  of nuggets of wisdom in a Team of Teams by U.S. Army Retired General Stanly McChrystal, Tantum Collins,‎ David Silverman, and‎ Chris Fussell.  My copy is strewn with sticky notes and has been loaned out several times.

To help my brain absorb all of the information and lessons provided in this book, I turn to Refreshing Mint Vital Energy Tea by Yogi.  This tea has both black and green tea as well as peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon bark, clove, cardamom, ginger, kola nut, guarana seed, and stevia. While the caffeine content reaches almost the level of a cup of coffee, I find this tea delivers a steady boost of energy allowing me to focus as opposed to the burst then crash I tend to experience with coffee.

A Plague of Angels by Sheri S. Tepper

Sheri S. Tepper, who lived in Santa Fe for a time, wrote A Plague of Angels along with many other novels. This fantasy book has always fascinated me and it is the perfect choice when I am ready to curl up with a good book on the weekend. Two aspects of the novel in particular that have intrigued me are her use of archetypes and the four families in the Place of Power. I have some theories on who/what the four families are based on, but I will keep them to myself. If you are interested in chatting about the families and my theories, let me know!

While I am indulging in a good fantasy why not indulge in a Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks. It is smooth, sweet, and allows me to combine my love of tea with my sweet tooth.

Ravenwood by Nathan Lowell

Last but not least on my list is Ravenwood by Nathan Lowell.  This is a lovely, fantasy tale set in a time where horses and walking are the primary modes of transportation, clothes are hand made, and healing is done with herbs.  One of the most interesting aspects is the protagonist. Good Reads reviewer Ann Schwader says, “Ravenwood is a pagan-themed tale featuring a rarity in in most fantasy: a woman protagonist over fifty (or at least close to it!).” If you need a break from the chaos of the world, crack open this book or listen to it on audio. 

Keeping with the theme of times passed, I chose the Downton Abbey Estate Blend by The Republic of Tea to go enjoy while reading Lowell’s book. This Earl Grey black tea with bergamot and vanilla is the perfect beverage to allow one to step back, take a sip, and pretend to be royalty.

What about you? Which teas do you pair up with your favorite books? 

Together We Can Do More

posted Jan 2, 2018, 11:05 AM by Muncie Hansen   [ updated Jan 2, 2018, 11:22 AM ]

Why do I support ReadWest as the President of the Board of Directors?  I was totally illiterate at the age of 16 and dropped out of high school to save myself the embarrassment and humiliation of being labeled “slow”.  

Fast forward 46 years and I now have a BA in Human Resource Management, an M.Ed. in Organizational Development, and a Ph.D. certificate in Evidence-Based Leadership.

I could hold a conversation as well as anyone else my age or older, but when it came to reading assignments or writing papers, after a while, I just gave up.  As this trend became more and more evident, I went from being “slow” to being “lazy”.  Being slow is something people can empathize with; being lazy is something people in my life (family, friends, teachers) often judged, criticized, and resented me for.

By the time I was 30, with a great deal of effort, I was able to function at a good job at Ford Motor Company, but was still what would be considered functionally illiterate.  It was a daily struggle to perform the administrative tasks that go with many jobs.  When I was critically aware of this problem, the people I worked for started noticing it as well.  The day the situation came to a head, I saw a news segment about adults with ADHD and the issues they faced.  It was me to a tee. My first weekend on medication I read half of Isaac Asimov’s  Foundation.  My life changed forever.

Now it is time for me to give back. That's why I am giving time and money to ReadWest. ReadWest has over 280 UNPAID tutors working with over 350 individuals a year. What is even more incredible is ReadWest provides its tutoring services for FREE.  If I had these services when I was 20, I might have been in college instead of working as a day laborer.

Almost every day we hear stories from our adult students about how our services have changed or are changing their lives. Those student success stories and my own story are why I am happy to give my time as President of the ReadWest Board.  I invite you to join me in donating to ReadWest, Inc. Together we can do more.

Dennis Nagle, M.Ed., A.C.C.
President, Board of Directors
ReadWest, Inc.

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