Laura Lee Williard, Executive Director in addition to leading efforts to improve adult literacy levels in the Garland County community, Laura Lee is also a part-time faculty member of Arkansas A+ Schools, providing professional development to teachers integrating musical concepts into curriculum.
She is also a part-time teaching artist and performing folksinger through the Arkansas Arts Council, providing arts-infused learning that inspires critical thinking and a deeper understanding of the subject matter. In this capacity, Laura Lee provides artist residencies that use music and or songwriting to teach math, science, history, English as a second language, and especially to boost literacy skills.
She has an extensive background in developing curriculum, technical writing and accreditation documentation, marketing, PR & communications, research, crisis intervention, juvenile delinquency, and Hispanic drop-out prevention.
The vision of the LCGC is to remove barriers to literacy learning and to enhance success in daily life by building literacy skills. We provide free tutoring for low literate adults and non-English-speaking adults in learning to read, write & speak English. We are also embarking on new initiatives designed to engage more of our community in lifelong literacy learning.
Laura Lee’s educational background include obtaining a BA in Psychology & Spanish and working toward and conducting research studies for 5 years toward a PhD in Developmental & Child Psychology.
The Hillers joined the team in December 2016. They are tasked with recruiting students, recruiting tutors , training tutors and teaching students. With deep backgrounds in business, education and leadership their former careers prepared them to serve the literacy needs of the residents of Garland County.
Sara Massey, Americorps member has a B.A in Professional and Technical Writing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She tutors, and helps with Social Media. Her main focus at the Literacy Council is its website and database management.
Kenyann Lucas, Board member has been an R N for more than 45 years, Lucas has crossed paths with a large number of diverse individuals. Her background is in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing and Teaching. She spent 25 years of her career working directly with students in an RN program. Lucas realized that the ability to succeed in improving one’s life was directly influenced by the ability to communicate with those around them, to read, even something as basic as a pill bottle, and to comprehend both verbal & written words.
Sadly, she saw many students unable to fulfill their life’s dream of becoming an RN, due to their literacy level. Once retired, I felt that becoming actively involved with the Literacy Council is one way to help adults reach their goals through improved literacy.
Fulfilling both a volunteer role and Board Member is a tremendous opportunity. Every organization has its risks and rewards; only by working together can we achieve our mission.
Carol Stanfil, Board member always loved school. She says, “I ‘taught’ the neighbor kids, younger siblings, teddy bears, kittens anybody who wanted to play school.” Carol worked at an elementary school in her senior year in college. She earned her M.A in education at Western State College in Colorado. Stanfil continued to work on her education and now has over 60 credits past her M.A. Stanfil say, “It is because of literacy, that I was able to work my way up out of poverty.” She taught school in San Diego County and Pagosa Springs, Colorado for 30 years.
Alana Pierce, Board member is a former creative-writing instructor turned professional firefighter. She earned her M.L.A from Henderson State University and taught college-level writing for six years before swapping out her red pen for a red helmet. She has been a full-time firefighter at NLRFD since 2006 and has been a local volunteer firefighter since 2005. She still publishes in her spare time under a pen name and has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize and was a finalist for the Foley Prize.
Her interest in adult literacy was sparked after reading George Dawson’s book, “Life is So Good.” Dawson was born in 1898 and learned to read in his late 90’s, publishing the book at age 98. Alana’s contributions as a board member include fundraising and property maintenance and improvement.
Alana owns one of the largest Don Knotts collections in the United States, hoards antique typewriters and records, is an avid gym-rat, is the adoring wife to a US Army sniper, and has two children: Erin, Age 20 and Marcus, age 3.
Kiley Sleddens, Board member is an Assistant Principal at Hot Springs World Class High School where she has also served as an English Teacher and Instructional Facilitator for eleven years. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Arts in Teaching, a Master of Science in Education from Henderson State University. She is National Board Certified and serves as a member of the Literacy Council of Garland County. When she is not working, Kiley enjoys spending time with her fiancé, children, and family, traveling, and quilting.
Jodi Chalmers, Board member has been working in Alternative Education settings for over 30 years. Originally, from New York, Jodi moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1995 with her husband and two sons. A graduate of Lesley University, Arkansas State University and UALR. She holds a BS and an MS in Education with certifications in Elementary Education, Special Education, Middle School Education, School Administration and Conflict Resolution, Mediation and Negotiation.
Since their arrival in Garland County, she has worked with children and young adults, teaching gymnastics at Hot Springs Gymnastics, as a Resource Teacher in the Hot Springs School District’s Alternative Program on Spring Street, and as the Educational Coordinator for Community Counseling’s Excel Program.
Jodi joined the Lake Hamilton School district nine years ago as a resource teacher and for the past seven years, has been The New Horizons Alternative Education Program Coordinator. With the support of the Lake Hamilton district school board and administration, she established the New Horizons Alternative Education program in 2009, with the program being recognized by the Arkansas Department of Education as one of the state’s model programs of 2016. Jodi also facilitates the district’s Second Chance program for students with drug/alcohol issues on campus as well as the newly established Opportunity Academy, a flexible academic program for Lake Hamilton students who due to personal, financial or medical issues are unable to attend regular on campus instruction but are continuing to work toward a diploma.
In addition to her board membership on the Literacy Council, she is also a member of the Garland County Juvenile Drug Court Team, a board member of the Ouachita Area Youth Council and part of Project Hope Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project. Jodi has dedicated her career to advocating for students who have not found school to be a place of success and has been active in supporting organizations that share her mission.