Brian Jeffries now reads.
A story in June about the 22-year-old, one of an estimated 90-million adults in the United States with limited literacy skills, detailed his efforts to learn to read after years of failure in traditional schools and frustration with limited career options.
In September 1999, Jeffries began attending evening classes at Lakewood High School taught by volunteers with the Literacy Council. He and his tutor, Jan Frazer-Smith, have worked through several levels of skill books, graduating to an advanced book in the fall, "a big leap forward," said Frazer-Smith.
He is able to read more selections in The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe, a book he bought so he could read his father's favorite poem, Annabel Lee.
His job in the Disston Publix deli, which began as a part-time stint, has evolved into full-time work, "with more responsibility," he said. "I'm able to take orders (by phone) now, which is a big deal for me. And make platters. Not just slice meat and make sandwiches."
Jeffries also began math classes in the early fall, part of his strategy to pass the GED, "I hope within the next year," he said.
He voted in the November election, "the first time I ever vote and all this happened," he said. Before the election, Frazer-Smith brought news articles and reading materials to class and showed him a sample ballot.
"It was easy once I got to it. I was confident about who I wanted to vote for," Jeffries said. "And I know I didn't have any of those hanging things when I voted."