WE LEARN (Women Expanding Literacy Education Action Resource Network)

is a community promoting women’s literacy as a tool that fosters empowerment and equity for women.

Shellie Walters, Sumner, WA

ShellieWaltersShellie Waters joined the WE LEARN Board of Directors in 2010. She is also active on both the Women’s Perspectives and Conference committees. She is an ABE student and leader.  She always works to develop other students around her. In addition to her work at WE LEARN, Shellie is the Vice Chair for the Student Advisory Council for ProLiteracy. She is also involved in the Seattle Speakers Bureau and helps to recruit new students to join.

These are some thoughts Shellie included in her introduction to 2010 Women’s Perspectives #6.

“As students, we often put ourselves down. We don’t think we can do anything. We put ourselves down just because we can’t read or write well or can’t do math, and maybe we don’t have a very good education or had bad experiences in school. We didn’t think we could be good or useful until we had a good education.

But what were we doing with what we DID have before we came into a literacy program?....

Women who have poor reading and writing still have lots of other skills, though they might not recognize them as important. …. So, when we come back to school, we’re seen as lacking. We celebrate our school successes AFTER we come back, but we forget that we were also productive before!

We have always found ways to make things work in our lives. We have skills in everyday survival beyond what reading can teach us, but we forget we have these coping/surviving skills. For example, many women have a good work ethic. They are good workers and are able to keep a job. When women come back to school, the teachers or tutors get focused on how much education they don’t have rather than how they are or what they can already do….

As students, we need to have a look at what we DO have rather than what we don’t have. We DO have an important point of view. We ARE already making contributions to society, and they will become stronger with more education.”

Student Scholarship Fund

Through the Student Scholarship Fund in honor of the work of Elizabeth Morrish, WE LEARN reserves funds designated for scholarships and stipends to adult learners for their participation in WE LEARN activities.

Examples include:

  • Awards for selected writing sent to Women’s Perspectives
  • Conference registrations
  • Travel-related expenses for conference and special events
  • Student participation on the board of directors, leadership development projects, and other student-focused activities

altThis fund operates solely from donations or special fundraising events. When making a donation, be sure to indicate your support to this fund.

How to receive an ABE student scholarship award….

  • Women’s PerspectivesSend your writing by the deadline. Be sure to follow the guidelines for the issue. From all the writings we receive, the Selection Committee chooses the ones that show outstanding effort and give clear expression to the theme. Cash awards are given in two categories, Honors and Honorable Mention.
  • Conference: Use the Application Form available on our conference web page. Forms are generally available in November and awards are made in January prior to the conference.
  • Leadership activities: As available. Please, watch for announcements.

Our ability to give financial awards or stipends depends on how much we have in the fund account. We have no set amount for any award.

Elizabeth Morrish (1952-2003)

WE LEARN’s Student Scholarship Fund was created to honor the memory of Elizabeth Morrish and to commemorate her work and commitment to adult learners. A creative teacher and strong women's advocate, Elizabeth was committed to working with learners on issues of health and violence, especially as they affect women. Elizabeth worked for World Education from 1995 to 2003. Her roles included Director of the Women, Violence, and Adult Education Project, Literacy Specialist for the Health Education and Literacy (HEAL) Project, Director of the Statewide Technical Assistance Program, and Project Coordinator for the Channing L. Bete Company Evaluation Project. At the time of her passing, Elizabeth had been supporting WE LEARN in our early development. Many of our founding members were friends and colleagues to Elizabeth. We still miss her vision, energy, and guidance.

Some of Elizabeth’s work and writing can still be found on the Internet:

  • The Change Agent: Issue 4, Feb. 1997 with focus on Health & Literacy Several articles authored by Elizabeth
  • HEAL: BCC Curriculum Health Education and Adult Literacy: Breast & Cervical Cancer (Elizabeth contributed as a consultant on this project)
  • Ideas in Action: Participatory Health and Literacy Education with Adults
  • Forming a Health Team
  • Spiral Model
  • Reflections on the Women, Violence, and Adult Education Project in Focus on Basics, Volume 5, Issue C, February 2002.
  • Take on the Challenge: A Source Book from the Women, Violence, and Adult Education Project (2002)
  • Teachers' Concerns About Incorporating Health into Adult Education Field Notes, Vol. 10 #4, Health & Literacy, Spring 2001