Literacy Achieves dates its roots back to 1997 when it was known as Vickery Meadow Learning Center. The purpose was to help the growing number of refugees and immigrants arriving in the area to learn English. It was five years later that a 20-something volunteered to teach students. Her name was Sarah Polley. Over the years she served as the Adult Program Director from 2001-2006 and then took on the role of CEO.
During the past 16 years both Sarah and Vickery Meadow Learning Center had name changes. In addition to Sarah becoming Sarah Papert when she married Lee Papert in 2011, VMLC’s programs grew well beyond its initial neighborhood. It seems that arriving immigrants were settling in east and west Dallas. To embrace all of its students and to reflect its mission, the name was changed to Literacy Achieves.
Today Literacy Achieves has an annual enrollment of “1,100 adult students and 300 children who benefit from the Adult English Literacy Program, Early Childhood Education Program and Student Support Services with the help of more than 300 volunteer teachers at campuses in East Dallas, West Dallas and Vickery Meadow, as well as via online classes.”
Over the years 30,000+ adults and children from more than 50 countries have benefited from Literacy Achieves in learning English and assimilating to their new community.
As Literacy Achieves prepares for its annual Wings of Spring fundraiser on Monday, April 25, at Annette Strauss Square, it was just announced that Sarah will be retiring this summer.
As Sarah put it, “For the past 20 plus years, I have had the great privilege of serving together with the families of Literacy Achieves (aka VMLC and Vickery Meadow Learning Center) – first and foremost as a volunteer teacher – and so much more along the way. It has truly been the honor of a lifetime to serve at Literacy Achieves, and I am deeply humbled by the multitude of individuals whose dedication and determination enable countless lives to change for the better each day.”
While the search for Sarah’s successor commences, Literacy Achieves Board President Barry McNeil said, “No one else could have achieved such extraordinary growth and success for this organization. Sarah has unparalleled leadership skills to go with the biggest heart around and will be sorely missed by staff, students, volunteers and donors alike. Typical of Sarah’s generosity and commitment to our community’s refugees and immigrants, she wishes to hand leadership over to the next generation of you and diverse leaders.”