Pathfinder Adrian McBride: Helping Adults to Achieve Their Lifelong Literacy Journey

Pathfinder is a series of blogs about intrepid library staff who are leading interesting programs that you may not yet know about.

Adrian McBride is a native Southern Californian who has made San José home when career changes required a move to Northern California.

Adrian has worked mostly in education for the majority of his career as a teacher, proposal writer, and a grants manager.

Since being hired as one of the builders of the SJ Aspires program, Adrian found himself being transitioned into the Community Programs Administrator at Partners in Reading (PAR): Adult and Family Literacy.

He tells me,

"I joined Partners in Reading because I admired the work of the program and the committed staff members who support the program, our learners, and our tutors day-in and day-out."

Partners in Reading (PAR)

Here is PAR's mission:

"PAR is dedicated to improving the lives of adults by supporting them in basic reading, writing, language, technology, and life skills to engage with greater confidence in all areas of their lives."

PAR is funded by donations to the San Jose Public Library Foundation.

Interesting fact: The acronym PAR was used instead of PIR because the acronym had already been taken!

Adrian tells me,

"PAR is great because the program is specifically designed to help learners achieve their goals. All our tutoring and instruction is learner-centered, which makes the program incredible relevant and important to individuals in PAR.

PAR currently has over 125 adult learners receiving either individual or small-group literacy instruction. This work has an immediate and tangible benefit to the lives of the learners in it. Through PAR, they are better able to read and write English, which helps them in all facets of their lives, from talking to doctors and teachers to writing their own stories for our annual publication."

Become a Learner or Tutor

To become a PAR learner, call 408-808-2361.

Please read the following, depending on whether you know someone who would like to be a learner or a tutor volunteer:

Toolboxes for Learners and Tutors

There are also toolboxes (online websites that have been curated by PAR) for learners and tutor volunteers:

Family Literacy

PAR is not just for adults. According to our website, "Partners in Reading works with local organizations to provide parenting workshops, literacy materials, children’s books and more!" Check out how through PAR's Family Literacy Service!

Digital Literacy

PAR helps with digital literacy, too. PAR tutors assist learners with technology: "computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones," per our website.

SJ Aspires

Adrian also leads the SJ Aspires and Career Online High School programs!

According to Adrian,

"SJ Aspires provides under-resourced students at Title I schools in San José with the opportunity to build a scholarship fund of up to $5,000 for when they start college, community college, or enroll at a trade or technical school. We're at two partner school sites (San José High School and Overfelt High School).

I support the day-to-day work of Katie Linder and Ngoc Lien as they work with the students, school sites, and partners to promote student engagement and develop new opportunities for students in the program. Mainly, my role is managing contracts and partnerships. Before moving into my current role, I managed the day-to-day of the program as SJ Aspires grew from a pilot of 50 seniors at Overfelt High School to its current iteration of almost 2,000 students in grades 9-12.

(The students) are receiving micro-scholarships as they pursue their college and career goals and aspirations. Through these micro-scholarships, students can graduate from high school with up to $5,000 designated to help cover the cost of community college, four-year colleges or universities, or vocational training."

If you look at the website, the Library partners with Students Rising Above and Northern California College Promise Coalition.

There are over 30 awards ready to be claimed over the four years of high school. Some awards are jointly agreed upon like: GPA, attendance, and succeeding in their classes. In addition to the 30 awards, there are additional awards to claim based upon what is called their "High School Journey." Each year of high school includes the following awards, including:

  • 9th Grade: Create accounts, join a club, find a mentor, learn a foreign language, etc.
  • 10th Grade: Lead a club, apply for an internship, learn to code, create a resumé, etc.
  • 11th Grade: Take an AP, SAT, or ACT exam, play on an athletic team, participate in teensReach, etc.
  • 12th Grade: Complete a FAFSA or CA Dream Act Application, get volunteer experience, complete a career inventory, apply to college, etc.

This program is funded through the generous donations of these donors.

Career Online High School

Career Online High School, also managed by Adrian, helps adults (19 and older) who want to obtain their high school diploma and a career certificate.

The Library supports the student who enrolls in Career Online High School, from enrollment through graduation! This program is supported by the California State Library and the San José Public Library Foundation.

Adrian tells me,

"To date, over 140 adults in San José have earned their high school diploma and career certificate through Career Online High School. The program is offered at no-cost to the student thanks to the generous support of the California State Library and the San José Public Library Foundation."

See the Career Online High School page for details on who can attend and how to get started.

For more information, contact

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