Craig man has grave reasons to take college classes at CNCC in Craig |

Craig man has grave reasons to take college classes at CNCC in Craig

As a young man, Roger Albaugh wasn't motivated to learn, but after years of using street smarts to survive, he decided to honor a promise he made to God to live a better life. He is now enrolled in the Adult Education program at Colorado Northwestern Community College and is proud of how much the program has improved his reading, writing and attitude.
Sasha Nelson

— A Craig’s man illiteracy crippled him from ordering a gravestone for his mother when she died 20 years ago, but he’s now putting words to stone, thanks to a literacy program at Colorado Northwestern Community College.

As a youth, Roger Albaugh had a hard life filled with drinking, drugs and dysfunction. He dropped out of high school at age 16 with limited reading and writing skills.

Albaugh remained illiterate well into his 50s.

“I survived by being able to read the small stuff. I played mind games and fell into the chaos and drama,” Albaugh said. “But the system took advantage of me, because I was illiterate.”

He wasn’t able to complete forms at the doctor’s office, and, when his mother died, he wasn’t able to give her a headstone.

“My mom passed away 20 years ago. She has no headstone and it’s my fault … this year my mom will get the headstone she deserves,” Albaugh said.

He felt too much shame to ask for help.

“Roger didn’t trust people and didn’t let people know (he wasn’t literate),” said Certified Addictions Counselor Tracey Lathrop, who used to work at Mind Springs Health in Craig.

The turning point came in 2005, when Albaugh spent 72 hours in jail. It was the only time he was incarcerated, and it scared him straight.

“I promised God that I would straighten up,” he said.

Tuesday he celebrated 100 months of sobriety.

During recovery, he aided others as a peer co-facilitator in Lathrop’s former practice at Mind Springs Health.

Two years ago he enrolled in the Adult Education program at Colorado Northwestern Community College where he participates in the Read Right program.

CNCC’s program uses techniques specifically for adults.

“It takes out the childish factor. They don’t go back to phonics or Dick and Jane books. It rewires the brain so that they can understand and read for content,” said CNCC Director of Adult Education Melissa Dowd.

The program focuses on competency rather than academic advancement.

“If you can’t understand your rental agreement, street signs, basic newspaper stories, or filling out an application, that’s going to be an issue,” Dowd said.

Read Right registration is open anytime during the semester. The class costs $25 for the semester and includes pre- and post-assessment testing, tutors and access to all the same services offered to other students.

The program has helped Albaugh improve his skills.

“I’m really proud of him, because he is doing all this work. It took awhile for him to get the gumption to do the work and to admit to someone other than me that he had a hard time,” Lathrop said.

Albaugh has also learned to ask for help and is gaining confidence to serve the community.

“Every time I need to see a doctor, and I need to fill out a form I now ask them,” Albaugh said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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