Londer Learning Center co-founder John Ryan “committed his life to promoting justice and fostering adult literacy” said the Board of County Commissioners when the board proclaimed Jan. 12 “John Duncan Ryan Commemoration Day.”
Ryan, a renowned local attorney, died on Dec. 18, 2011, at the age of 91.
“He believed in the possibility of sustained, positive personal change,” Commissioner Judy Shiprack said at the board meeting to honor Ryan. That belief, she noted, led him to co-found Londer Learning Center, a GED and pre-employment program for adults on parole, probation and in re-entry from prison and jail. The Department of Community Justice operates the center, which receives more than 1,000 referrals each year from judges, courts, and parole and probation officers.
“We often think of improving literacy or building schools as something that’s needed in other countries,” Londer Learning Center Manager Carole Scholl told the commissioners. “John Ryan was exceptional in that he saw that a need for improving adult literacy exists right here in Portland.”
Londer student Myldred Silvia thanked Ryan and Judge Donald Londer for their vision of creating a school for adults involved in the criminal justice system.
“Without this vision many of us would be struggling for a second chance in life,” Silvia said. “For this vision I say thank you, for you have put hope into hopelessness and reawakened dreams and goals.”
Silvia added that going back to school has led to many positive changes. “I am now getting my GED, my self esteem is coming back, and it’s given me the confidence to pursue further education,” she said. “Thank you.”
Londer Learning Center “gives us a chance to turn our lives around in a more meaningful way other than the path we were on prior to having this opportunity,” said Londer GED graduate James Vessey. “I just want to say I’m very thankful. I know I have a place I can go to further my education.“
Commissioner Shiprack, who brought forth the proclamation, thanked the students for their efforts. “Thank you for the opportunity to be inspired by the courage of personal change,” she said. “That’s really what Londer Learning Center stands for. And it stands as an inspiration to us all.”
“We want everyone in our community to be successful and the center is making sure we can do that,” Commissioner Loretta Smith said.
Circuit Court Judge Henry Kantor said, “John would have been pleased attention has been brought to Londer Learning Center and to its activities.”