Tags: Basic Adult Literacy, community, Family Learning, networking, Registration, students, suggestions, Volunteer, volunteers
The weather’s starting to change, that means it’s time to get back in the classroom!
I’m happy to report we have confirmed class times and locations with all our classroom community partners and the new schedules are ready for the ESOL Learning Centers and Family Learning Program. Click the Google Map below to see our classroom locations or where neighboring English Language services are:
Registration will be September 14th through 22nd and we’ll be advertising in the walk-able areas immediately around each class site but we encourage you to help our advertising campaign. How can you help? Ask your neighborhood grocer, library, community center or place of worship if you can post a copy of our schedule on their community news or bulletin space. You can find a link to each schedule here:
Thank you for all your support!
-Erin Finn, Director of Classroom Programs
Tags: community, family, thank you!
From the first Reading: A Family Affair five years ago, the event has been a true community collaboration, a partnership among the Literacy Council, the James Lee Community Center, the Fairfax and Arlington County Public Libraries, and WETA. And of course, the event wouldn’t be possible without the tireless efforts of our many volunteers in the weeks leading up to and the day of the event. This year’s RAFA is more collaborative than ever thanks to the dedicated work of several volunteer planning committees, who began meeting to plan the event in the fall and have continually impressed us with their outstanding creativity and insight. These committees have played a leading role in the selection of performers; the formation of a public relations strategy, from flyer design to media lists to press releases; solicitation of in-kind donations; and planning for decorations and set up. Thank you to all!
Performers Committee: Rachel Harlan; Julia Zurkovsky; Karen Kostreba
Publicity Committee: Susan Larson (Committee Chair); Misty Jones; Ferne Barrow
Decorations Committee: Kelly Chroninger; Kate Brodeur
In-kind Committee: Rebecca Riddell; Amali Amarasinghe
-Stacy Nall, Development Specialist
Tags: RAFA, thank you!, Volunteer
Here are some ways to start this month: Basic Literacy Tutors: Our next tutor training will take place on February 26, March 5, and March 12 from 9:30 am-1:30 pm each day (there is a $40 fee). Volunteer tutors will help other adults improve their reading and writing skills. Hours are flexible, and a 9-month commitment is required.
Reading: A Family Affair (RAFA) event planners/committee members: RAFA is our annual major special event, taking place on Saturday, March 19th this year. It is a fun-filled and free event open to local families in the community, meant to encourage the joys of reading together and bring books to life. I am looking for volunteers to serve on the Decorations/Setup and Day Of Event committees. Much of this can be done on your own time, with the understanding that it will get busier in the weeks leading up to the event.
Library Liaisons: These volunteers bring flyers to their assigned libraries (1-3 each) to help us advertise our workshops, trainings, and other special events. I am looking for people to take over libraries in McLean, Chantilly, and Vienna.
Office Assistants: Curious about how everything works at the LCNV office? Here’s your chance! I am recruiting dedicated volunteers to come in 1-2 times a week for a few hours to help out with administrative tasks, such as data entry, mailing, folding, filing, making phone calls, and many others. We are flexible – even if you don’t like computers, talking on the phone, etc. – that’s okay! Chances are we’ll be able to find something for you to do.
Please let me know if any of these positions appeal to you!
My e-mail is email@example.com.
-Belle Peñaranda, Director of Volunteers
Title: LCNV Calendar: November 2010
Welcome to November - a time for Thanksgiving, turkey (or tofurkey), and tutor trainings! Here’s the information about the next set of Basic Literacy workshops:
What: Basic Literacy tutor workshops
When (updated 11/09/10): Saturdays, Nov. 20th, Dec. 4th and Dec. 11th, 9:30 am-1:30 pm
Where: James Lee Community Center, 2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church, VA 22042
Who: All interested volunteers over 18, who can commit to at least 9 months of weekly tutoring
Why: Adult learners are waiting to be matched with a volunteer tutor, so that they can improve their reading and writing skills.
How: E-mail Belle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-237-0866 x111.
Thank you for all that you do!
-Belle Peñaranda, Director of Volunteers
Tags: announcement, conference, networking
My most recent (and first) blog post addressed the rewards and challenges of working remotely for the Literacy Council, which I’ve been doing since late 2007. Reading that post again, I realize that my interaction with my coworkers has changed since writing it. For the past several months we’ve been teleconferencing, using Skype, for our meetings. I sit in front of my computer, which has a built-in webcam, in San Francisco, while others in Falls Church sit in front of a similarly equipped computer. They hear and see me, while I hear and see them. Before using Skype, we conducted meetings over conference calls. Now, teleconferencing has brought video into the mix. It might seem a small difference, but it really adds a sense of being connected. They can see the paintings hanging on the wall behind me, the red couch below it, and the sunlight (when it isn’t foggy) shining through the window to my left; and I get treated to a glimpse of what it’s like to back in the office. When another coworker walks through the webcam’s line of sight, I often blurt out “Hey there,” hoping to indulge in a few moments of small talk. It’s a nice little treat, and it bolsters my enthusiasm for what I do.
But for me, nothing can beat actually being there, so next month (in October), I’ll be flying out to Virginia to spend two or three days back in the Falls Church office. Strange as it may seem, I’ve never met my new boss, our Senior Director of Development, Suzie Eaton, though I interact with her nearly every day via IM and emails, or our new Development Assistant, Stacy Nall. Plus we’ve just welcomed a new cohort of AmeriCorps members to the staff, so I’ll be able to meet them, too. Working remotely has been good for both me and the Literacy Council, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in person again to remind me of what a great organization this is and how lucky I am still to be working for it.
-Matt Kollmeyer, Grants and Publications Specialist
Celebrating 10 years in the Nation’s Capital, the National Book Festival is one of the greatest gifts to literacy and book lovers. This past Saturday, the last Saturday in September, I spent all day on the National Mall at the National Book Festival, as I have every year for the past 10 years. The event never disappoints. What an amazing opportunity to meet and learn from nearly 100 authors who are delighted to present to the audience a window into their lives, their inspirations for characters and themes, their writing process, and entertain questions from the audience. Giant circus tents cover the eastern end of the mall, each labeled by genre: fiction/mystery, children, teens, poetry/prose, history/biography. . . . .so you can pick and chose and travel from tent to tent all day long listening to the authors of your choice. This year I heard, and befriended, Julia Glass, Ken Follet, Olga Grushin, Rosemary Wells, Jeff Smith, Michele Norris, and Anchee Min. Each presentation was different, informative, and somehow made me feel like I was in a personal setting having tea with a well-known author (when, in fact, there were probably at least 1000 book lovers sharing the space in the crowded tent).
Equally impressive is the number of people who attend the free, family event focused on reading, learning and books. Happy children are everywhere, and the first in line to ask their favorite author questions about the characters they love in the books they read. It doesn’t get any better than that for inspiring young authors, and encouraging new readers. Every tent is filled with people from 10:00 am until 5:30 pm. It is an incredible gathering of passionate readers.
My favorite author of the day, Anchee Min, opened her presentation by saying, “Thank you, America! I can’t believe I am really here speaking in English and people have come to hear me because they have read my story.” I say, thank you to Anchee Min for writing such beautiful stories and for taking the time to meet with all of us. As for America, thank you to the Library of Congress for using our tax dollars for an event that is entertaining, enriching, educational and an extraordinary gift to all who love to read.
-Patricia Donnelly, Executive Director
Tags: announcement, community, give, networking, numbers, recruiting, volunteers
My, oh, my. It has been a very busy past couple of months in the Volunteers Department (which is a department of one – MOI!). By the numbers:
39 people signed up for the ESOL tutor trainings that started in August (out of a possible 40 spots). 35 showed up on the first day. Out of those people, 31 attended the required 2 out of 3 sessions, meaning that there are that many new potential matches in the ESOL tutoring program. That’s a great number!
28 people signed up for the Basic Literacy trainings that started earlier in September (out of a possible 30 spots). 23 showed up on the first day. The second day of the training is this Saturday, so it is still too early to determine how many new potential matches there will be in the Basic Literacy tutoring program. But my hopes are high – crossing my fingers for a perfect 23 matches!
11 people signed up for the Student Assessment Specialist training on September 11th. 10 people made it to and completed the training. I know several new volunteers have already started testing in full force during our busy registrations, and we are so grateful!
And last but not least – so far, we have recruited and placed 17 new people in the Learning Centers and Family Learning classroom programs. The same number of people were able to attend the one-day classroom training on Saturday, September 18th. It’s always fun to see the new blood in the classroom programs!
Many people sign up to volunteer in the fall because it is a time for fresh starts – the lazy days of summer are over, and for most, it is a wonderful time to pursue something new. The momentum is obviously there – let’s keep it going! There are new tutor trainings in October and November. Sign up today! Please e-mail me at email@example.com if you’re interested in hearing more.
-Belle Peñaranda, Director of Volunteers
On September 11, the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia hosted a training given by Margaret Kiernan on administering the Basic English Skills Test (also known as the BEST Plus Test). The BEST Plus Test is used to determine the level of English competency of students enrolling in ESL programs. The Literacy Council utilizes the results of BEST Plus testing to place students in the appropriate program as well as to determine progress made by students after each semester.
Margaret Kiernan taught a full house of prospective testers the ins-and-outs of administering a BEST Plus Test. BEST Plus examines three dimensions of verbal ability, namely, comprehension, complexity, and communication. In order to get the highest score in comprehension, a student must demonstrate they understand the question without repetition and are able to give an appropriate answer. The score for complexity measures a student’s command over English syntax. Finally, the score given for communication evaluates the clarity of the student’s answers. If the tester can easily understand the answer, the student will receive the highest score.
Beyond explaining the complexities of scoring, Margaret Kiernan gave volunteers some insight on the emotions of the students they were soon to test. While new examiners may be nervous administering their first tests, the student sitting ninety-degrees to them would be doubly so. Testers should make the atmosphere relaxing and give as much encouragement to the student as the test allows. While it is easy to get lost in the intricacies of the BEST Plus test, Margaret did a great job grounding the test in its ultimate purpose, to effectively serve the needs of ESL learners.
Thank you to Margaret Kiernan and to all the volunteers who spent their September 11th day of service with the Literacy Council.
-Kerrin Epstein, AmeriCorps Volunteer
September is here! September is here! This is the month we all love to hate and hate to love here at LCNV. Here’s what’s going on:
Saturdays, Sept. 11, Sept. 25 & Oct. 2: Basic Literacy Tutor Trainings – This intensive, 3-Saturday workshop trains volunteers to tutor an adult learning to speak, understand, read, and write English. Please click here for more information.
Saturday, Sept. 11: BEST Plus Training for New Student Assessment Specialists – This one-day workshop trains volunteers to administer the BEST Plus test to students in the classroom programs. Please e-mail mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Sept. 14-21: ESOL Learning Centers and Family Learning Program Class Registrations (various locations) – Beginning level adult English learners are invited to register for classes near their home. Please click here for a detailed schedule.
Saturday, Sept. 18: ESOL Classroom Training – This one-day session trains volunteers to teach or help as an aide in the ESOL Learning Centers or Family Learning Program. Please e-mail mailto:email@example.com more information.
– Belle Peñaranda, Director of Volunteers
Lazy summer days? Not here at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia! Although there aren’t any events happening this month, we are busy gearing up for the upcoming fall session. In particular, we are now recruiting for volunteers to attend the ESOL tutor trainings next month.
The ESOL Tutoring Program works with non-English speakers (who are likely illiterate in their native language) who want to work on speaking, understanding, reading and writing English. Currently on a waiting list to be matched with tutors, these adult students are eager to improve their English literacy skills by working one-to-one with a trained volunteer.
Each tutor is trained, matched with a student, and encouraged to meet weekly for an hour and a half at a location convenient to both the volunteer and the student. The Literacy Council provides intensive tutor training at their Falls Church office prior to starting an assignment (there is a $40 fee to cover the costs of training materials). The next three-day training will take place in Falls Church on August 14, 21, and 28 (all Saturdays) at 9:30 am-3:30 pm. Absolutely no teaching experience or knowledge of foreign languages is required. All that’s needed is your willingness to promote adult literacy in the community and serve others!
This volunteer opportunity is perfect if you want to:
- Help people learn English, but feel more comfortable working with someone one-on-one rather than teaching in front of a group;
- Enjoy the flexibility of setting your own schedule with your student;
- Receive satisfaction from seeing an individual’s progress from month to month;
- Follow the structure of established, time-tested instructional materials, but still have room to be creative with your own ideas.
~Belle Peñaranda, Director of Volunteers