Donor Spotlight: A Holiday Gift from Macy’s

October 28, 2010 at 10:45 AM | Posted in Development, donations, Donations, Donors | 1 Comment

An ongoing LCNV tradition is our Holiday Party for the families we serve, featuring festive music, holiday crafts, presents from Santa, and a potluck dinner representing the home countries of our ESOL students. This year, LCNV is proud to announce that our Holiday Party will be sponsored by Macy’s, thanks to a $2,500 local grant made through their store at Tyson’s Corner.

According to Joe Vella, Director of Corporate Marketing for Macy’s, the retail company funds five areas: women’s health, HIV prevention, the arts, education, and the environment. Within education, Macy’s places a high priority on literacy, over the last six years donating more than 15 million dollars to the national literacy organization Reading Is Fundamental. Only through Macy’s customers was this possible; during the back-to-school period, shoppers made $3 donations to Reading is Fundamental in exchange for $10 store coupons. “The customer,” Vella says, “really is an integral part of our giving back to communities.”

“It’s very important,” he adds, “that our customers know their dollars are staying in the community.” To strengthen its commitment to community-based programs in addition to national organizations like Reading Is Fundamental, Macy’s has recently divided corporate giving among its 69 districts, so that each has their own pool of money to give back to their own neighborhoods. LCNV is grateful that 2,500 of these dollars are benefiting LCNV and the families we serve. We thank Macy’s for their generous support this holiday season!

Stacy Nall, Development Specialist

English Con Salsa!

October 27, 2010 at 11:44 AM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, Teaching | Comments Off on English Con Salsa!

Greetings, Literacy Followers! As November rolls in and the leaves begin to fall in earnest I just wanted to share with you a poem by, author and poet, Gina Valdés that was recently sent to me by a friend. Interestingly enough, I had no idea this friend had any interest in ESL, so what a pleasant surprise this was for me.  The ESL fire is spreading!

And, on an unrelated note: my class on elections, voting, and the issues went swimmingly at Mark Center last night. We held a mock election for Virginia’s 8th district(Jim Moran and Patrick Murray) and the results were unanimous. Here are the (much generalized) issues for both candidates we talked about. Any ideas about who my class voted for?

Cheers, happy leaf-pile jumping, and enjoy Gina Valdés’s English con Salsa:


English con Salsa

by Gina Valdés

in Cool Salsa

Welcome to ESL 100, English Surely Latinized,
ingles con chile y cilantro, English as American
as Benito Juarez. Welcome, muchachos from
Xochicalco, learn the language of dolares and dolores, of kings
and queens, of Donald Duck and Batman. Holy toluca!
in four months you’ll be speaking like George
Washington in four weeks you can ask, More coffee? In two months
you can say, May I take your order? In one year
you can ask for a raise, cool as the Tuxpan River.

Welcome,muchachas from Teocaltiche, in this class
we speak English refrito, English con sal y limon,
English thick as mango juice, English poured from
a clay jug, English tuned like a requinto from Uruapan,
English lighted by Oaxacan dawns, English spiked
with mezcal from Juchitan, English with a red cactus
flower blooming in its heart.

Welcome, welcome, amigos del sur, bring your Zapotec
tongues,our Nathuatl tones, your patience of pyramids,
your red suns and golden moons, your guardian angels,
your duendes, your patron saints, Santa Tristeza,
Santa Alegria, Santo Todolopuede. We will sprinkle
holy water on pronouns, make the sign of the cross
on past participles, jump like fish from Lake Patzcuaro
on gerunds, pour tequila from Jalisco on future perfects,
say shoes and shit, grab a cool verb and a pollo loco
and dance on the walls like chapulines.

When a teacher from La Jolla or a cowboy from Santee
asks you, Do you speak English? You’ll answer, Si,
yes, simon, of course. I love English!

And you’ll hum
a mixtecchant that touches la tierra and the heavens.

Sara Venjohn, AmeriCorps Member and Lead Teacher

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

October 26, 2010 at 6:51 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Immigration reform is a controversial and complicated topic that not only impacts immigrants but also citizens and the US economy.  At the end of last month, there was a hearing before a House subcommittee on the “Role of Immigration in Strengthening America’s Economy.”  The Center for American Progress has done studies related to immigration demonstrating the benefits of a comprehensive immigration reform and several of them were cited at the House hearing September 30th.  Take a look at this video and let us know what you think:

Erin Fin, Director of Classroom Prorgams


Current Tutors FAQs

October 19, 2010 at 11:37 AM | Posted in Teaching, Training, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on Current Tutors FAQs

A Task Force of staff is working to update our website and consolidate the Volunteer, Teacher and Tutor tabs as one central resource for all our prospective and current volunteers to share and find information. I’m excited about some of our ideas for upcoming changes to the LCNV website. There’s to be a special section for current volunteers, which in turn be broken down into smaller categories. One of them will consist of questions that tutors frequently ask LCNV staff along with answers to them. I’m making a list of some questions to start things off. Here are the ones I’ve come up with so far:

  • When my student and I have completed the texts originally allotted to us, how do we get others? Will we have to pay for them?
  • Can I use Fairfax County’s inter-library transport system to return books to the Council’s library?
  • How can I find a place to meet with my student?
  • What should I do if the text recommended for use with my student turns out to be inappropriate?
  • If I have a problem, whom should I contact, my Placement Advisor or the Council staff?
  • Can my student and I visit each other’s homes?
  • Can the Council provide a substitute tutor for my student when I’m away?
  • What should I tell somebody who saw me working with my student and wants to be tutored too?
  • Can I access materials in the Council’s library even though I’m unable to get there when it is open?
  • Can my student be in both the Council’s tutoring and classroom programs simultaneously?
  • Where can I get additional training in tutoring and/or teaching English?
  • How do I join the tutor training team?
  • How can I find additional resources to work on a specific skill (e.g., grammar, spelling, pronunciation) with my student?
  • How do I know when it’s time to fill out a Quarterly Report form?
  • My student wants me to help her study for the citizenship test , but I don’t know anything about it. How should I begin?

I’m sure there are many other questions which would be useful to include. Can you think of any? If so, I’d love to hear them.

Elise Bruml, Director of Tutoring Programs

Meeting the Students

October 13, 2010 at 2:14 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, Lesson Plans, Teaching | Comments Off on Meeting the Students

September is a very busy month here at LCNV. There are registrations, there is data entry, and many other things that just consume our time. The most exciting thing, however, happens at the end of September when classes begin and the teachers meet their students. Little by little, the teachers get to know their students, and this is perhaps one of the most important and rewarding parts of the job. It is important to know a little bit about each student because it helps with lesson planning. For example, what if you had a class that was mainly composed of construction workers?  Would you spend so much time teaching them about getting books out of the library or getting a library card? Most likely you would lesson plan to help them build the type of vocabulary that they might hear at work every day. Also, what if you knew that a group of students in your class had almost no schooling and their literacy skills were way too low? In this case you would know that a little more lesson planning is required and that referring them to the ESOL tutoring program is probably the best thing to do.  

I would say that getting to know the student is the most rewarding part of teaching for me. After all, how can you not feel like helping someone when you know that, for example, they migrated to the United States from Afghanistan, and that they never had the chance to go to school? Another example, how can you not feel motivated to help when you know that one of your students was an airplane mechanic back home and is learning English so he can one day obtain his airplane mechanic certification in the U.S. and have a better life? In addition, students can give teachers those moments that I can only describe as priceless. For instance, when one of your students says, in the little English they know, that you are a great teacher and that they are learning a lot. That is the type of recognition that ESOL teachers look for.

-Jose Flores, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Volunteer

Secure Communities

October 7, 2010 at 11:52 PM | Posted in Community, News | Comments Off on Secure Communities

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to NPR when a short piece about ICE’s Secure Communities Program aired. If you’re like me, you’ve heard talk of this federally mandated program, but can’t articulate precisely what it is. So like any other 24 year old in this day and age, I searched Wikipedia. This is the brief description I found:

“In 2007, the program Secure Communities was created within ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency)  to “identify” criminal aliens, “prioritize” them based on the severity of the crime they committed, and “transform” the processes necessary to remove them by increasing efficiency. Secure Communities identifies illegal immigrants with the use of modern technology, notably biometric identification techniques.  When an individual is brought to jail, his or her fingerprints are checked for matches in federal immigration databases and criminal databases. If a match is found, ICE places a detainer on the individual, which is a request that the jail holds that person for up to 48 hours beyond their scheduled release, so that ICE can come to interview or possibly take custody of them.”

Although seemingly benign, the mandate has roused county boards across the country, including Arlington County. Here’s why.

The Secure Communities Program links two databases – the FBI’s and ICE’s – to more efficiently process any individual that has been arrested by local law enforcements. But herein lies the catch: any individual, whether criminal or not, would be fingerprinted if they are taken to jail. If there is any question whether the individual is an unauthorized immigrant, ICE can have the local law enforcement detain the individual until ICE arrives. Ultimately, this could lead to communities being less safe, racial profiling, and dubious relations between local law enforcement s and immigrant communities.

On September 28th, the Arlington County Board approved a resolution stating its intent to withdraw Arlington County from the Secure Communities Program. The County Board explicitly stated that the Arlington County Police Department’s responsibility is to keep the community safe, not enforce federal immigration laws. After a couple of days in limbo, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the final word: no county is able to withdraw from the program. The Washington Post states:

The only way a local jurisdiction could opt out of the program is if a state refused to send fingerprints to the FBI. Since police and prosecutors need to know the criminal histories of people they arrest, it is not realistic for states to withhold fingerprints from the FBI – which means it is impossible to withhold them from ICE.

In fact, DHS is under a Congressional mandate instated during the Bush administration to verify fingerprints collected from every jurisdiction in the nation with the ICE database by 2013. The Arlington County officials have gone to great lengths to make it clear that they don’t support the Secure Communities Program mandate even though it is required by federal law to comply.

If you’re interested in reading a more comprehensive explanation about the Secure Communities Program, I recommend this  article from The Washington Post or the Arlington County webpage.

-Minta Trivette, interim Family Learning Program Specialist

Laurie’s Ideas!

October 6, 2010 at 5:09 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Laurie’s Ideas!

Laurie Hayden is in her second year serving as a volunteer teacher at LCNV’s Mark Center site.  Every fall the Literacy Council holds a new teacher training in which future volunteers spend a Saturday learning about how LCNV does ESOL.  The training is quite multi-faceted: it includes a language-immersion experience for participants in which Serife Turkel, another one of our teachers, gives a lesson to the group entirely in Turkish, her native language.  This was a very memorable experience for all involved and it allowed us the opportunity to experience the type of frustration and the confusion that many of our students experience on a daily basis.

Equally memorable was Laurie Hayden’s presentation.  Laurie, who was a brand new teacher and sitting in our seats just one year ago herself, stood in front of our group and shared all kinds of amazing resources and advice that she garnered over her first year of teaching.  Please take a look at some of her great ideas!  They’ve been a big help to me!

Icebreaker questions ball toss1

Guess who

flashcards food-plural-1

flashcards clothes-1

flashcards actions-1

flashcards actions-2

flashcards actions-3

flashcards action sentences

flashcards action sentences2

flashcard all labels

direction pic labels w. comp sites

Dialogues, grocer,florist,etc

Dialogue post office

Dialogue 1st-5th English class

computer sites

Check writing

Calendar fall 2010

Blank Check Template

wheels adverb

What’s missing pics

pos and neg chart to be and to do

Money making change

Money grocery making change

Lesson Plans 1-5 short notes

Dialogue 1st-5th English class

idiom conversation

Pronoun chart

ideas, ideas


-Alicia Nieves, AmeriCorps Volunteer

We have a new citizen!

October 6, 2010 at 4:08 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on We have a new citizen!

I have been working with my student, Suman Patil, for almost two years. For the past nine months, we have been working on studying for the U.S. citizenship exam. I am thrilled to report that Suman passed the exam without a hitch a few weeks ago. Last Saturday (9/25), she was part of a small group of new citizens who were sworn in during the opening ceremony of the annual multicultural festival in Reston. It was a lovely day, and wonderful experience for us all.

Suman and I are going to keep working together. She wants to learn script, as well as how to deal with driving directions. We are also going to go back to the Reading for Today books so she can continue working on her phonetics, spelling, etc. I think that passing the test really boosted her confidence, and I am hopeful that she’ll take on these challenges with the same spirit she exhibited during these last months.

-Samantha Levine-Finley, Volunteer BAL Tutor

You’re so kind!

October 6, 2010 at 4:01 PM | Posted in Announcements, Development, Donations, Finances | Comments Off on You’re so kind!
Tags: , , ,

A friendly-reminder about in-kind donations as we head into our new school year!  “In-kind giving” refers to contributions of goods and services that are of value to a nonprofit organization, but are not cash. Examples of in-kind gifts are books, classroom supplies, computer equipment and gift cards.

Oftentimes when I send out fundraising emails, I receive responses from volunteer tutors and teachers that they already donate by buying supplies and books for LCNV.  Our volunteers should definitely be counting these as donations! In-kind donations can be writtenoff on their taxes, and it is also good for LCNV to keep track of them in our audited financial statements.  Staff, if you know of an in-kind gift that a volunteer has made, please give them the in-kind donation form and ask them to complete it, make a copy for themselves and turn it into Stacy for tracking in the database.  Stacy will also share this information with Randi.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me or Stacy!  Thanks!

Suzie Eaton, Senior Director of Development

LCNV Calendar: October 2010

October 4, 2010 at 9:37 AM | Posted in Announcements, Community, Volunteers | Comments Off on LCNV Calendar: October 2010
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We made it through another September! October is here, and we welcome this wonderful month with open arms. Well, if it would only stop raining…

We have just one event this month, the ESOL tutor trainings that start on October 16th. 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 October 16, 23, and 30 (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.

Please contact Belle Peñaranda at or 703-237-0866 x111 for more information. You can also visit this page to find out more!

Belle Peñaranda, Director of Volunteers

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