Winter Weather Closing

January 27, 2011 at 8:20 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Winter Weather Closing

The Literacy Council will be closed on January 27 due to poor driving conditions. Have a safe day!

Registration Update

January 25, 2011 at 2:21 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, ESOL, Family Learning, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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Five registrations down, nine to go! So far the Literacy Council has registered about 120 students at our sites in Alexandria, Falls Church, Lorton, Herndon, and Springfield. Our numbers are slightly decreased from the fall, but we are hoping that a large contingent of returning students will show for the first day of class. Tonight we have our remaining Learning Centers registrations. The Learning Centers program is for all adults over the age of 18 who need beginning help with English. The registrations are at the Woodrow Wilson Library in Falls Church, the Lincolnia Senior Center in Alexandria, and at our very own office in the James Lee Community Center.  All the sites will open for registration at 5:30 and will remain open until 8:00. If you know anyone who would like to take English class, send them over!

Next week begins our Family Learning Program registrations. The Family Learning Program offers English classes for adults who have children in their lives. The Family Learning Program sites all offer child care. Below is list of Family Learning Program registration times and locations:

Hollin Hall Senior Center 1500 Shenandoah Rd. Alexandria, VA 22308 January 31 5:30-8:00

Higher Horizons Head Start 5920-B Summers Lane Falls Church, VA 22041 January 31 4:30-7:00

Herndon Fortnightly Library 768 Center St. Herndon, VA 20170 February 1 5:30-8:00

Connections For Hope 13525 Dulles Technology Dr., Suite 103 Herndon, VA 20171 February 1 9:30AM-12:00PM

Woodlawn Elementary School 8505 Highland Lane Alexandria, VA 22309 February 2 5:00-7:30

Crestwood Elementary School 6010 Hanover Ave. Springfield, VA 22150 February 2 9:00-11:30 AM

As of now, all of our sites are open. Late registrations for all locations (both Learning Centers and Family Learning) will occur on February 5th from 3:00 to 6:00 at the James Lee Community Center, 2855 Annandale Rd. Falls Church, VA 22042.

For more information, please call 703-237-0866

A BIG THANK YOU to all our volunteers who have made the registrations go so smoothly!

-Kerrin Epstein, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member

AmeriCorps ReStore: A Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

January 19, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Community | Comments Off on AmeriCorps ReStore: A Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service
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As many of you probably know, all around the DC area, as well as in some other areas of the States, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has formed into the Martin Luther King Day of Service in tribute of Dr. King himself, to promote citizen action through service. This year, like in years past, the AmeriCorps crew, including our partners at Loudon and BEACON Literacy, jumped right on that bandwagon. For the four of us at LCNV, this meant that around 8:30 Monday morning, after carrying out our haphazardly organized carpool plan, we were off to ReStore: Chantilly.

Luckily for us, people around here go bonkers for the Day of Service, so it was not that difficult for us to track down potential service opportunities. After fairly extensive internet plundering, we opted for one of the service opportunities offered by NOVA: working at ReStore. ReStore (something I had never heard of before this!),is a resale outlet store owned and managed by Habitat for Humanity. With stores in 48 states throughout the country as well as in Canada, ReStore resells new and used building and household materials that have been donated to Habitat. As it was explained to us on Monday, the sales of the ReStore in which we worked make up for all Habitat’s administrative costs (often around 40% of every dollar), so 100% of donations can be used toward building. Go ReStore!

So, after we arrived, they showed us the ropes, and we took a run of the place (mostly consisting of “Oh, that would look good in our apartment” or “Ooo, I wonder how much that is” or “We could get a whirlpool into Jose’s trunk, right? Does anyone have some bungee cords?”), we got to work.

Our job centered on the tile/paint/wall paper/carpet swatch aisle. Our mission was simple: organize the tiles and paint. And, after walking to our allocated aisle and standing there looking at the ominously mismatched and heavy looking tiles for about ten minutes, we got down to business.

Needless to say after that initial ten minute stint of nonproductivity, we dove in with gusto. Maybe the paint fumes had finally gotten to me, but after a while, I came to think organizing tiles and stirring and classifying paint cans seemed sort of like lesson planning, a seemingly endless organizational venture with countless influencing factors (Stain or paint? Deductive reasoner or divergent thinker? White tile or cream tile? Listening activity or speaking activity?)… But then again, maybe it was just the fumes.

In the end, with only a few mishaps (think paint splatters in the facial region and garbage dumping fiascos), it really felt good to meet new people and get our hands dirty, even if we were all a bit sore the next day! I, for one, had a great time meeting Harman and seeing Sabrina again, from Loudon Literacy. Talking with them, I realized how easy it is for us four (or me, at least) to forget that there are other AmeriTeams out there on a similar road as us. It felt good to compare stories, if only briefly, and to feel a sense of camaraderie, formed through our AmeriCorps experience.

And finally, after saying our farewells to Harman, Sabrina, and our fellow NOVA servicers and taking the compulsory group AmeriPicture, we took our leave; fatigued and dusty, but definitely proud of the revolutionized tile/paint/wallpaper/carpet swatch aisle. Following a brief stint at the conveniently close Chick-fil-A (Spicy Chicken Sandwich Deluxe, you must have been heaven sent!) we started back home to good ol’ Falls Church.

Physically tired, but with a newly inspired enthusiasm for my future in mosaics, I felt pretty darn good when we called it a day. I’ve always thought that service was the bee’s knees, but this reminded me how good it is to mix it up once in a while; especially when one comes out of such an experience with the wealth of knowledge of the white and beige color families as I did. Ha ha, just kidding…sort of. But seriously, overall, a great day for service! Cricket mallet white, anyone?

Ciao Ciao for now, and happy belated MLK Day!

-Sara Venjohn, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – A National Day of Service

January 18, 2011 at 1:57 PM | Posted in Community, Volunteers | Comments Off on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – A National Day of Service
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The idea of a National Day of Service is a great tribute to our country and a tribute to the many individuals willing to give a day to working on behalf of others.  It is also a great benefit to the many non-profit agencies doing work in our country to help those less fortunate or to build a stronger community. The non-profit sector provides services from housing to food banks, to arts and culture to environmental protection, from math tutoring for sixth graders to literacy education for adults.  If you have a cause you believe in, you can find a way to give your time, talent and treasure to make a difference.

Please let’s not stop with just one day of service once a year.  If you have found an organization that you believe in that needs a talent you can share, consider a longer commitment.  The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia thrives on those who can make a longer commitment.  Working for LCNV is not a one day, once a year activity.  Teaching an adult to read, write, speak or understand English is a process that takes many hours over many months and sometimes many years, and it makes such a difference in the life of the adult learner.

I spoke to a friend who found her passion working in an after school program once a month reading  to children. What a fabulous contribution that works for her, the children, and the non-profit agency.  Consider teaching an adult to read and that same child will not only benefit from the after-school program, but will go home to a household to be read to every night.

Thank you to all who participated in the National Day of Service.  Please take a moment and consider the benefit to you and your neighbors to provide that service all year long.  If you can make a bigger commitment, please consider volunteering for the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.  We would love to have you.

-Patti Donnelly, Executive Director

A Tribute to Sidney Savage

January 18, 2011 at 12:13 PM | Posted in Board, Volunteers | Comments Off on A Tribute to Sidney Savage
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The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia contributed another star to the sky on Wednesday, January 5, 2011 with the passing of Sidney Savage.  Sidney was one of the dedicated, passionate volunteers who worked tirelessly to keep the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, not only functioning, but running like a well-oiled machine.  She was involved in the “early years” of the Literacy Council, but when an organization is turning 50, that covers a lot of territory.  Sidney was an active volunteer on the Board of Directors in the 1980’s, where she served until 2000, and was President of the Board from 1985 – 1987.  She stayed active on the Advisory Board until her passing this year.  When Sidney was President of the Board, Elsa Angel was Executive Director and that dynamic duo secured the safe home of the Literacy Council offices in the James Lee Community Center.  This was one of many brilliant contributions they made together to advance the strength and longevity of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.

When I joined the staff in 2002, Sidney and Elsa, still the dynamic duo, came by within the first month of my employment, took me to lunch, gave me the history of LCNV, and forever after have served as advisors, confidents, friends, donors, and very active volunteers.  In just thinking about the plans for LCNV’s 50th Anniversary, my first call was to Sidney Savage (the second to Elsa Angel!).  How I will miss her!  How much of a legacy Sidney has left to LCNV!

Please look up in the sky every now and then. You will see a bright star shining down on the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.  It’s Sidney, still watching over us, as she did for so many years.  Just whisper a little “thank you!”  She’ll hear it.

Sidney was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on January 18, 2011.  Gifts can be made in her memory to the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia,

-Patti Donnelly, Executive Director

New Strategies for the Winter Session

January 12, 2011 at 4:11 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, ESOL, Family Learning, Graduations, Lesson Plans, Teaching | Comments Off on New Strategies for the Winter Session
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Here at the Literacy Council we are getting ready to start our new session of classes in a few weeks. Seeing some of our students return and meeting new students are some of the most satisfying and exciting parts of starting a new session. It is hard to believe that the fall session has come and gone. I personally learned a lot about teaching, and I will do things a little differently for this upcoming session. I teach two level one classes, and I will try to practice more dialogues with them. Not only will I do more dialogues with my students, but I will also try to slow the pace of my classes. There were certain units which I could have, and probably I should have, spent more time explaining to my students. Of course, the one thing that we teachers always want is more time with our students so maybe this is why I feel that there were certain units I could have done more with. What are you going to do differently this session?

I hope that this winter session we have few interruptions and that we maintain or increase the number of students we had in the fall. It would be great to see a good number of students come back so they can continue to progress. It has been a long break and so those students that do come back are going to need a good review. At the same time, we need to look for some good ice breakers to make the new students feel comfortable in our classrooms. If you have good ice breaker ideas, feel free to share!

-Jose Flores, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member

American Library Association Youth Media Awards

January 11, 2011 at 11:26 AM | Posted in Family Learning, Teaching | Comments Off on American Library Association Youth Media Awards
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Thanks to the wonders of technology I was able to watch part of the live broadcast of the announcement of the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards which are awarded annually at the ALA midwinter conference held in San Diego. The awards were announced on January 10, 2011 at 7:45 a.m. PST and video-streamed on ALA’s website for online viewers to see. The most recognizable of the awards are the Caldecott and Newberry awards which I was lucky enough to catch in time. As each title was mentioned exuberant cheers could be heard from the crowd as if it were the Oscars. In an age where print often feels left in the dust of web-based technologies, this level of excitement about books is quite heartening to book lovers, particularly children’s books lovers. It was thrilling that the same technology that seemingly competes with print allowed me to feel connected to the world of children’s literature (although I would much prefer San Diego’s weather instead of the frigid cold of Northern Virginia). Here is a list of some of the award winners:

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature “Moon over Manifest” by Clare Vanderpool.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children “A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” illustrated by Erin E. Stead and written by Philip C. Stead.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults “Ship Breaker,” written by Paolo Bacigalupi, is the 2011 Printz Award winner.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults “One Crazy Summer,” written by Rita Williams-Garcia (this book was also Newberry Honor Book).   

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award recognizing an African American illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults “Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave,” illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Laban Carrick Hill.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent (Author) Award “Zora and Me,” written by Victoria Bond and T. R. Simon.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent (Illustrator) Award “Seeds of Change,” illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler and written by Jen Cullerton Johnson and published by Lee & Low Books Inc.

Pura Belpré (Author) Award honoring a Latino writer whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience. “The Dreamer,” written by Pam Muñoz Ryan, is the 2011 Belpré Author Award winner. The book is illustrated by Peter Sís.

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience “Grandma’s Gift,” illustrated and written by Eric Velasquez.

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book “Bink and Gollie,” written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile .

For other awards and more details visit ALA’s website

Carisa Pineda, Family Learning Specialist

Reflections on 2010

January 6, 2011 at 11:45 AM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching | Comments Off on Reflections on 2010
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It’s hard to believe that the fall session has already come and gone!  AmeriCorps members have spent many long but incredibly gratifying hours these past several months teaching, lesson planning, and data-entering here at LCNV.  Shortly after our classes commenced for the holiday break and we finished entering in the last bits and pieces of data needed to fulfill various requirements for state uploads and fiscal year binders, we headed off to our respective parts of the country and beyond to spend the holidays with family and friends.

This was the first time I’d been back to Chicago since I moved to Virginia in August.  I’m used to living away from home- for varying periods of time since high school I’ve lived in Michigan, Minnesota, and even Greece- but I love coming home!

Since I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving, everywhere I went I was met with a barrage of inquiry into what I was doing out here, and I realized that in all of the busyness of the session, I hadn’t had the opportunity to reflect on my experience thus far.

While the meaning of my time here at LCNV is hard to put into a few short sentences, I can easily say that it has had and will surely continue to have an important impact on my worldview.  When I tried to explain what I was doing to family and friends the simple “teaching adult ESOL classes” didn’t seem to encompass all that I’ve learned from interacting in the small non-profit community of LCNV; it didn’t say anything about all that my students have taught me about valiance through the twists and turns of life, and it didn’t express the ways I’ve grown as an individual during my first foray into adulthood outside of the shelter of college.

Having two weeks at home was great, but it’s so good to be back; bring on the winter session!

-Alicia Nieves, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member

Back To Work

January 6, 2011 at 11:29 AM | Posted in Basic Literacy, Class, Community, ESOL, Family Learning, Teaching, Training, Tutoring, Volunteers | Comments Off on Back To Work
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I am so happy to be back at work.  There is a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm for a fresh start.   The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, just like a college or university, is gearing up for a new semester of ESOL Classes and new Volunteer Tutoring Training sessions.   It’s a busy, busy time.  Like many organizations, the Literacy Council never stops moving forward.  The transition into the new year seems to provide the momentum to be creative, forward thinking, and passionate about the future.  The staff and board are always looking for ways to strengthen the programs, secure more financial resources, and raise more awareness of adult literacy.

One new direction for The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia is in the Basic Literacy tutoring program, our signature literacy tutoring program.  In response to the changing needs of our community, LCNV will try to better accommodate those adult learners who face learning challenges or learning difficulties.  We have a new Basic Literacy Tutoring Specialist, Molly Chilton, who has extensive experience working in special education.

In the classroom program, we are adding another Conversation Class for those ESOL adult learners who want to continue practicing their English speaking skills outside of the classroom.  This semester we will be offering four conversation classes: two at the James Lee Center, one at the Mark Center club, and a new class at Fair Hill Elementary School.

That is just a quick sampling of progress at the Literacy Council.  Stay tuned to receive continued updates on how the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia serves the beginning level literacy and language needs in our community.  Happy New Year.

-Patti Donnelly, Executive Director

A Good Year for Literacy Live! 2010 In Review

January 5, 2011 at 2:17 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Good Year for Literacy Live! 2010 In Review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how Literacy Live! did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,300 times in 2010. That’s about 10 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 135 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 183 posts. There were 169 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 122mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 23rd with 67 views. The most popular post that day was New Teachers.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for minta trivette, shake hand logo, literacy live, english con salsa, and grammar chants.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


New Teachers September 2010
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Literacy Council’s library catalogue now available online February 2010


About July 2009


Ice Breaker Ideas For The First Day Of Class September 2009


Learn some new activities to use with your students! September 2009

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