Add-in Registrations for Family Learning Program

March 29, 2011 at 3:39 PM | Posted in Announcements, Family Learning, Teaching | Comments Off on Add-in Registrations for Family Learning Program
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The Family Learning Program offers English classes for adults with children in their lives. Child care is available for children ages 2-12. In mid-April, the Family Learning Program will be having add-in registrations.  Learners will have the opportunity to add in to the spring semester of classes at a reduced cost.  Space is very limited!

Please click on the link below for information on registration locations, dates, and times:

FLP Class Schedule_Add-in Spring 2011

Questions? Call 703-237-0866

Another Successful Reading: A Family Affair

March 24, 2011 at 2:32 PM | Posted in Community, donations, Donors, ESOL, Family Learning, RAFA, Volunteers | Comments Off on Another Successful Reading: A Family Affair
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“Thank you for the free book and a great morning!,” “Thanks for doing this wonderful program!,” “Clifford gave me a high five!.” These are just a few of the comments heard throughout the James Lee Community Center last Saturday, when 600 children and parents filled the hallways to experience books coming to life at LCNV‘s 5th Annual Reading: A Family Affair.  Thanks to our visitors, donors, staff, and over 50 volunteers, the event was a huge success! Emily Gleichenhaus of “Sing Books with Emily” commented, “As a former event planner, I was impressed with the organization and flow of the event and activities.  And the facility and stations were wonderfully staffed by friendly and helpful volunteers.” Check out Emily’s blog for more on her take of RAFA.

From musicians and dancers to puppeteers and storytellers (and Clifford, of course!), there was something for kids of all ages to enjoy.  New performers at this year’s RAFA included Emily Gleichenhaus of “Sing Books with Emily,” who delighted kids of all ages with her songs based on picture books, and Bob Brown Puppets, whose show “The Reluctant Dragon” was punctuated by audience laughter and applause. LCNV also introduced dance to this year’s event, with the Bolivian dance troupe Fraternidad Cultural Pachamama and senior students from the Kalavaridhi Indian dance school captivating a full house. Storytellers Diane Macklin and authors Lulu Delacre, Mary Quattlebaum, and Tom Angleberger were also big hits, with families with upper-elementary aged children giving especially rave reviews of Tom’s interactive program based on his book, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. One parent said, “Tom was the highlight of RAFA for my 8 1/2 year old son and his buddy.  While the whole family enjoyed the Indian dancers and other activities, Tom’s presentation was especially meaningful to my son who was worried there wouldn’t be enough for ‘older kids like him’ to do.” And last but not least, RAFA veterans The Rainbow Entertainment Company got kids moving with their lively reader’s theater.

Reading: A Family Affair was a true community collaboration, and LCNV is grateful for the support and enthusiasm of the James Lee Community Center staff, LCNV volunteers, RAFA performers, our event sponsors and in-kind donors*,  and of course the children and parents who attended the event! We hope to see you next March for the 6th annual Reading: A Family Affair!

*Event Sponsors: Verizon, Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services, WETA Kids, Don Beyer Volvo, Target, Dominion, Crystal City-Pentagon Rotary Club; In kind Donors: Congregation of Floris United Methodist Church, Cosi, Day and Night Printing, Inc., Giant, Safeway, Gimme Dem Cupcakes, Harris Teeter, Jason’s Deli.

-Stacy Nall, Development Specialist

Going to the Doctor Activity

March 23, 2011 at 12:17 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, Family Learning, Lesson Plans, Teaching | 1 Comment
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Last week, I finished up the health unit with my Family Learning class. We had learned a series of dialogues for visiting the doctor including how to make an appointment, how to describe symptoms to the doctor, and how to fill a prescription at the pharmacy. To review these dialogues, I made stations all around the classroom to reflect the process of going to the doctor and getting a prescription. Before the students circulated through the stations, they all picked out an illness written on an index card from an envelope.

At station one, students either looked up a physician in the phone book or found a free clinic using a website loaded on my computer ( They then wrote down the phone number and using old, unconnected phones made an appointment to see the doctor (I had a student act as the doctor).

At station two, “the waiting room,” students signed in with the receptionist (my class aide) and filled out a medical health history form.

At station three, “the examination room,” students described their symptoms to the doctor (another student). The doctor then wrote a prescription on a mock prescription pad.

At station four, “the pharmacy,” students told the pharmacist that they needed to fill a prescription. The pharmacist (a student) would ask to see their prescription as well as their insurance card.

At station five, also “the pharmacy,” students told the pharmacist they needed to pick up their prescription. The pharmacist would then hand the student their medicine…chocolate!

As the students collected their candy, I noticed a lot of giggling from the pharmacy corner of the room. The student acting as the doctor had written a special prescription for each student, 1 chocolate, 1x a day, x10 days.

My class enjoyed this activity, and it was an effective way to practice the conversational skills needed to visit the doctor.

-Kerrin Epstein, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member

Family Learning Success Story

March 21, 2011 at 11:07 AM | Posted in Class, Community, Family Learning, Student Stories, Teaching, Testing, Volunteers | Comments Off on Family Learning Success Story
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I was recently asked by Elizabeth Magee the lead teacher at Crestwood Family Learning class to come and test a student because her due date was approaching quickly.   The intent of the test (normally given at the end of the semester) was to give a sense of closure to the student, the teachers, and also tie things up administratively.  I arrived at class shortly after the school nurse had concluded a presentation to the class; a few students were still having their blood pressure checked by the nurse.  I sat down with Conchi to test her and we chatted; her due date is March 30 and she is expecting another girl.  As we went through the questions of the oral test, she answered some questions quite well and like many intermediate students, struggled with others.  As a test administrator you are expected to remain objective, but when we reached a question about how parents can help their children in school, I had a hard time keeping myself from beaming when she answered, “We can read to them and write.”  Although the test measures the way students produce and construct the spoken English language and there aren’t “right” or “wrong” answers in terms of content, as a family literacy professional this answer was the gold standard.  Even though the content of Conchi’s answer won’t necessarily be reflected when her scores are imputed and calculated by the software we use, it is through this interaction with her that I know that the Family Learning program is succeeding and going beyond pure language acquisition and is teaching concepts that influence an entire family: her two year old daughter and her daughter on the way.  

-Carisa Pineda, Family Learning Specialist

Stepping Stones

March 17, 2011 at 3:13 PM | Posted in Community, Student Stories, Teaching, Tutoring | 5 Comments
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This essay is about my interest in welding and fabrication. I became interested in welding when I was 13 years old. I saw a TV special on Jesse James on the Discovery Channel. He showed his custom motorcycles and custom classic cars and how he made them. He gave me the desire to pursue my new passion.       

I rode a two-wheeler when I was two years old.  That led to teaching myself to take apart and rebuild bicycles.  I went from fixing a flat tire to making “Frankenstein” bikes to making custom chopper bikes.  To take it to the next step, I needed to learn how to weld and cut efficiently.  My Uncle Stephan gave me the first opportunity to weld. When I was about 16 years old, he taught me how to weld for the first time. We were using a Mig welder.  We cut out and welded a bike frame together.  He also taught my 12 year old brother.  We surprised him with how well we picked it up.

About a week after Uncle Stephan’s I went to Postsecondary Education Rehabilitation Transition (PERT) to do some vocational training. I did workshops in welding, mechanics, auto body and biology.  In welding I had to weld several passes on a plate and make the welds consistent.  In mechanics I had to take apart a small engine and put it back together correctly , without any missing pieces. In the Auto Body workshop they had me repair a dent by applying body filler and sanding it down until the dent was no longer visible and flush with the panel. In Biology I took pH tests on water, planted flowers and other general plants to see if I had the technique correct.    

My early experiences during my school days prepared me for the wide variety of careers that I chose to explore.  My Junior and Senior years of high school were the two busiest years.  Junior year I started auto collision class at Chantilly High School.  In that class I learned advanced skills, like how to work on various vehicles and custom body panels.  I also participated in dual enrollment at college midway through Junior year by taking various welding courses at the college.  Senior year I continued with college and high school together while working different jobs.

At the Fairfax County Garage I worked as a mechanic on school buses during high school.  My next employment was when I maintained and welded heavy equipment, and performed preventative maintenance and welding on stationary and mobile equipment (rock crushers, large conveyor belt systems) at Luckstone.  Those two jobs have put me on the path for the line of work I do today.

My current job is welding and maintenance for Fairfax County Solid Waste and Recycling.  I want to advance my career in any way possible.  Although reading and writing have always been difficult for me at my jobs, I have managed to get by.  I realized that I needed to improve those skills so I requested a tutor from the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, and we have been meeting for about a year now.  I think I have improved, but I still have some “speed bumps” to work through.  My goal is to have the confidence to read a set of plans and comprehend all of the words so that I can summarize the information.

-Matt Burke, Student

Teaching Level 1

March 15, 2011 at 1:23 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, ESOL, Family Learning, Lesson Plans, Teaching | Comments Off on Teaching Level 1
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One of the hardest things to do is teach those students that have little or no English. The challenges are many. You want these students to have a good start and to have the confidence necessary to continue learning. The following are examples of activities I have been doing in my two level one classes. First of all, I think it helps to have a “routine,” so the students know what to expect. I start my classes with “discussion questions” such as, “how is the weather outside?” and “what did you do this weekend?” I find that these two questions get the students to say something. Secondly, I go over the homework. This is really a great way to review what was discussed during the previous class. I always choose students to go over homework randomly.  This is a great way to check if there are any areas that really need to be reinforced. Third, I try to have different types of activities for a new lesson. If at all possible, I include one activity with a partner, one activity that gets the students off their seats, and one class activity. Finally, I spend the last 10 minutes of class going over what the students will need to do for homework. If the homework is from the workbook, we do a number of problems from each section. What do you do differently? 

-José Flores, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member

Level 3 teacher needed!

March 14, 2011 at 11:32 AM | Posted in Class, Teaching, Volunteers | Comments Off on Level 3 teacher needed!
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The LCNV is looking for a volunteer level 3 teacher for Wednesday nights from 6:30-8:30 at the Lorton Senior Center. The Lorton Senior Center is located in Gunston Plaza. To find out more about becoming a volunteer teacher please follow this link:

If you are interested in volunteering, please email



Health Literacy Resources

March 14, 2011 at 11:00 AM | Posted in Community, Training, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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We’ve been receiving tons of great feedback about Kate Singleton’s Health Literacy Workshop last month and we wanted to follow-up with some of resources here for your reference.

Overall, people were interested in local options for low-cost healthcare and then we’ll follow-up with a series of links.  So here are her suggestions:

-About the Northern VA Low Cost Care Resources List: For Teachers re Resource List

-the list: Northern VA Low Cost Care Resources Feb 14 2011

Kate also noted, teachers might be interested in some statistics from her ESL presentations to lower level adult students in Arlington.  Out of 300 students, 78% were uninsured, 15% had not been to a doctor in their native country, and 68% had no doctor in the United States.  About 10 of the 300 acknowledged having heard of the Arlington Free Clinic.  It is always startling how few people know of the local clinics who might qualify for their services.

Other important links for your reference:

Information on Patient Rights

Teaching Resources

Cultural Views

Please feel free to start or continue discussion about the workshop in the comments below!  Thank you all for attending!

If you have any other questions, feel free to email Kate directly:

Health Literacy Specialist for Northern Virginia Health Literacy Initiative, Inova Health Sciences Library and ER Trauma Social Worker, Inova Fairfax Hospital Case Management Department or

Katie Beckman, Program Assistant


March 10, 2011 at 3:04 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Staff, Teaching | Comments Off on Reunion
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This week, I returned from a vacation to Nashville, TN where I joined LCNV’s 2007-08 AmeriCorps Alumni for our friend, Karen’s wedding.  It was a blast; there’s nothing better than a reunion with some of my favorite people on the planet.  Karen was part of our AmeriCorps team the first year we expanded to four members and it was an amazing time to be a teacher.  Traversing the county to teach, toiling over data entry and in the most epic staff meetings, we got to know each other and really make a difference in our service delivery.  Some of you may have worked with her as a volunteer at Sherwood Hall Library or Crestwood Elementary before she moved to Nashville and to start law school at Vanderbilt University.


Karen, Chuck, Jenn, Nick, and I had a great time teaching together and starting many of the projects that have helped reshape the classroom program and our own life trajectories.  Karen is a beautiful blend of incredible intellectual capacity and compassion.  When you have a conversation with her, you can see how quickly her brain is working and you can hear the locks clicking open.  Karen is dynamic, challenging and energetic; and just as good, her husband, Brad, is completely her equal and brings out the very best in her.


After our year teaching together, roadtrips, and many phone calls catching up and contemplating life decisions, I look back at the friends I have from my AmeriCorps year and feel so lucky for the opportunities we’ve shared.  As we’ve initiated new members in the years since, I see so many of us going on to incredible positions, engaging and helping the community.  I hope with all the federal budget cuts around, we can still offer opportunities for smart young adults to provide great service and reach their potential.

Katie Beckman, Program Assistant

Thank you to RAFA Planning Committees

March 9, 2011 at 11:04 AM | Posted in Calendar, Community, donations, RAFA, Volunteers | Comments Off on Thank you to RAFA Planning Committees
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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

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