A Recap of the VLLC Conference

March 3, 2011 at 1:38 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Class, Community, ESOL, Family Learning, Lesson Plans, Teaching, Training, Tutoring, Volunteers | 2 Comments
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Last week the four AmeriCorps members as well as Katie Beckman, Elise Bruml, and Patti Donnelly trekked down to Richmond for the annual Virginia Literacy Leadership Council (VLLC) Conference, Feb 24-25.   About eighty adult educators hailing from all over Virginia and representing organizations serving across the spectrum of ABE, GED, and ESOL attended this two-day conference.

The speaker-list included such names as Lauren Ellington and Hillary Major (who should sound familiar if you’ve ever taken a VALRC online training) and Gloria Williams-Brevard (of USCIS, who the AmeriCorps actually had the pleasure of meeting several months ago at an ESOL event hosted by the Thomas Jefferson Library in Falls Church).

One of my favorite presentations was given by Brooke Hammond Perez of Hogar Immigrant Services, an organization based out of Falls Church that provides ESOL, GED, and citizenship instruction for a student body similar to the one that LCNV serves.  As part of their program, every Thursday after English class, a guest speaker (usually some sort of professional from the community) gives a presentation to the students surrounding an applicable topic in his or her field of expertise.  Individuals who have been part of Hogar’s Speaker Series have covered such topics as “Know your Rights” (a discussion of students’ rights regardless of citizenship status), “Personal Finances” (the importance of saving your money), “Domestic Abuse,” “Speaking to your Doctor,” “Getting your GED,” and many more.  It was wonderful to witness a successful program that an organization similar to ours implemented in order to bridge the gap that so often forms between our students and the greater community.   The AmeriCorps are interested in looking into how we can possibly assemble a comparable pilot program at one of our sites.

Tanya Conover of Prince William County Public Schools Adult ESOL program also gave a great presentation on how her organization incorporates writing into their classrooms.  The students write about topics very personal to them – from their lives in their native countries and their relationships with their children, to how they met their spouses and ways they’re adjusting to life in the U.S.  The stories are published in a wonderful compilation entitled: Our Voices, which will also soon be transformed into an audio media with the new name: Our Voices will not be Silent.  I speak for all the AmeriCorps when I say that we found this presentation very valuable and can’t wait to apply some of Tanya’s practices in our classrooms.

Overall, going to the conference was a very valuable experience because we were given the opportunity to interact with adult educators from our community who have the same visions, joys, successes, and struggles that we all experience here at LCNV.  Getting a wider perspective of things happening in our field was very inspiring.

-Alicia Nieves, Lead Teacher and AmeriCorps Member


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