One Month until Reading: A Family Affair!

January 30, 2013 at 5:44 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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You may know the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia for its great work at teaching English to adults.  However, in March, we have an event for families.  It’s called Reading: A Family Affair (RAFA). It’s only one month away so mark your calendars now for a fun-filled time on Saturday, March 2. This family event brings books to life through the amazing talent of local dancers, magicians, storytellers, puppeteers, musicians and through interactive play. And there will be a very special guest – WETA’s Clifford the Big Red Dog!  Your kids will love to have their picture taken with Clifford!

RAFA is being held at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The theater is transformed into Verizon’s ‘SEE a Book’ Theater where you will see performances by Groovy Nate, Kalavaridhi Dance, Kaydee Puppets, and Tom Lilly and the One Step MagiCompany. In the ‘HEAR a Book’ Room, you will be entertained by storytellers – Sing Books with Emily, Jane Dorfman, Zurii Conroy, and Lulu Delacre. There is audience participation in the ‘BECOME a Book’ Room with Oh Susannah!, The Rainbow Company, and the Goodlife Theater. If your children are into electronics, you can always visit the ‘CLICK a Book’ Room where there will be family computer activities to play. And lastly, the ‘READ & WRITE a Book’ Room is where kids can write or read a story (each child gets to pick out a book to take home).  There is something for everyone! All we ask is for a suggested donation of $5 per family to benefit the Literacy Council’s Student Scholarship & Advancement Fund.

We look forward to seeing you on March 2nd between 9:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at the James Lee Community Center!  To make sure you see your favorite performer, check out the day’s schedule here: http://www.lcnv.org/events/rafa.

Mary Tack, Development Assistant
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

Feeding Fairfax Families

January 28, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Since 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national day of service. As part of our year of serving in AmeriCorps at Loudoun Literacy Council, Carrie Robinson and I participated in the National Day of Service this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

While others enjoyed the day off or watched the inauguration, we met at 9:00 AM at the Shoppers in Herndon, Virginia to volunteer with Fairfax County “Stuff the Bus: Feeding Fairfax Families” for Reston Interfaith. Reston Interfaith’s mission is to help people build more stable lives by connecting them to vital resources that solve their needs for housing, childcare, food or financial assistance. After the holidays, many food pantries in Fairfax County drop to their lowest points. Throughout Fairfax County in January and February, there are food drives to collect food for area nonprofits and food pantries, and Fastran provides the buses to collect donations.

From 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM on Monday, Carrie and I, along with two AmeriCorps members from BEACON for Adult Literacy handed out fliers about the “Stuff the Bus” to shoppers as they entered the grocery store. The fliers had a list of items that shoppers could buy and then donate to Reston Interfaith as they left the store. There were also $5 bags already filled with needed items that shoppers could purchase at the checkout lines, or they could give monetary donations. We also helped to collect donations that were loaded on the bus.

Though our feet were tired after seven hours of standing, we truly enjoyed our experience. First, we were quite surprised by the unexpected generosity of people for buying items while doing their personal shopping, buying the $5 bags if they were in a rush, or giving money on their way out. There was one couple that even bought a cart full of items to donate! Also, we met people who use Reston Interfaith’s Emergency Food Pantry, met people who wanted information on services of Reston Interfaith for their own families, and met people who could barely afford to take care of their own families. One lesson we took away from this experience is to always take time to listen to others giving out information, as sometimes, it is to help people in need. At the end of the day, Carrie and I both bought a bag to help support Reston Interfaith’s food drive.

Overall, our day of service was a reminder of how generous people can be, and a reminder of being humble and appreciating what we have.

Susan Pilley, AmeriCorps Instructor
Loudoun Literacy Council
17 Royal Street SW
Leesburg, VA 20175

www.loudounliteracy.org

Teaching Vocabulary to Low-Level ESOL Learners

January 26, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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We hope that you found your initial tutor or teacher training workshop to be worthwhile.  We also hope that you view it as only the first step in an ongoing professional development process which will continue throughout your tutoring and that you will take advantage of additional training opportunities, both within and outside of LCNV. These will broaden and further hone your tutoring and teaching skills, enabling you to better serve your student while simultaneously enriching your own volunteer experience. Indeed, volunteers often tell us that they find such subsequent training to be especially valuable  since they are now able to  bring their experiences to bear on what is being presented.

Each year LCNV provides several free in-service training opportunities at the James Lee Community Center. One such workshop is coming up on Saturday, February 9, from 1:00 – 4:00 pm. David Red will present “Teaching Vocabulary to Low-Level ESOL Learners” David is the former Coordinator of Fairfax County’s Adult ESOL Program and a former LCNV ESOL trainer. He is currently the Director of Curriculum and Staff Development at the Foreign Service Institute. The workshop will focus on:

  • Emphasizing meaningful communication at low levels of comprehension,

  • Techniques for introducing new vocabulary in a “story” format, and

  • Incorporating the reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in a short lesson.

This in-service is most useful for instructors with students in the ESOL tutoring and classroom programs, but BAL volunteers are, of course, welcome to attend.

To attend this workshop, please register in advance by emailing info@lcnv.org or calling 703-237-0866.

Elise Bruml
Director of Tutoring Programs
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

Things Are Getting Better

January 24, 2013 at 12:30 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Much of what we focus on in the classroom is helping our learners improve their English language life skills or survival skills – scheduling a doctor’s appointment, reading a bus schedule, filling out a form. For the father who relies on his child to read the medicine label and for the adult who cares for her elderly parent, it is independence and resourcefulness that they gain from such an emphasis on relevant and meaningful life skills-based instruction. It’s part of the Literacy Council’s mission to foster more fully participating members of the community.

In addition to being a tool for meeting everyday needs, the English language is also a vehicle for our learners to share their stories, their thoughts and feelings. Cultural exchange aside, what is it they would like to say? So, for a final assignment, I asked learners to write a letter on any topic and mail it to me at the Literacy Council office. Huong Ngo, a learner in one of my classes last fall, shared the following song with me.

Things Are Getting Better

Things are getting better, much better.

Things are getting better every day.

I’m glad.

The homework is getting easier, much easier.

The homework is getting easier every day.

That’s good.

Your English is improving.

Your writing is getting stronger.

Your grammar is getting better every day.

Hooray!

Your accent is getting better, much better.

Your accent is getting better every day.

Hooray!

Looking ahead to the start of a new term this month, I resolve to do my part as an AmeriCorps member, as an ESOL Learning Centers instructor to make sure things get better, to make sure things get easier for our learners here at LCNV.

If you know someone who could benefit from our English classes, please tell them about our upcoming registrations on January 29 and 30 (6:00 – 8:00 pm in Alexandria), January 31 (9:30 – 11:30 am in Herndon) or February 2 (3:00 – 6:00 pm in Falls Church). We are also in need of volunteer teachers and class aides. Please contact 703-237-0866 x 111 or volunteers@lcnv.org for more information, or to register for a volunteer training on Saturday, January 26.

Xavier Muñoz, AmeriCorps Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

National Day of Service 2013

January 22, 2013 at 2:02 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Lincolnia Graduation Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” These powerful words have made me reflect about the work that I do and the students that I teach here at the Literacy Council.

Too often in society, individuals and groups are judged based on skin color, language, cultures, and backgrounds. In fact, many would argue that it is simply human nature to judge someone before you even get to know them, or even speak to them. During the Civil Rights Era, in the 1950s and 60s—and certainly prior—negative judgment was heaped upon racial groups; many naively believed that race dictated one’s character, one’s ability, one’s identity. A half-century later, one could argue that we have come a long way, but still have a long way to go.

Thinking about my students, I have no doubt that they may feel similarly judged on a day-to-day basis. Because of their language ability or unique cultural backgrounds, many could arguably see them as lesser in character, in ability, or in identity.

After meeting many of our students and building growing relationships with them, I am adamant in the belief that they should not be seen in a negative lens because of their language or cultural background. On the contrary, I, like King, have a hope that these unique backgrounds will one day be praised for the depth it can add to one’s character, instead of being derided. I hope that my students will live in a world where they can be respected for what they have to offer and not be hindered by their language ability.  Our students are often an untapped resource in our community simply bursting with potential. In the words of King, they deserve to live in a world in which they are judged only on the “content of their character.”

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I had the opportunity to serve during the National Day of Service, a day in which people get out and give back to the community.  I served with my fellow AmeriCorps members at A-SPAN, an Arlington emergency shelter.  We were given the tasks of organizing their donated clothing, cleaning the facilities, and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their clients.  During this time, I had the chance to reflect on both why I teach and on character.  On the former point, I feel that my mission and passion is to help people and make a difference. I am thankful to be living in this great nation and for the opportunity to serve with AmeriCorps and make a positive difference in many lives. On the latter point, I realized that if only people focused on character, and not on judgment, days like the National Day of Service could be far more widespread and impact so many more. If judgments were left at the door, people would be willing to shatter barriers that we spend so much time building up, and join hands with those around them in the service of others.

I appreciate the bravery of Martin Luther King Jr. and the courage of his actions.  I appreciate his drive and determination to break down discriminatory barriers. His resounding words have given a voice to so many, like my students, who may be marginalized and judged. For this simple fact, his actions will always be remembered.

Katie Trizna, AmeriCorps Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

LCNV’s Successful AmeriCorps Program

January 20, 2013 at 7:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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AC 2In the first 100 days of the first term of his administration, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act – the boldest national service legislation since the era of FDR. The bill promised to more than triple AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000 AmeriCorps by 2017, to grow Senior Corps, and to advance impact volunteerism and proven social innovation.

LCNV applies for AmeriCorps funding through a competitive grant process with the Virginia State Office of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which allows four AmeriCorps members the opportunity to serve at LCNV. Without this funding, 12 class locations would lose their lead teachers, thousands of service hours worth of ESOL curriculum development, data entry, community outreach, and volunteer management would vanish, and the number of adult learners the program could reach would drop by more than half. And that is just at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia! Check out this article on huffingtonpost.com to find out what would happen nationwide if AmeriCorps was eliminated.

Additionally, LCNV uses its capacity to serve as the applicant and fiscal agent for this grant to benefit Loudoun Literacy Council (LLC) and BEACON for Adult Literacy in Prince William County, securing four more AmeriCorps members – two to serve with LLC and two to serve with BEACON. All three organizations recruit AmeriCorps members in March of each year who will serve for one year (September to August) as lead classroom instructors, teaching the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English. AmeriCorps members are fully trained and have the opportunity to supervise volunteers, collaborate with site partners, and participate substantively in organizational management.

In his 2012 victory speech, President Obama said: “The role of ‘citizen’ in our democracy does not end with your vote. America has never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together.” Let’s hope that with our efforts we can ensure the future of National Service Programs so that generations to come can continue on with the proud tradition of Getting Things Done for America.

If you or someone you know would like more information about AmeriCorps and how to apply, visit www.americorps.gov and submit your application to the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia program. Contact us directly at americorps@lcnv.org in case of inquiries.

Rachel Martin, AmeriCorps Instructor, and Suzie Eaton, Senior Director of Development
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

Help Your Students Communicate with their Children’s Schools

January 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DSC00727We hope that you found your initial tutor or teacher training workshop to be worthwhile.  We also hope that you view it as only the first step in an ongoing professional development process which will continue throughout your tutoring and that you will take advantage of additional training opportunities, both within and outside of LCNV. These will broaden and further hone your tutoring and teaching skills, enabling you to better serve your student while simultaneously enriching your own volunteer experience. Indeed, volunteers often tell us that they find such subsequent training to be especially valuable  since they are now able to  bring their experiences to bear on what is being presented.

Each year LCNV provides several free in-service training opportunities at the James Lee Community Center. One such workshop is coming up on Monday, January 28, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Many of our students who are parents find dealing with their children’s schools to be an intimidating and bewildering process.  “Helping Your Students Communicate with their Children’s Schools” is designed to provide you with information that will help your student overcome this problem. Molly Chilton, LCNV’s former Basic Literacy Program Specialist, and Carisa Pineda, LCNV’s Family Learning Program Specialist, will lead this presentation on common issues faced by parents, which include: expectations for students in different grades; resources available to students and parents; rights of parents; and communicating with schools and teachers.

This in-service is useful for both tutors and teachers working with students who are parents of school-age children. To attend this workshop, please register in advance by emailing info@lcnv.org or calling 703-237-0866.

Elise Bruml
Director of Tutoring Programs
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

Graduation – in one way or another

January 16, 2013 at 11:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

ImageEach LCNV class site hosts an end-of-term graduation party. Students, volunteers, and staff bring food, drinks, and, most importantly, their spirit to celebrate. The week of December 17th was my first time taking part in the festivities. In my eyes, each party was an opportunity to celebrate LCNV English language learners. We sang songs, and we shared the food and experiences of Cuba, Afghanistan, Somalia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Guatemala, El Salvador, and many other countries.

LCNV English language learners work. They have families to support, elderly parents and children to care for. And even with all of those commitments, they have been committed to learning English. 13 weeks, 24 classes, 48 hours of in-class instruction. They continually showed us that they understand the importance of English in their lives, the ability to empower them(selves) to participate more fully and confidently in their communities.

The parties are called graduations because we have some students that graduate out of LCNV’s beginning level programs and move on to Fairfax County Public Schools Adult and Community Education classes for intermediate and advanced instruction. From the classes for which I serve as the lead teacher, there were 12 graduating students! We know all of them will succeed in advancing their ESOL education.

But even those who will continue their education with LCNV have graduated in one way or another, advanced to a new level of achievement. I would love to take credit for Mariam’s* progress, but I know that she deserves all the credit – she worked so hard in and out of class. It was as if all she needed was some exposure to English and an environment accommodating to a beginning-level learner. The sky’s the limit for Mariam. Magdalena, on the other hand, sometimes felt discouraged by her progress this term. But she displayed increasing confidence in her English skills by speaking more and more in class. She became more adept at using her learning strategy of echoing – listening to English words and phrases spoken from the mouths of a native speaker, feeling them being produced by her own. No two language learners will progress at the same speed or benefit from the same activities and lessons. Her achievements, just like those of Mariam’s and the graduating students’, are all ones to be recognized and celebrated.

Thank you to the volunteers with whom I have the pleasure of working. Our classes would not be possible without you. Thank you, dear reader, for your interest in and support of the LCNV mission. And thank you to our learners for filling our classrooms with your life stories, for pushing teachers like me and my fellow AmeriCorps members to improve and to provide even better guidance and instruction.

I’m looking forward to LCNV’s next semester of English classes, which are registering students now through January 30! Please help us spread the word to adults who need to learn English or to adults who would like to volunteer to help others learn English by sharing the class schedule or telling them to call 703-237-0866.

Xavier Muñoz
AmeriCorps Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

*name changed by request

Get Connected: LCNV’s Winter 2013 Newsletter

January 14, 2013 at 9:05 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ACTION

LCNV’s Winter 2013 Newsletter is online now! Want to receive it via email? Click here!

In this issue:

Donor Spotlight: Fairfax County

January 9, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Seal_Color_HighRes_3inchMore than one million people live in the nearly 400 square-miles commonly known as Northern Virginia. Thirty-five percent of them are learning English as a second language. Thousands of them have been helped by the support of Fairfax County and its Consolidated Community Funding Pool (CCFP). Fairfax County has been a steadfast partner to the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, ensuring our adult students have reliable access to regularly-scheduled, high-quality, outcomes-based literacy and English language instruction.

Fairfax County’s Consolidated Community Funding Pool supports projects focused on providing, acquiring, and rehabilitating affordable housing and on providing human services. The Consolidated Community Funding Advisory Committee (CCFAC) manages all aspects of CCFP’s proposal review, grant making, policy setting. The CCFAC is composed of Fairfax County citizens and representatives from the Fairfax County Human Services Boards and Commissions. The fund was established in 1997.

In addition, Fairfax County also provides in-kind office space at the James Lee Community Center to LCNV. This has been an enormous help in keeping LCNV’s operational costs as low as they are.

LCNV thanks Fairfax County for its generous support, as well as its other partners in its 50th Anniversary Legacy Circle, all of whom have given in excess of $50,000 to LCNV over the last 10 years!

Suzie Eaton
Senior Director of Development
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

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