September Closings

August 30, 2013 at 11:56 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The James Lee Community Center will be closed Aug. 31-Sep. 2, 2013 for Labor Day weekend, so the LCNV offices will be closed too. Happy Holiday!

Appreciation, Opportunity, Reinvigorated

August 28, 2013 at 11:55 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
AmeriCorps 2012 members farewell_8Aug2013_4

2012 AmeriCorps Instructors (l to r)
Katherine Lee, Xavier Munoz, Rachel Conn Martin and Katie Trizna

It’s been a privilege for me to serve as an AmeriCorps member at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia the past eleven months. But my work here is not done. There is still so much more than I can gain and contribute, which is why I will be serving a second year as an LCNV AmeriCorps member! But looking back on my first service year, I can sum up my experience so far in three words –appreciation, opportunity, and reinvigorated.

Appreciation

LCNV’s volunteers are downright amazing. At our class sites, I’ve gotten to work alongside retired public school teachers with an undying passion for teaching, individuals that work full time, and lifelong volunteers who have volunteered with LCNV for over a decade. But there are other volunteers with whom I’ve also interacted:

  • Volunteer Placement Advisors in the Basic Adult Literacy and ESOL Tutoring Programs test new students, match students with tutors, and provide ongoing support to the tutor-student pairs. If one thinks of tutors programs as neighbors helping neighbors. Then the PAs are neighbors helping neighbors helping neighbors.
  • Outreach volunteers go to events like the recent Annandale High School Pyramid Back to School Resource Fair to raise awareness of LCNV as a quality place that supports parents and adults in the community.
  • Office volunteers come in on a weekly basis to help with IT, run the library, and offer other departmental support.
  • Susan Kral was the AmeriCorps Program Coordinator the past three years for LCNV, Loudoun Literacy Council, and BEACON for Adult Literacy. As if managing the AmeriCorps federal grant wasn’t enough of a task for a volunteer, she also acted as a “mama bear” for me and the other AmeriCorps members.

I’m left inspired by how committed to service these volunteers are. And I have a new understanding of how invaluable a robust core of volunteers is to the longevity and success of a nonprofit organization.

Opportunity

My one expectation for the year was to gain experience teaching ESOL to adults. LCNV has given me teaching experience and then some. I’ve been able to represent LCNV in a number of ways beyond my primary role as an ESOL classroom instructor: co-presenting on behalf of LCNV at the 2013 Virginia Literacy Leadership Council conference, playing a small role in LCNV’s The Washington Post award honorable mention, and doing a TV spot on LCNV’s classes and learners.

With immigration reform coming to a head, there is an opportunity for adult education to become a larger part of the national discussion. LCNV and other adult education providers will be called upon to play a crucial role in helping adults participate more fully in their communities and workplaces. As a second-year AmeriCorps member, I will be able to help LCNV lead that discussion.

Reinvigorated

Setting aside community service that was required in high school, I started to volunteer only a year or two ago. As a college graduate with no job, I volunteered in an attempt to make my academic background useful. I also volunteered with the hopes that it would improve my chances of being admitted to grad school.

In the winter of 2012, I became an adult literacy tutor with I CAN Community Education Coalition which is a nonprofit based in Hillsborough County, Florida. I worked one-on-one with a gentleman from Jamaica. Every tutoring session left me with new questions. How could I help him master this-or-that syllable structure? What activities could we do to make two-digit multiplication come alive for him? I was challenged to become a better educator as much as, if not more than, he was challenged to learn.

And, through tutoring him, all of my coursework in psychology, linguistics, and speech-language pathology suddenly became more relevant. What I was doing became meaningful. And that fulfillment has only increased over this past AmeriCorps service year. In college, I studied for myself. At I CAN before and with LCNV now, I study for the adults I serve. I’ve stopped thinking about expanding my resume and beefing up my grad school applications. Instead, I’m thinking about what I need to do to make each class better than the last.

In truth, I never dreamed of becoming a teacher when I was younger. But serving in adult education has jumpstarted my interests and motivated me to improve myself for the sake of those I serve. Working in adult education just feels right. And so, I plan to start an M.A. in TESOL in the fall of 2014. Until then, I’m continuing on as a second-year AmeriCorps member because I want to be a part of LCNV’s continued growth and success. I’m continuing on for a second year because I want to be there with LCNV’s learners as they continue to “participate more fully and confidently in their communities” and in their lives.

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

Passion and Perseverance

August 28, 2013 at 11:53 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lincolnia Students

This term of service with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia is my fourth term of service with AmeriCorps.  After every term I find it difficult to look back and reflect on what I have done, mostly because an AmeriCorps year is designed to be intensive, so everything seems a bit blurry by the end.  Corps members are thrown into the thick of it and are expected to effectively tackle the issues at hand largely on their own.  It seems insurmountable at first but then there are those moments that make you realize how much you are gaining from the experience – and not resume building skills (though of course that is a bonus) – but the people you meet, the communities you become a part of, and the struggles you experience that challenge your ways of thinking and force you to question and to strive for something better.

When I look back on this year, I won’t remember the late nights, the hours of lesson planning, the activities that crashed and burned in my classroom, or the monotonous data entry. I will remember my students, their stories, their incredible work ethic, their sincere appreciation, and their hopes and dreams for what their life could look like in the United States.   I hope to always remember that passion and perseverance and take it with me as I move forward.

Rachel Conn Martin, AmeriCorps Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

Transurban-Fluor 495 Express Lanes Grant Awarded to LCNV!

August 28, 2013 at 4:26 PM | Posted in Family Learning, News | Leave a comment
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Students practice reading and writing exercises to improve their English skills in the Family Learning Program classes at Crestwood Elementary School.

Students practice reading and writing exercises to improve their English skills in the Family Learning Program classes at Crestwood Elementary School.

The Transurban-Fluor 495 Express Lanes Grant Program chose to support #LCNV’s Family Learning Program because of its dedication to enriching the lives of members of the community. Read their great profile of LCNV’s work. http://bit.ly/14WjEMk

LCNV Awarded $10,000 Grant from BJ’s Charitable Foundation

August 27, 2013 at 1:38 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia was awarded a $10,000 grant towards its Family Learning Program by the BJ’s Charitable Foundation.

See original Falls Church Patch news story by Jessie Biele.

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The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, a Falls Church based nonprofit, was recently awarded a grant from the BJ’s Charitable Foundation.

The $10,000 grant was awarded at the end of July and will help support the organization’s Family Learning Program. The grant will go towards the purchase of books, supplemental materials, and testing kits and will also help pay the direct service, program-related portion of teachers’ salary, LCNV Communications Manager Michelle Hall-Norvell said.

“We’re thankful that BJ’s selected us for this very prestigious grant, which will help the Family Learning program in particular,” Hall-Norvell told Patch.

Hall-Norvell said the program serves the needs of adults who read below a 5th grade level or whose first language is not English.

“It helps them and helps their families,” Hall-Norvell said. “The program is not just serving the learners of today but future generations to come.”

BJ’s Charitable Foundation, the charitable arm of BJ’s Wholesale Club, awarded a total of eight grants totaling $58,000.00 to nonprofit organizations in Virginia that focus on the health and well being of children and families located in the communities in which BJ’s Wholesale Clubs serve, according to a press release issued by the foundation.

“Not only is BJ’s Wholesale Club extremely proud to serve our members, the company believes it’s equally important to support the communities in which we have clubs,” Executive Director for BJ’s Charitable Foundation Jessica Newman said in a statement.  You can look to BJ’s Charitable Foundation to put a strong emphasis on giving back to local communities that support basic needs.”

Five of the organizations receiving grants are located in Northern Virginia and include ALIVE! Inc., SCAN of Northern Virginia, and Doorways for Women and Families.

BJ’s Wholesale Club is located at 6607 Wilson Blvd. in Falls Church.

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Images from the Crestwood Family Learning Program

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

Hero Central: The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia Breaks Down Language Barriers

August 20, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Posted in Media, Student Stories | Leave a comment

WUSA9 “Hero Central” also featured the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia in a written article.  Read the article here.

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Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
http://www.lcnv.org

LCNV in the Spotlight: WUSA9 Feature in Hero Central

August 19, 2013 at 2:50 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Get Connected: LCNV’s Summer 2013 Newsletter

August 16, 2013 at 3:04 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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Caption: Patricia Donnelly (second from right), LCNV Executive Director, with other nonprofit leaders at the Harvard Business School Executive Education program for nonprofits

LCNV’s Literacy Lines│Summer 2013 Newsletter is online now!

Prefer to receive by email? Sign up here.

Online version

PDF version

In this issue:

Farewell 2012 AmeriCorps Members

August 9, 2013 at 3:27 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
AmeriCorps 2012 members farewell_8Aug2013_4

2012 AmeriCorps Instructors (l to r)
Rachel Conn Martin,Katie Trizna and Xavier Munoz

The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia wants to take a few moments to acknowledge the intelligence, determination, ingenuity, and sheer hard work of the 2012 AmeriCorps members and ESOL instructors. We couldn’t do it without them and their commitment to a year of service teaching Adult ESOL classes. Here is the first of their end of year reflections.  We wish them the best in their future endeavors.

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Thinking back over the year, I have learned so much about The Literacy Council, the students, the community, and even myself.  I have challenged myself in ways that I thought were not possible and I have grown so much.  When first starting at LCNV, I fully admit that I struggled to stay at pace with the heavy workload.  The responsibilities seemed endless: training, paperwork, registrations, data entry, planning, and—oh yeah—teaching.  Some nights, I would feel waves of fear and uncertainty.  Needless to say, the learning curve was sharp, jagged, and quick, and it was certainly a learning process jam-packed with stress.  However, I now understand that this territory comes with any new job, and once one gets through the initial phases, it is time to start appreciating the work.

I want to take this moment to highlight the real mission of the work we do.  Of course, we can be focused on the data and numbers of what LCNV accomplishes, but the real success is within our students and the rich stories behind each of them.  Though it was certainly a challenge to plan and manage multiple classes, the goals that I was able to see being accomplished in the classes were awe-inspiring.  Some highlights of which include:

  • I have students write about their weekends once a week.  Usually, confident and outgoing students share with the class what they had written. Late in the semester, a particularly shy low-level student shared about her weekend with the class. As she was reading her sentences out loud, I sat amazed and touched as surrounding students helped her with some difficult words. When she wrapped up her final few words, I found myself joining everyone in an encouraging and heartfelt applause while she sat beaming in confidence.
  • On one of the last days of the Family Learning Program, we played a review game called ‘Jeopardy’ that reviewed all the topics of the semester and tested the students’ knowledge.  After asking one team of students to point to their knee (reviewing body parts), it was amazing to see some of them sing the “Body Song”, taught to them earlier in the year (“Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes…”) in order to point to the correct body part.
  • At graduation when all of the students from different levels came together and sat with those of different cultures, backgrounds, and languages and would have a conversation in English.  It shows that students are gaining the confidence and English skills to learn more about each other and gain the skills to be more active in our community.

For these and so many other moments, I want to take the opportunity to sincerely thank the Literacy Council for giving me this opportunity. You took a chance and gave me the opportunity to create a learning experience for so many students and to give them the chance to gain important English Skills. I want to thank my students for allowing me to broaden my cultural perspectives and for allowing me to become part of the community that they built inside the classroom.  It has truly made every second of hard work worth it.

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

Inspired by Equals in Social Enterprise

August 8, 2013 at 3:31 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Executive Director Patti Donnelly with small group at Harvard Business School

Recently, Literacy Council of Northern Virginia’s Executive Director Patricia Donnelly was selected for a full scholarship to attend the prestigious Harvard Business School Executive Education, Strategic Perspectives in Non Profit Management week-long program.  Here is her immediate reflection on that experience:

I have just finished sorting through all of my notes and information gathered from my week in the Strategic Perspectives in Non Profit Management Program at Harvard Business School.  What an amazing experience!  I felt so privileged to be representing the Literacy Council of Northern  Virginia among 150 non profit organizations from around the world.  I met extraordinary leaders from India, Australia, China, Great Britain, Canada, and from every corner of the United States all coming with a passion to learn and the desire to make the world a better place.  The Harvard faculty and staff set the tone from the start, with top-tier treatment and respectful appreciation of the social change we are making through our work.  The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, though one of the smaller organizations represented, was among equals in social enterprise.

Though I have countless new ideas and best practices to share – the exchange of knowledge came in all forms through many channels all day – the words validation, empowerment, and inspiration best describe my week.

As a non-profit executive I felt validated as a thoughtful business leader and that the work of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia was equal to that of the largest social enterprise in the world.  I was validated by colleagues from around the world, both with common issues and with helpful solutions.  It was inspiring and transforming to be surrounded by like-minded people, doing work with passion, commitment and exceptional business skills.

I felt empowered.  Everything at Harvard is top-tier.  The faculty and teaching method was extraordinary, and I loved reading the cases.  The Literacy Council is filled with life-longer learners, and I am no different.  Every day I could clearly see another best-practice or change I could bring home to the LCNV staff and board.  As an executive, it is often so hard to think, plan, strategize, bounce ideas off other leaders, share successes and challenges, and learn.  All of that happened during my seven days at Harvard and I loved it.  It was empowering.

Finally, I was inspired.  I was inspired by the community of leaders around me and the work they are all doing around the world.  I was inspired by the academic environment, dedicated and talented faculty, and exceptional approach to education.  And I was inspired to do better for the Literacy Council with this new-found knowledge and colleagueship.  I want to keep in touch with the great friends I made and learned from, follow-up with the practices and skills I gained, and above all, motivate my staff and others to stay engaged in social enterprise.  We are all doing great and necessary work and must keep going and growing to make the world a better place.

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Patricia Donnelly, Executive Director
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
http://www.lcnv.org

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