LCNV Volunteer Shares How Her Membership with RSVP-NoVA Benefits LCNV Too

October 28, 2014 at 2:30 PM | Posted in Volunteers | Leave a comment


I encourage LCNV Volunteers who are 55 or older to consider becoming part of RSVP-Northern Virginia. As background, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is one of three under the Senior Corps, which along with AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America fall under the purview of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

RSVP connects volunteers with programs in the community. I don’t remember where I first heard of it, however, I found opportunities in Austin, Dallas, and now in Northern VA through RSVP. The staffs in all three locations have been wonderfully helpful.

One of the benefits of joining is the additional insurance coverage as well as mileage reimbursement of up to $20 per month, depending on the area/city. RSVP-Northern VA offers both benefits. In Austin, several of us followed the example set by a long-time RSVP tutor. We donated our gas money to the literacy center. We either turned the money over directly, purchased reference books for our class and then donated them to the library, or bought books listed on the center’s wish list. I intend to do the same here. To make that donation go even farther, volunteers can purchase books from LCNV’s AmazonSmiles wish list and the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate a share of the purchase to the charity of their choice, e.g. Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.

Information on RSVP can be found at or by contacting Courtney Kurzweil at 703-403-5360or

Kris Levenhagen, Volunteer ESOL Tutor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042

Editor’s Note:  This is the last week for LCNV’s participation in ACT for Alexandria’s Fall Into Giving online donation campaign.  Purchase books and office supplies from LCNV’s wish list to help out LCNV’s classroom and tutoring programs, with the added benefit of AmazonSmile Foundation donating a share of all eligible purchases.  The campaign ends this week on Friday, October 31, but LCNV’s wish list will stay up and the AmazonSmile Foundation donations run year-round.  Find out more about Fall Into Giving here or go directly to LCNV’s Amazon Wish List and start shopping at


Volunteer Teacher Spotlight: Tom Smith

October 21, 2014 at 9:30 AM | Posted in Volunteers | 1 Comment
Tom Smith, long-time Volunteer Teacher at Crestwood Evening Program

Tom Smith, long-time Volunteer Teacher at Crestwood Evening Program

Staff at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia serves our learners mostly from behind the scenes. In the classroom, we rely on our volunteer instructors to work with them from registration to graduation. Many of our volunteers continue serving at the same class site for many years. One such volunteer was Tom Smith. He put in more than a decade and 1200 hours of service teaching students at our Crestwood evening class.

He retired from his volunteering with us in May 2013. Before he concluded his teaching duties, I asked him to share some thoughts about his experience with LCNV.


Xavier: Why did you decide to volunteer with LCNV?

Tom: I had been teaching with Fairfax County Adult Education, but I liked the fact that the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia charged less and offered more flexibility in terms of class location and focus.

X: Why did you continue to volunteer with LCNV for over 10 years?

T: Teaching ESL is very rewarding. Seeing how much effort students put into learning English and how pleased and proud they are when they make advances kept me coming back. Sometimes I was less than enthused about preparing a lesson, but once I was in the classroom the students always re-energized me.

X: How did you share your experiences and skills outside the classroom, like your work at Mount Vernon, with learners in the classroom?

T: I usually offered a lesson on U.S. history, whether the syllabus called for it or not. I rationalized my teaching some basic history by telling the students that they’ll probably hear people talking about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, the Civil War, etc. And they won’t be left out of the conversation if they’re familiar with those people and events.

X: What are some thoughts you would like to share with new or prospective LCNV volunteers?

When I started, I hadn’t had any training as a teacher, but I figured my efforts would do no harm. So I never felt apprehensive about being with the students. I think they could tell I was enjoying myself and that helped put them at ease so they could enjoy the experience, too.

X: What are some thoughts you would like to share with LCNV?

T: LCNV establishes a welcoming and supportive atmosphere for both teachers and students. The Council’s work has earned a good reputation, so I’m proud to tell people I worked with LCNV.


But, as we say, no one ever really leaves LCNV. They just work with us from different places and in different ways. Such has been the case with Tom. He has returned to the Crestwood site as a substitute teacher several times since then.

Tom, thank you for your years of service. We look forward to calling on you to sub again very soon!

Xavier Munoz, AmeriCorps Classroom Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042

LCNV Offices and Closed and Classes are Canceled on Monday, Oct. 13 for the Holiday

October 9, 2014 at 4:06 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Final AmeriCorps 2014 Reflection: “LCNV is so lucky to have the greatest volunteers in the world …”

October 3, 2014 at 3:56 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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As the summer semester ended, a sigh of relief escaped my mouth and a sense of freedom ensued as I watched the last student leave my classroom. Then it hit me; while many of my students would return the next semester to continue their studies, I wouldn’t be there to guide them to their respective classrooms on the first day of class. We wouldn’t chat about what they did during their break. I wouldn’t get to see the progress they made throughout the semester. This was the end of my journey as an AmeriCorps Member/ ESOL Instructor with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.

However, thinking back on it, I can’t completely be sad that my time has come to an end. Throughout this service year I have met many incredibly resilient students from all kinds of backgrounds that have lived truly unimaginable lives. From those undocumented living in fear of deportation, to those seeking asylum from politically war-torn countries, to the many who have transcended cultural and religious barriers in order to become “more American,” these are the students with whom I am honored to  have met. I’m going to miss their smiles, their laughter, and the fun and fearless energy they brought to class. I’m especially going to miss those who continued the whole year with me such as my Congolese student –to whom I asked in French one day, “si vous poulet venir…“ without realizing I said, “If you chicken come…”

As I look back on my AmeriCorps service year, another reason to smile is because of the volunteers with whom I worked. LCNV is so lucky to have the greatest volunteers in the world offering their time whether it be by teaching and/or tutoring our students. I want to thank all of the volunteers I immediately managed with special thanks to Linda Drumheller, Margaret Breen and Laura Schell. Students absolutely love Linda –which is evident because they don’t want to leave her class. As a retired ESOL teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools she was my listening ear and my mentor. Throughout the semester she advised me on many things whether it was how to handle difficult students or how to make my class more engaging. She also allowed me to steal many of her remarkable teaching techniques, something for which I’m truly grateful. My tag-team duo comprised of a retired FCPS Reading Specialist, Margaret, and a relatively newcomer to the field of education but an LCNV vet, Laura, who made managing one of the biggest classroom sites at LCNV possible and extremely fun. Both are tremendously effective and wonderful teachers. They, just like Linda, listened to me during times of frustration and offered teaching ideas whenever needed. Thursday evenings though are definitely not going to be the same

Last but not least, one thing I’ll look back on and be glad that happened will be the fact that I worked with pretty awesome people. I couldn’t have been luckier to work with the three most amazing AmeriCorps members Shani, Xavier and Renato and the honorary fifth member Ashley King, Student Advisor. I’ll miss randomly bursting out in song and serenading you all in the middle of some fruitful conversations at the AmeriCorner (nickname for the AmeriCorps corner of the office). To Shani, Ashley, and Xavier, have fun next year and whip the new members into shape! To everyone else at LCNV, thanks for all you’ve done. You’ve made my time as an AmeriCorps member truly positive.

Tristen Mimiaga, AmeriCorps ESOL Classroom Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042


More Racers Needed to Put LCNV in the Winners’ Circle During Acumen Solutions’ Race for a Cause on Sunday, Oct. 19

October 2, 2014 at 3:16 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Calling all LCNV volunteers and friends!  LCNV needs you to register for Race for a Cause today and select LCNV as your charity of choice.  Sign up online at and help us win this friendly competition.  Even if you are not able to participate on race day, sign up and be counted, as all registrations count toward LCNV’s total race numbers.  If we can sign up even more racers (400 is our goal) that would help LCNV place in the top 4 and be eligible to earn bigger prize money from the race sponsors.   Contact us today at  to sponsor multiple runner registrations.  Online registration closes on Oct. 16 at 9:00 p.m. so please register now. (After Oct. 16, you can only register in-person during race packet pickup on Sat., Oct. 18, or the day of the race on Oct. 19.)  With three more weeks to go, we still have time!

Hear this short Acumen Solutions’ Race for a Cause 2014 interview with long-time LCNV volunteer and ESOL tutor, Alexandra Roncale and her student, Shahnaz Parvin.  LCNV appreciates the support of Acumen Solutions and its race sponsors, as well as the contribution of Alexandra and Shahnaz to explain why LCNV matters.  It takes a village!

L to R: Shahnaz Parvin (ESOL tutoring student) and Alexandra Roncale (volunteer ESOL tutor)

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