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

1 Comment

  1. It was great to be reminded of years spent sharing a class with Tom on alternating class days. Because we each had different interests we interjected into our classes I think it made for a good variety for the students. Every teaching partner enriches the student’s experience and I am happy to have partners–and the flexibility they bring to a volunteer teacher’s schedule.


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