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Archive for February, 2013

(L-R) Susan, Leslie, Dr. Dann-Messier, Claudia, and Carrie at 2013 VLLC Conference

(L-R) Susan, Leslie, Dr. Dann-Messier, Claudia, and Carrie at 2013 VLLC Conference

Last Thursday and Friday, Leslie, Claudia, Carrie, and I traveled south to Richmond, Virginia for the 2013 Virginia Literacy Leadership Council (VLLC) Conference.   We had the opportunity to meet with teachers, program managers and administrators of other community-based adult literacy organizations throughout the state of Virginia.

We started the conference listening to the opening speaker, Susan Fletcher, who worked as a Deputy Superintendent of the Central Virginia Regional Jail.  She talked to us about how critical the GED is for our adults including inmates trying for a second chance.  After the opening speaker, the four of us attended different sessions in the afternoon.  They included: Minimizing Administrative Chaos, Having an Effective Tutor Training, Grant Writing the SMART Way, Transitions-Soft Skills for Employability, and EL Civics Lesson Plans for the Beginning Level ESOL Learner.  These sessions were helpful in us preparing for our upcoming volunteer training, simplifying our databases, improving our skills in writing grants, and working better with ESOL learners.   It was a solid first day of information.

On our second day of the conference, we went our separate ways and attended the following sessions: Working through the Interview, Learning Disabilities and English Language Learners, and Executive Director Bootcamp. These sessions helped us learn more ways to effectively work with our adult learners, our ESOL students, and to improve our non-profit overall.

Following the morning session, we listened to the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier.  In 2009, Dr. Dann-Messier was nominated by President Obama to be the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE).  She leads the Department’s efforts in adult education, career and technical education, and provides support for community colleges and correctional education.  Dr. Dann-Messier spoke to us about literacy facts in Virginia and also about President Obama’s goals to improve adult literacy.  She also talked about the importance of collaboration between community-based organizations, adult basic education, and community college programs.

The VLLC Conference was a great opportunity for Leslie, Claudia, Carrie, and I to make new connections, to learn about other organizations in Virginia, and to generate new ideas to bring back to Loudoun Literacy, as we are always striving to improve and grow our programs.  We look forward to the next opportunity for professional development focusing on adult literacy and ESOL.

Susan Pilley

AmeriCorps Member  2012-2013

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Over the past couple of weeks, the Adult Literacy Program Staff has been blown away by 130 ESOL students registering and taking part in our ESOL class instruction! The week of January 14th, the ALP staff registered students at five different site locations in Loudoun County with the help of 12 of our wonderful volunteers. We’d like to send a huge “thank you” to our community partners: Douglass Community Center, Sterling Community Center, Ashburn Library, Guilford Elementary School, and Frederick Douglass Elementary School for allowing us to utilize their space and resources.

We are so excited that our ESOL student population has increased and we, as a program, have the ability and the resources to cater to the overwhelming need for English classes. Our students come into the classroom with differing academic backgrounds; we have students with advanced degrees, university degrees, high school diplomas, and students with little to no education. Our youngest student is 19 and are eldest student is 76 years of age. Our
students come from 27 different countries and represent a multitude of nationalities and cultural backgrounds! Sixty-four percent of our students are taking our Beginning Level ESOL courses, with an equal percentage of students taking our Intermediate and Advanced Level ESOL courses. With such diversity in culture, as well as English proficiency, we are fortunate to have volunteers who are able to teach students with varying academic abilities and cultural nuances.

Additionally, for the Winter 2013 term we were able to expand our classroom instruction, establishing another class at Rust Library as well as a new class at Frederick Douglass Elementary School. Currently, the Loudoun Literacy Council offers 12 adult ESOL classes in eight site locations including Douglass Community Center, Rust Library, Ashburn Library, Cascades Library, Galilee United Methodist Church, Sterling United Methodist Church, Guilford Elementary School, and Frederick Douglass Elementary School. The passion that we hold for providing English classes to our students is evident with our community partners as well. Their dedication fuels our dedication to keep improving and making positive changes towards the ELL community as well as the community at large in Loudoun County.

The determination of our students to learn and understand the complexities of the English language is very inspiring. As registration came to a close, and classes began this past week, we were again reminded of the challenges the students face on a day-to-day basis. It is part of our responsibility, as ESOL instructors, to help our students take a firmer grasp on the English language as well as take a second look and do something constructive when we witness the injustices non-native English speakers face in this society.

If you would like to be a part of “changing lives through learning”, please contact the Loudoun Literacy Council at (703)777-2205 or e-mail us at tutor@loudounliteracy.org.

 

Carrie Robinson, AmeriCorps Instructor 2012-2013

Loudoun Literacy Council

17 Royal St., SW Leesburg, VA 20175

http://www.loudounliteracy.org

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