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Archive for August, 2014

This August we will be saying “goodbye” to AmeriCorps members Carrie and Stephen. For the 2013-2014 service  year, Carrie and Stephen dedicated their time working directly with adult ESOL and ABE learners in Loudoun County teaching classes and tutoring one-on-one. To learn more about their experiences as AmeriCorps members at Loudoun Literacy, read below:

Carrie’s Reflections

AmeriCorps Member - Carrie 2013-2014It’s difficult to begin this post, as I’m thinking about all of the experiences that I have gained while serving as a two-time AmeriCorps member and as one of the Adult Literacy Coordinators at Loudoun Literacy. The title of this position does not accurately reflect how much I have learned and how much I have developed both personally and professionally. When I began my term in September of 2012, I did not have any teaching experience or experience working with adult English language learners. I fell into this position and grew into loving it. I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of learners with varying levels of English speaking abilities. I have learned a new, broader definition of hard work, determination, and self-assurance. Committing to two to four hours of English instruction when their schedules are already overwhelmed with the pressures of daily life is admiral. All students come from various countries and speak various languages, but they all have similar goals of attaining a certain level of English to reach a goal – whether it is to be able to understand the work their children bring home or gaining employment or a promotion or even simply having a social conversation with native English speakers. As I continue on my journey, I will always remember these students and try to momentarily step into their shoes to keep my humility intact.

Working with our adult student population was just one facet of my service. The experience of working with our Adult Literacy volunteers was one that I will take with me and one that I have learned so much from. From training to classroom and tutor observances, I have had the pleasure of getting to know and learn from our volunteers who dedicate countless hours to working with our students. I am so glad that the hard work of our volunteers was recognized by the Volunteer Loudoun this past June, as our volunteers were awarded the “2014 Outstanding Adult Volunteer Team” award!

I want to thank a few volunteers in particular who I have worked closely with throughout my two years at Loudoun Literacy. They have helped me in the classroom and have been by my side instructing our learners. All of the volunteers mentioned below have been my classroom aides and all of them have moved on to become lead teachers in one of LLC’s classrooms! THANK YOU Erin, Kathleen, Robbie, Shabnam, Song, Susan, and Tina!

Lastly, I want to thank the Loudoun Literacy and Literacy Council of Northern Virginia staff for allowing me the opportunity to take advantage of this experience. All of my supervisors have created an environment in which I was able to invest my creativity and new knowledge of adult literacy to help develop and re-structure the program so we can continue to expand our services to even more learners in the Loudoun County community. I would also like to give a “shout-out” to my AmeriCorps team member Stephen. Throughout the year we were able to learn from each other’s strengths to create a well-rounded adult literacy program.

I will forever be grateful for this experience as an AmeriCorps member and as part of the LLC team. If you wish to stay in touch, please connect with me via LinkedIn!

Stephen’s Reflections

Almost a year later, I can still remember the feeling of just getting started here at Loudoun Literacy. At first, I was overwhelmed to see the size of the student population here in Loudoun and the number of volunteers and classes under our supervision. I would like to thank Claudia and Carrie for making that time of transition into this position as smooth as possible, and all of our volunteers for being flexible, friendly, patient, and effective instructors.AmeriCorps Member - Stephen 2013-2014

Leading beginner-level ESOL classes in Cascades was an eye-opening new experience for me. Over the course of the year, I got to work with learners from 11 different countries. It was amazing to see them come together using English as their common language! I learned a lot about working with differing levels in the same classroom and adjusting my approach based on what was effective for the group on any particular lesson. Thanks to Shabnam and Jose for helping me out by working with individual students who needed to focus their attention on specific parts of the lessons!

Some of my strongest memories of the year will come from the changing nature of our GED program. In the fall, I was introduced to the old format of the test and faced with my first full classroom of GED candidates, representing a wide array of educational backgrounds and ability levels. I would especially like to thank Veronica for helping me through that first class experience. When the test changed, so did the array of learners preparing for it. It was interesting to hear all the different stories of the GED seekers and to work with them toward their goals, and I wish them all continued success in their future pursuits!

When the format of the test changed, so did the nature of the class. I was given the freedom to reshape LLC’s curriculum to align with the new content standards, allowing for a greater emphasis on algebraic reasoning and a greater emphasis on depth of knowledge. The student demographics also changed, as the GED credential started to be viewed more as a long-term goal dependent upon a series of four tests rather than a single test containing multiple subjects. I worked with the learners on building critical thinking skills and test-taking strategies, skills that will hopefully carry them through their ongoing efforts to pass the GED and assist them in their daily lives in the future.

With so many things going on for every class term, it felt like the year flew by much too quickly! Over the course of the year, I have found a new appreciation for the necessity of education in our society. I hope to move forward with a career in education to enable more students to attain personal fulfillment and professional success.  I wish our students and volunteers continued success as they move forward in the coming year!

 

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