Archive for the ‘Staff’ Category

Stephen Ours 2013-2014

This month we are fortunate to introduce a new AmeriCorps member, Stephen Ours, to the LLC team for the 2013-2014 service year! Stephen will be working with the Adult Literacy Program, teaching both ESOL and GED classes. Carrie and Claudia are so excited to have him on board as we begin a new year!


Stephen Ours joined Loudoun Literacy council as an AmeriCorps member for the 2013-2014 year in September.  He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from George Mason University.  He has recent experience working with middle and high school students in mathematics and reading at Huntington Learning Center.  Stephen is looking forward to the opportunity to work with a different segment of the Loudoun population and hopes to help enable members of the community to effectively share information and ideas.



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(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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Since 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national day of service.   As part of our year of serving in AmeriCorps, Carrie and I just participated in the national day of service this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

While others enjoyed the day off or watched the inauguration, we met at 9:00 AM at the Shoppers Grocery Store in Herndon, Virginia to volunteer with Fairfax County’s Stuff the Bus: Feeding Fairfax Families for Reston Interfaith.  Reston Interfaith’s mission is to help people build more stable lives by connecting them to vital resources that solve their needs for housing, childcare, food or financial assistance.   After the holidays, many food pantries in Fairfax County drop to their lowest points.  Throughout Fairfax County in January and February, there are food drives to collect food for area non-profits and food pantries, and Fastran provides the buses to collect donations.   To restock Reston Interfaith’s emergency food pantry, Reston Interfaith and Fastran hold a yearly Stuff the Bus event at the Shopper’s Grocery Store in Herndon to collect donations. Here is more information about Fairfax County’s Stuff the Bus: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/2013/stuff-the-bus-2013.htm

From 9:00 AM-4:00 PM on Monday, Carrie and I along with two AmeriCorps members from BEACON Literacy handed out fliers about the Food Drive to shoppers as they entered the grocery store.  The fliers had a list of items that shoppers could buy and then donate to Reston Interfaith as they left the store.  There were also $5 bags already filled with needed items that shoppers could purchase at the checkout lines, or they could give monetary donations.  We spent the day handing out fliers and helping to collect donations that were loaded on the bus.

Though our feet were tired after seven hours of standing, we truly enjoyed our experience.  First, we were quite surprised by the unexpected generosity of people for buying items while doing their personal shopping, buying the $5 bags if they were in a rush, or giving money on their way out.  There was one couple that even bought a cart full of items to donate!   Also, we met people who use Reston Interfaith’s Emergency Food Pantry, met people who wanted information on services of Reston Interfaith for their own families, and met people who could barely afford to take care of their own families.  One lesson we took away from this experience is to always take time to listen to others giving out information, as sometimes, it is to help people in need.  At the end of the day, Carrie and I both bought a bag to help support Reston Interfaith’s food drive.

Overall, our day of service was a reminder of how generous people can be, and a reminder of being humble and appreciating what we have.

Susan Pilley

AmeriCorps Member 12-13

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During the first two Saturdays of the New Year, the Adult Literacy Program staff was hard at work training 17 volunteers for the upcoming Winter 2013 session! The Leesburg Town Hall Building was gracious enough to allow the ALP staff to use their space for the training event.  It was the first time that both AmeriCorps members were able to teach their potential volunteers the ins-and-outs of classroom instruction and the challenges and rewards of teaching adult ESOL learners. While Susan focused primarily on cultural diversity and the structure of a lesson and Carrie focused on realia and curriculum and text, they were able to co-teach the importance of chart levels, lesson planning, and adult learning and learning styles.

One of the highlights of the two-day training session occurred when the volunteers were able to create a lesson plan in groups of three or four.  They were able to take what they had learned and use it to brainstorm a lesson that could be utilized in an ESOL classroom. Each group was given a lesson in one of the units in the All-Star curriculum text. The goal was to have the volunteers understand how lessons are purposefully built up from a more general lesson to a more complex lesson.  This was also a great time for volunteers to use realia, dialogue, and incorporate games within their lessons. It was great to hear each group present their lesson plans and share their great ideas!

It was awesome to see so many potential volunteers come out to learn more about Loudoun Literacy Council and the services we provide and to learn more about the adult ESOL community in Loudoun County.  The Adult Literacy Program staff is thrilled to announce that the majority of our potential volunteers have signed up to assist in the classroom, become a tutor, and/or help out at our registration events!

The ALP staff would like to congratulate the following individuals for successfully completing the Winter 2013 Teacher/Tutor Training:


















Written By:

Carrie Robinson

AmeriCorps Member 2012-2013

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Book Bundles - December 2012 NewsletterOur Family Literacy program has been partnering with MotherNet since 2008 to provide Baby Book Bundles to new and expectant at-risk mothers living in Loudoun. More specifically,  the program gives baby book bundles to new moms of babies from infancy to 2 years. These bundles contain bilingual literacy information about the importance of establishing an early reading routine from infancy. Along with the tips, we include two baby books (in Spanish, where appropriate) and a small baby item. The first week in December, we delivered our first Baby Book Bundles of the new school year. These bundles will go to 22 Spanish speaking families and 15 English speaking low-income families that are served by MotherNet.

Tanya Bosse

Family Literacy Program Director


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Thanks to everyone who came out for Candace’s farewell party June 24th! We had a lovely time with our community partners and friends celebrating not just Candace’s retirement, but all the hard work she’s done here at LLC. Take a look at a few pictures of our little fiesta:

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Although spring is more commonly known as the season of new beginnings, this summer is turning out to be a time of change for us here at Loudoun Literacy Council.

At the end of June, Candace Kroehl is retiring as our Executive Director and Tanya Bittenbender, the Director of Development & Community Relations, is transitioning to take over her role. Candace has worked hard over the past three years overseeing both the Family Literacy and Adult Literacy programs, writing grants, and strengthening community partnerships all around Loudoun County. And according to an employee in the office who shall not be named, she is by far the best executive director LLC has had.

But luckily we have Tanya to take her place. Now this is just my opinion, but…I think Tanya is related to the Incredibles. Except instead of saving the world from scorned villains, she channels her multitasking energy towards changing lives through literacy. Whether it’s starting new ESL classes or organizing our annual corporate spelling bee, she continues to find ways to make the organization stronger. My words of encouragement for you, Tanya: Rock on!

Also, later this August, Harman Sidhu and I will pass the figurative literacy torch on as we finish our AmeriCorps contract and welcome the new members to the LLC team. For me, working at Loudoun Literacy Council has been a wonderful experience in that I’ve met so many interesting and extremely grateful students, worked with steadfast volunteers who give so much of their time to help our cause, and been part of a supportive and just plain fun group of coworkers. I will definitely miss the camaraderie we’ve developed. And, not to speak for Harman, but I’m totally gonna speak for her when I say she would agree.

So this summer will be full of goodbyes and hellos, but as we say in the office: you can leave LLC, but it’ll pull you right back in. I know Candace, Harman and I will be helping out in the future for Loudoun Literacy Council in some way.

And in case you haven’t noticed, another new thing to pop up here is this blog. We want to be better in touch with you all — volunteers, donors, passersby on the worldwide interweb… Welcome! Use this online space as a platform to ask questions, get resources or just get connected to people like you who are committed to making people’s lives easier and better through education.

Talk to you soon!

– Sabrina Berntsen

Americorps Member

Loudoun Literacy Council

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