Literacy Leader

Kristy Nielsen

A great teacher learns from their students. This month’s Literacy Leader, Kristy Nielsen, says she values her students because she is able to learn from them as much as they learn from her. Kristy is an ESL tutor at the Open Door Learning Center in Northeast Minneapolis. She’s been there for over a year and a half. On a typical day, she goes to her class right after work, with a prepared lesson plan, and doesn’t get home until after 9 p.m. She chose to teach beginning level ESL because she loves the liveliness of the large class size.

When searching for November’s Literacy Leader I was automatically steered to Jim Wheeler, a volunteer who received honorable mention from the Minnesota Literacy Council for the Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2013 for his time spent working with students at Metro South’s (formerly known as SHAPE) Bloomington location.

The Literacy Leader for August is Christie Roberts, a creative and passionate computer skills volunteer with Learner Web Computer Classes. Since she started volunteering last September, learners and volunteers have recognized Christie’s kindness, patience and energy in the classroom. JennaRose Bondeson, coordinator of the Learner Web classes, particularly appreciates Christie’s approach when dealing with ideas that are new to students.

Our Literacy Leader for July, Joe Schaedler, has been a volunteer at the International Education Center for over seven years. During evening classes at the IEC, Joe works as a teaching assistant, providing one-on-one tutoring to ESL students and leading small group reading activities. His flexibility and deep interest in education and language make him a great educator, but it is the personal touch that he brings to the classroom that makes Joe a truly exceptional volunteer.

In honor of National Volunteer Week this month, we would like to recognize Mandy Cardinal, a very special literacy volunteer from our Open Door Learning Center - Northeast. Since Mandy Cardinal began volunteering at Northeast in August, she has been admired for her dedication, creativity, and sense of humor as a volunteer ESL teacher.
Our April Literacy Open Door Learning Center - North Side Leader, Cletus Maychrzak, is well-known to every student at the learning center. In the two years since Cletus started volunteering at North Side, he has worked in almost every class. His popularity and the deep impact he has made on his students, however, might be better explained by Cletus' passion for teaching and his enthusiasm in the classroom. When a student who attended Cletus' Science GED class over a year ago was asked, "When you think of science, what do you think of?" She responded, "I think of Cletus' laugh."
Every week for four days a week, Chris Montgomery arrives at the Open Door Learning Center - Rondo an hour early to work one-on-one with students before class begins. Then he assists in the set-up of his classroom and proceeds to spend the rest of the day co-teaching GED, monitoring practice tests, tutoring small groups, and mentoring students. A leader to all in his indefatigable energy and drive to support both his students and learning center, Chris has earned the distinction of being our March Literacy Leader.
We would like to congratulate Mary Gilbertson of Open Door Learning Center - Arlington Hills as our February Literacy Leader! Mary started volunteering as a teacher at Arlington Hills in October of 2012. However, she first began her work with ESL students early on in her career as a teacher in the ESL program at Highland Junior and Senior High in St. Paul. Mary appreciated these students' tenacity in the classroom and their eagerness to learn. "Looking back at that time," she says, "I believe I learned more from them than they learned from me." Inspired by her students at Highland, Mary decided to continue her work with ESL by becoming a Minnesota Literacy Council volunteer.
For over a year, Kathy O’Connor has worked as classroom assistant in Mary Pat Davini’s Computer Basics class at Goodwill Easter Seals. According to Mary Pat, however, Kathy is more than just a dedicated volunteer: “I can't stress enough how important this volunteer is to our Computer class at Goodwill!” Mary Pat says of her assistant. “If it weren't for Kathy O'Connor, simply said, it would not be possible for hundreds of adults to be successful in literacy and computer skills.” For going above and beyond in in supporting learners and staff alike at Goodwill East Seals, we would like to honor Kathy O’Conner as December’s Literacy Leader!
Three years ago, Corrine Mady stopped by the Adult Academic Program of Robbinsdale Area Schools and looked in on a classroom of ESL students. As she stood in the door and observed the students, Corrine knew instantly that this was where she wanted to volunteer. After countless hours of volunteering since that fateful day, Corrine has earned both the Literacy Council’s 2012 Outstanding Volunteer- Honorable Mention award and the honor of being November’s Literacy Leader.



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