Volunteer Voice

My name is Kehinde Winful, and I am a Community Outreach Intern with the Minnesota Literacy Council this summer.

Last week I went to an outreach event at a local elementary school to share information about free classes for adults. After the event I began thinking of ways in which we can better reach and share information about classes with adults who do not speak English. This blog is a reflection of that thought process. It ends by sharing how volunteers can help us reach prospective, non-English speaking students.

Dr. William Snyder is an English professor at Concordia College who has contributed his teaching skills and expertise to adult literacy students by volunteering in the Moorhead Adult Basic Education program for the past 10 years. He volunteers Thursday mornings in an ESL classroom, where he and his students sit around a conference table and discuss a pre-selected news article. William does this so his students are more comfortable with colloquial and newer vocabulary, and so they are up–to-date on current events.

Kris Trelles has been volunteering at Centro Guadalupano in Minneapolis since she retired from her job teaching ESL in Minneapolis Public Schools. She started at Centro four years ago to fulfill the requirements of an Adult Basic Education teaching licensure program and has been volunteering there ever since. She decided to continue volunteering at Centro, rather than to take a paid position in a larger classroom, she says, because she likes the smaller classes and the informal and friendly structure.

“I enjoy life.” That’s the philosophy of this month’s Literacy Leader, Grant Stabenow.

 

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.

At Goodwill’s FATHER (Fostering Actions To Help Earnings and Responsibility) Project, Wednesday morning math lessons are filled with fun thanks to this month’s Literacy Leader, Anoop Mathur. What’s his secret to getting learners to enjoy math as much as he does? Anoop says it’s helping students understand how math affects their lives. “Many students are afraid of math. So I try not to just teach the fundamentals without any context, but make mathematics fun and necessary,” shares Anoop, who adds that he tries to get students to, “see the value of math in their everyday life.”

This month’s Literacy Leader, Pat Teskey, believes that helping newcomers is part of her civic duty as a Minnesotan. “I think it is the responsibility of our community to help immigrants and refugees feel welcomed,” she says. For five years, Pat has been volunteering in adult ESL classrooms at SouthWest Metro Intermediate District ABE program in Shakopee. She had previously worked with K-12 ESL students within public schools and wanted to work with adults after she retired.

This month’s Literacy Leader is Andrew Lauwagie, a volunteer at Cedar Riverside Adult Education Collaborative (CRAEC). Since May 2016, Andrew has been volunteering each Tuesday morning in a Level 1 ESL class. He gained an interest in teaching English while he was working in a family practice clinic in Minneapolis.

At Franklin Learning Center in Minneapolis, Thursday afternoons are brightened by the enthusiasm of Mary Drew. Her genuine interest in the students she’s tutored over the past year and a half instills confidence in them. Mary is a retired IT consultant who heard about adult literacy work through the Hennepin County Library. Having experience travelling abroad and a love for new knowledge of cultures, it was Franklin Learning Center (FLC) that was the right fit for her.

Summer Snapshot #2, 7 Years on Lake Street, is the second in a three-part series written by Minnesota Literacy Council volunteer Henry Hietala.

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