UNION COUNTY — Literacy Volunteers of Union County (LV-UC) and its partner Literacy Volunteers of Plainfield Public Library were big winners at this year’s NJ Literacy for Life Conference. LV-UC was named NJ Affiliate of the Year for its work with Basic Literacy students.
Under the guidance of Dawn Harrison (Basic Skills Field Services Coordinator), LV-UC tutors started meeting with small groups of Basic Literacy students. This model has traditionally been used with ESL students and Harrison believed that, while a group setting might at first be daunting for Basic Literacy students, the benefits would quickly become apparent as students begin to learn from their peers and realize that they are not unique in their struggle with literacy.
In 2008, Harrison also launched GED preparatory classes (and taught part of the program). Fifteen Literacy Volunteers students enrolled in the GED program and two have completed the course and are now the proud holders of high school equivalency diplomas. Since 2005, LV-UC’s Basic Literacy program has doubled in size, a remarkable feat in a time when most affiliates’ programs are shrinking.
Next on the (virtual) dais was the winner of the NJ Award for Student Excellence (ESL), Paula Mejia. Mejia came to the United States from Colombia in 1996 but did not begin working in earnest on her English language skills until she came to LV-UC in 2008. Since she began her work as a student, Paula has moved two levels on the BEST test, used her English to run support groups and advocate for parents of children with special needs and become a student representative on LV-UC’s Board of Directors. Mejia was unable to attend the conference in person but, in her indomitable style, gave her acceptance speech to the luncheon via Skype.
Stella Segura (LV-Plainfield Public Library) was given the NJ Award for Tutor Excellence for her progression from ESL student to ESL tutor extraordinaire. Segura is one of the co-founders of the Los Amigos Club, a group of students who want extra practice on their English skills, and many of her students came to the Literacy for Life Conference to celebrate her award
Paul Gessner, Bettina Hoey and Dawn Harrison are pictured at the Literacy For Life Conference.
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