Photo: LCNV Executive Director Patti Donnelly, right, with Kat, left.
LCNV AmeriCorps Instructor Kathryn (Kat) Contreras is one among three teachers to win Blackboard's prestigious Teacher Appreciation Month recognition. Kat joined the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV) as an AmeriCorps member in September 2015. She teaches English to adult immigrants and refugees, helping them to read, write, speak, and understand the language. “This truly is exciting for Kat and for the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia,” says LCNV Executive Director Patti Donnelly. "Kat has just recently found her passion teaching adults who need English language skills. She has made such a difference in the lives of our adult learners, who, with limited English literacy skills, jumped at the chance to write a nomination for her as Teacher of the Year. We are all so proud of Kat for receiving this national recognition, and for her exceptional talent as an adult ESOL teacher.”
Blackboard launched a Teacher Appreciation Month campaign to recognize and appreciate teachers who inspire. People were asked to submit a short essay nominating a teacher who inspires them. These essays were then open to a public vote. Over 80,000 votes selected the top 10 finalists. A panel of expert educators then selected three winners from the top 10, based on the teacher’s impact on the nominator.
“I am ecstatic to be recognized by Blackboard for Teacher Appreciation," says Kat. "As an ESOL teacher for a small nonprofit that serves the most vulnerable populations in the Northern Virginia area, I am so thrilled this grant will go toward enhancing our classrooms. For me, it was beyond humbling to see my students’ essays, and it is a motivation to continue making my classes a peaceful place for adult students looking to continue their education in a foreign country,” Kat adds.
Three LCNV adult learners nominated Kat, but an inspiring essay from her student Yi Zhang received the most votes. Zhang was born in China. He was nervous to speak English and used his wife's help to speak the language. "English grammar is totally different from Chinese grammar, so it is very difficult for me. But Ms. Kat's explanations were very clear. Ms. Kat came up with games we could play together in class, and through these games, we got to know each other and made new friends when we moved to the U.S," Zhang wrote in his essay.
Kat's AmeriCorps year with LCNV will end in August. The LCNV team is so proud of Kat’s contributions, and wishes her the best in all her future endeavors. Congratulations, Kat!