LCNV extends our warmest congratulations to our outstanding teacher Vaishali Deshpande for being awarded the Virginia Association for Adult and Continuing Education (VAACE) Volunteer of the Year, on October 22 during the 2019 VAACE Conference.
Since the fall of 2017, Vaishali has been a part of LCNV’s Destination Workforce® program, teaching Intensive English and Workforce Readiness classes to adult English language learners – most of whom receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and are women from Afghanistan. Her classes integrate English for work and community life with training for an industry-recognized credential. To help equip students with 21st century skills, Vaishali also incorporates digital literacy in her classes, enabling learners to create online accounts, understand internet security, find information via search engines, and write resumes in Microsoft Word. Additionally, she uses online resources to monitor and tailor students’ skill-building processes, which include connecting them with Cell-Ed, a state-approved distance education provider. To help students build work readiness skills, she arranges hands-on volunteer office experiences comprised of administrative responsibilities, such as answering phones, transcribing messages, and filing. As a part of our faculty responsible for teaching content for an industry-recognized credential in customer service as applicable to the hotel industry, Vaishali leverages her own professional experience into her teaching – exemplifying how a business background can inform a teaching career.
“I believe in the power and capability of a literate, empowered woman. Breaking the cycle of illiteracy and poverty, I believe, is the key to solving the ‘big issues’ the world struggles with every day. In this country when a person is able to communicate in English, they can create better opportunities for themselves and their children and break that generational cycle,” says Vaishali when we asked her why she chose to volunteer.
Her belief in the empowering potential of literacy has brought dozens of supporters to visit her classes, either to witness our Destination Workforce® program, or to pick up new teaching strategies. To date, Vaishali has volunteered 468 hours with LCNV, planning and teaching English classes. Amidst frequently changing priorities and student needs, she always delivers effective, learner-centered language education. Most importantly, she approaches every interaction with sensitivity and respect, endearing herself to students, staff, teachers, and volunteers. “I have gained an immense amount from teaching as well,” says Vaishali, “I am constantly in awe of the determination and perseverance my students show; thinking of the obstacles they have had to overcome just to show up gives me perspective on my own life, and they inspire me every day.”