Kat , left, flanked by LCNV Executive Director Patricia Donnelly.
LCNV-AmeriCorps Instructor Kat Contreras received Blackboard's prestigious Teacher Appreciation Month recognition in May. “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.
Blackboard held a Teacher Appreciation Month Campaign that recognizes teachers for their important work. People were asked to submit a short essay nominating a teacher who inspired them. Subsequently, these essays were 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.
"This truly is exciting for Kat and for the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia,” says LCNV Executive Director Patricia 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.”
A thought-provoking essay from Kat’s student, Yi Zhang, received the most votes. In her essay, Zhang wrote, "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."
LCNV bid farewell to Kat on August 5, 2016, the last day of the AmeriCorps service year with LCNV. "LCNV is so proud of our AmeriCorps program, which brings Members who dedicate a year of service to LCNV and our sister organizations in the region. As teachers, our Members not only gain invaluable experience that shapes their own futures, but they change the lives of their learners. Our Members build a community in their classrooms that inspires friendship and confidence across the many languages and cultures that make up our adult learners," says Ruba Afzal, Associate Director of Community Engagement.
We wish Kat, and all of our Members, the very best in their future endeavors.