Literacy Lines: Fall 2021

When COVID-19 hit and we pivoted to all virtual platforms, one of our students said to their instructor, “You light our path of darkness.” Amid so much uncertainty and unanticipated change, this expression fueled our collective commitment to continue delivering the best programming we could in service to our dedicated and ambitious learners. On September 1st, LCNV proudly gathered for our 59th Annual Recognition Ceremony to celebrate our learners from the past year who have inspired us with their focus and determination. We heard student essays on the theme for the year, “Learning Lights My Path Forward” and as always, we were honored to have the chance to recognize our incredible instructors and thank our dedicated volunteers, donors, and board members at this year’s first in-person gathering at the James Lee Community Center in over a year. We are so thankful to everyone in the community who has helped us become the organization we are today.

Over the summer, staff worked tirelessly along with our community partners, instructors, and volunteers to organize and offer 12 in-person classes and 10 online classes as well as free supplemental tutoring to over 500 adult learners. Classes have started both online and in-person for the fall and we have been thrilled to finally see our learners and instructors back in our classrooms for a new semester, physically and virtually. Read the full letter...

Best Wishes,
Roopal Mehta Saran, Executive Director
On September 1st, we gathered in person as a community at the James Lee Community Center Theater to reflect on our achievements from the past year and the support that has been so graciously given to us throughout these challenging times at our 59th Annual Recognition Ceremony. We honored our learners, volunteers, instructors, and community partners and reflected on our journey together over the past year. The theme for this year was "Learning Lights My Path Forward" and featured LCNV student essay readers sharing the ways that learning English has impacted their future.

To learn more about LCNV’s Annual Recognition Ceremony and to read more essays from our learners, view the 2021 ARC Program Book!

You can watch the full video of the event and also watch a short video from Fairfax County’s Channel 16 News featuring LCNV’s Executive Director, Roopal Saran, Fairfax County's Providence District Supervisor, Dalia Palchik, and one of our essay readers, Ignacia Pacheco!
Since the spring of 2020, The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia and Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP) have worked closely together to design a unique Destination Workforce® class for their non-native English-speaking employees to learn how to read, write and speak in English so they can improve their chances of advancing their careers and confidence as well as their ability to communicate more comfortably with management and other employees. The class, which includes 8 different employees from ARP’s restaurants, has been meeting twice a week with LCNV instructor Laurie Hayden at Mia’s Italian Kitchen in Old Town, Alexandria since August to practice reading, writing, and speaking in English using vocabulary curated to their specific job and work environment. The employees in the class have various back-of-house positions, ranging from sous chef to line cook. In class, Laurie reviews commonly used English vocabulary words and phrases used in the kitchen, like the names of utensils and tools, as well as descriptions of food, ingredient names, and measurements. We are proud of the work these learners have accomplished over the past three months and for their determination to improve their lives and thrilled to have had the chance to work alongside ARP to develop their workforce by upskilling their employees. Read more...
We are now several weeks into our fall semester, and we are thrilled to see volunteers engaging with students in classrooms again! After more than a year online, we carefully planned to return to some of our in-person classrooms, taking every possible precaution to make sure that students, staff, and volunteers are able to stay safe without sacrificing the personal touch that has become a hallmark of LCNV’s programs. Preparations for this semester certainly required all-hands-on-deck, and as always, LCNV volunteers rose to the occasion.

Historical Marker Unveiling Ceremony at the James Lee Community Center
The James Lee Elementary School, which was originally built in 1948 as the first modern school for African Americans in Fairfax County and remains a part of the James Lee Community Center to this day, was recognized as a historical site earlier this month. The land was purchased in 1866 by James Edward Lee, an African American who was born free. His son sold the land to the Fairfax County School Board which then built the first Black school in the area. It was the first modern school for African Americans in Fairfax County and had central heat, indoor toilets, and a room for each grade. After desegregation, the school closed. Thanks to the community’s activism, it reopened in the 1990's and doubled in size, becoming the community center it is today. Members of the community, descendants of the Lee family, and former students gathered on October 2nd to celebrate this special place and honor the history of the earliest black landowners and their struggle for educational equality. We are so fortunate to have our offices and classrooms at the James Lee Community Center in such a historically significant and central location in Northern Virginia.
(Photo Courtesy of Ron Moses)
· Help us meet our match and double your impact! A generous donor will provide up to $15,000 to match increased and first-time donations (up to $2,000 each). Visit and support English language learners today!

· You may qualify for a tax credit in the state of Virginia through the Virginia Department of Education’s Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP). Individuals or married couples who donate a minimum of $500 to LCNV in the form of cash or marketable securities during the tax year will receive a tax credit of 65 percent of their donation on their Virginia State Taxes. Businesses and trusts who donate a minimum of $616 are also eligible. Find out more at

· Support LCNV by making your purchases through AmazonSmile. Go to and use your same login. Select the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia to ensure that 0.5% of all eligible purchases that you make goes to LCNV.

· If you are required to take a minimum distribution from your IRA, consult your tax professional about making a Qualified Charitable Distribution, which can reduce your taxable income.
· Does your employer participate in the Combined Federal Campaign? Give to LCNV through the CFC with designation code 28828.
· State employees can give through the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign with designation code 201310.
At LCNV, we know that providing quality adult education, workforce development, and family literacy programs requires being constantly on the lookout for the best resources to support learners, families, and instructors. Some new resources we would like to highlight are a multilingual resource hub for Afghan newcomers, free access to online trainings, and multilingual videos on digital literacy. The learner resources we would like to share are a new multilingual resource hub for Afghan newcomers, free access to online trainings, and multilingual videos on digital literacy. The instructors that we have spotlighted touch on effective practices for teaching and tutoring remotely and in person as well as webinars to learn more about Afghan newcomers and trauma-informed teaching practices.

Learn anytime and anywhere with USA Learns! USA Learns is a free website that helps adults learn English as an additional language, gain job skills, and prepare for U.S. citizenship via engaging multimedia content and educational activities.

The website was built by the Sacramento County Office of Education and was recently revamped as a mobile-optimized website. Now, learners can study anytime and anywhere on a phone, computer, or tablet. Activities will automatically resize, depending on the user’s device. Navigation is customized for mobile delivery – bigger buttons, larger fonts, etc. And there are more accessibility features, including closed captioning of all videos and alt text.

There are currently six courses – four English courses from beginner to high intermediate, a citizenship prep course, and a nursing assistant course. Courses can be completed independently or with the help of a teacher or tutor.

At the start of the pandemic, LCNV began heavily promoting USA Learns as an option for learners. It continues to be a high-quality offering – now made even better with this recent mobile optimization. Please join us in spreading the word. Course descriptions and sign-up instructions are on our website -

To learn more about the updates to USA Learns, read this blog post by the USA Learns Director or sign-up and attend the EdTech Center at World Education’s November 12th webinar.

  • LCNV welcomes two new staff members to our team, Heba Sleem, and Thiezue James. Heba is joining us as our new Associate Director of Academic Operations and Student Support, and Thiezue is our new Salesforce Administrator.  We also have two new Board members, Carisa Pineda and Sonia Aranza! Welcome!

  • Save the date! On Tuesday, November 30, 2021, the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving.

  • Learn how to help us assess our learners! Stay tuned for upcoming BEST Plus training before the end of the year! Dates and times to be announced.
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, Virginia 22042
Tel: 703-237-0866 | Fax: 703-237-2863