Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Flavia Abele

Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Flavia Abele

“The way she acts makes me feel that she cares about me”

Flavia Abele joined the Literacy Council in 2019 as a volunteer, helping weekly in the office as one of the core volunteer team to welcome adult learners and tutors as they arrived at the office, answer telephone inquiries, and help support day-to-day operations. Flavia soon became a tutor for the organization’s English as a Second Language Program (ESL) specifically supporting the Parent Literacy Program which helps parents of young children with limited English skills.

After completing tutor training, Flavia joined a team of Literacy Council Parent Literacy Program tutors, and was matched with Kari, whose child attends Waverley Elementary School.  “We work with parents who have students in school. While they are strengthening their English language skills, we try to support them to navigate their children’s school.  It can be daunting”, said Holly Bohman, Parent Literacy Program Coordinator.  FCPS Community Liaison staff, in partnership with the Judy Center, work with the Literacy Council at Butterfly Ridge, Hillcrest, Lincoln, and Waverley Elementary Schools.

Originally from Germany, Flavia speaks German, French, English and some Spanish. In Germany, she tutored children in German, English and Spanish. When she began volunteering with the Literacy Council she was working part-time as a pre-school aide at the German International School in Washington, DC.

Flavia and Kari began meeting in person, and eventually had to switch to remote learning.  When asked about working together with Flavia during their tutoring sessions, Kari shared: “I thought I was ready with the English I had, but I wasn’t.  I felt like I wanted to learn more.  Thanks to her (Flavia), she motivates me to take the time to study and believe in myself.  I am feeling more comfortable with myself.  I am feeling like I can actually communicate better with the teacher.”

Flavia enthusiastically added: “You have progressed a lot. I think it is great to see the improvement – to be able to use certain sentences and say certain things. It makes me feel good.”  Their warm relationship is apparent when Kari explains, “I can ask her or tell her something and she will understand, and not judge me. The way she acts makes me feel that she cares about me. More like a friendship learning things instead of a tutor. I have actually learned a lot. My goal is to go back to college.”

The goal of the Parent Literacy Program is to improve family literacy skills and family engagement toward positive early childhood development and school readiness, as well as creating a multi-system approach to improving literacy through strategic collaboration with community and public school resources.  Participating parents will successfully enroll their children in school, access other programs and resources for their families, be able to navigate the child’s school system, improve their own literacy skills, and perhaps pursue further learning opportunities.

Many of the parents we serve want to improve their English proficiency, both in reading and writing for native speakers as well as for English language learners.  Therefore, the need for new volunteers is essential.  Contact us to learn more about joining our teams of school-based tutors.  Adult literacy programs have a lasting impact on families with children. Last year, of the 335 adult learners who received support from the Literacy Council, 128 are parents supporting 240 children: 100 less than five years old and 134 between 6-13 years old.

Learn more HERE about the Parent Literacy Program on our YouTube channel, including an interview with Flavia and Kari sharing their experience tutoring together.

Last year, more than 150 passionate and dedicated volunteers like Flavia contributed over 12,800 hours supporting the tutoring, class, parent and workplace literacy programs. The Literacy Council is always seeking volunteers.  Learn more by registering for a 60-minute Volunteer Information Session offered every month, followed by a Tutor Training Workshop. All sessions and workshops are currently conducted online.