Outstanding Volunteer Award Nominee

Describe how volunteers enhance student success in the consortium

WEST ABE  engages trained volunteers to assist teachers in the classrooms in a variety of ways including tutoring one-on-one or in small groups, acting as a classroom or a computer lab assistant and assisting with clerical work.  Other volunteers, under the direction of a licensed instructor, pull students out of class to work on fluency (Academics) or conversation (ELL). In program year 2018-2019 WEST had 61 volunteers provide 4,604 hours. Initial and ongoing volunteer training complies with all requirements outlined in the state Volunteer Training Standards Policy.

We provide 12 hours of initial ABE/ESL orientation and training twice a year, in the spring and fall, in partnership with the MN Literacy Council.  If prospective volunteers are unable to attend our trainings, we refer them to the trainings at the MLC. Even though most of our volunteers are exempt from the MN Volunteer Training Standards, we encourage them to complete the 12 hour training. The exemption includes volunteers that have a current Minnesota K-12 teacher license, current Minnesota ABE teacher license, or over 400 hours of documentable ABE instruction in a program or programs comparable to the Minnesota ABE system.

The volunteers are subject to background checks. The teachers have the responsibility of orienting the volunteers to their assigned classrooms and respective duties.

Initial training for volunteers consists of three parts.

  1. The first is a requirement to attend a 12-hour pre-service training offered by the Minnesota Literacy Council (MLC).
  2. The second phrase of initial training involves familiarizing the volunteer with the building as well as an interview to discuss the volunteers’ interests and skills to determine the best match. During this part of training, volunteers are given a packet general information about adult basic education, WEST ABE information, and information about safety procedures.
  3. A third element of initial training requires the volunteer to visit several classes in both PreGED/Academics and English Language Learner during the time the volunteer would be volunteering.

WEST provides two hours of on-going training per year through the consortium. Some volunteers choose to take an annual 2 hour training at the MLC. We also celebrate with a Volunteer Appreciation party annually to honor all of the help that they have donated to WEST and our students throughout the year.

This year one of our volunteers was honored through the Minnesota Literacy Council, for the Outstanding Volunteer Award.  Bob is involved with veteran volunteer work and he has served many years with WEST. Bob was nominated for the award because of his work asking the Central Minnesota Legal Aid to have a Spanish-speaking volunteer lawyer available on Thursdays at the courthouse Law Library in Buffalo for immigration issues. This is now part of their free legal advice program.