Virginia Lewis is determined to help students at New Community’s Adult Learning Center succeed. That’s why after class ends at 1:30 p.m., Lewis, who teaches the GED course, stays later to meet with any students that want extra help.
Her determination comes, in part, from the fact that her students face serious challenges.
Some students are still learning the English language. Others show up at her classroom not by choice, but because they are compelled by a parent or as part of a requirement to receive public assistance. Still others have learning disabilities that may be undiagnosed. Plus, it’s not easy being in school as an adult. (Her class ranges in age from 18 to 60 years old, she said.)
“It’s an uphill battle,” Lewis said. “Even for the most serious students.”
According to the center’s director, Cristian Barcelos, Lewis “has dedicated innumerable hours” to helping her students prepare for the high school equivalency test. She first began working at the Adult Learning Center in 2009.
“Ms. Lewis’ dedication to her students is boundless and you can always find her looking for new ways to teach the material to her students as well as assisting them in finding information related to their personal lives and needs,” Barcelos said.
During the first part of the day, Lewis focuses on vocabulary, grammar and essay writing, as well as social studies. In the afternoon, she focuses on math. “I write on the board non-stop,” she said with a smile. “We have a lot of information to cover in nine weeks.”
Before working at New Community, Lewis was a teacher at a Catholic school in Morristown and also volunteered as an ESL tutor for Literacy Volunteers of America, until they recruited her for a job.
A New Jersey native, Lewis attended Montclair State University where she graduated with a degree in art history. She became interested in literacy after she adopted her two daughters from Korea and began volunteering in their classrooms when they entered.