In honor of National Volunteer Week this month, we are highlighting Katie Gray, a volunteer with over seven years of experience at CCANO’s English as a Second Language program.
While still a student at Tulane University, Katie began volunteering with CCANO’s ESL program as a service learning fulfillment for a Latin Studies class. “One day, they were low on tutors, so I had five or six students,” Katie reminisces on one of her early days with the program, “and I realized that I really liked the group setting, so I asked one of the directors if I could teach a class.”
Over the years, Katie has taught all four class levels that CCANO offers. She has continued volunteering because of the people she has met. “The way the staff empowers volunteers to do things, to move up through the volunteer ranks, and to try out different positions is so energizing,” Katie says.
The ESL staff is grateful to have such a dedicated volunteer participating for so long in the program. “Katie has helped us with leading professional development training for other volunteers, with orientation for new students, and is truly committed to our student’s success. She coordinates student field trips to the library and to volunteer with other organizations so they can practice their English and give back to the community,” reveals Sharon Moscoso, ESL Program Manager. “She has helped clients get closer to self-sufficiency by assisting them with their resumes, financial literacy, and, most importantly, being a friendly face in the community that cares about their success.”
Katie’s favorite part of volunteering with the ESL program is getting to know her students. She shares, “They’ve lived through so much, and they always arrive so happy to learn our culture and our language. It’s so cool to watch the Level 1 students really get it about halfway through the semester.”
When not volunteering, Katie is a language teacher at Isidore Newman High School. She feels that teaching ESL has made her a better communicator in all areas of life.