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Joy Gaine: Encouraging Students to Build Confidence


Posted on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, at 9:00 AM

Joy Gaine, an admired teacher here at VAL, began her work six years ago teaching Adult Basic Education (ABE) and working with English Language Learners (ELL). In the past few years, her work has expanded to include high school completion education, as well as advising. Originally from Long Island, New York, Joy spent her college years in the Catskill Mountains at SUNY New Paltz where she received a degree in Sociology and earned a teaching certificate in Elementary Education. Before coming to VAL, she spent time as an “in-house educator” for a nonprofit environmental organization where she focused on teaching community members how to be more sustainable citizens. In Vermont, she also worked as a paraeducator, providing instructional support within the classroom. These experiences led her to VAL which she says, “fit with my love of wanting to be an educator.” She went on to explain that she always, “liked the idea of working with adults.” She also particularly enjoys working with ELL students because she gets to learn about different countries and cultures. 

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous hardship, Joy explained that virtual learning was actually helpful for some students with transportation issues. Instead of struggling to reach the White River Junction Learning Center for class, they are able to learn from home. Additionally, the pandemic allowed Joy more flexibility when it comes to her personal life and familial obligations. Joy lives and works at home with her teenage son and her husband, a busy middle school teacher. Being at home more often has allowed her more family time, and her dog is a big fan of the new schedule. In her free time, she loves to play the guitar and sing. She is also a huge fan of the outdoors, including hiking, cross-country skiing, walking, or going to a concert outside. As most of our teachers do, she also loves to read, usually opting for historical fiction as her genre of choice. The last book she read was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and she loved it!

When asked what gets her excited about working at VAL, Joy says she just loves to help her students and watch them learn and grow. In particular, she is proud of her ELL students and enjoys watching them be more confident in their English abilities. She says that when her students improve their skills, score better on tests, or finish projects, she cannot help but be excited. Additionally, she appreciates the other staff at VAL who help her feel at home in her position. She feels supported and says she is able to voice concerns and frustrations to her colleagues and still work together in a productive, helpful, and efficient manner. Overall, Joy is proud to be an educator at VAL and is especially thankful for her students who continue to inspire her daily. 

This profile was written by Sarah Plaut, VAL Development & Marketing Intern.

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