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“I love seeing the difference in my students’ lives”


Posted on Thursday, September 3, 2020, at 6:01 PM

“I was an early reader,” Ginny Dugan said.  “I always loved the written word and books were my constant companion. I appreciate writers finding ‘the right word’ to express an idea.”

Ginny grew up in Poultney, Vermont and developed an early love of reading. She studied English in college and maintains her licensure to teach grades 7-12.  Ginny joined VAL in 1999 and avidly shares her love of learning with her students.

“My job has changed a lot over the years,” Ginny said. “When I started, I worked half-time as an Adult Basic Education teacher and half-time as a Parent Educator via the Even Start family literacy initiative.  I worked with emergent readers.  I taught reading, writing and math.  I also taught college prep and Career 101 classes.” (The latter focused on soft skills for the workplace.)

“I like that I have the flexibility to teach in ways that make the most sense for my students.  I adapt to serve their needs. I also learned that I really like teaching concepts in other areas — science, history and even math,” Ginny says with a laugh.

VAL students come from many walks of life. Some are parents, endeavoring to finish their educations while supporting their families. Some are traditional high school-aged students who experience barriers in accessing their education at their local school. Some are New Americans, displaced from their homelands by political and/or economic unrest. Each has a story and a desire to further their education.

Ginny revels in working with so many different students. She fondly recalls a student who enrolled at VAL to complete their high school diploma and learned they had an aptitude for accounting. Their “discovery” prompted high school completion followed by work towards an accounting degree. Ginny has witnessed many of her students use VAL as a launchpad to well-paying careers in health care, business and the trades. She loves teaching and cares deeply for her students.

“Students arrive excited by the possibilities,” Ginny said, “and they want to finish their high school education. Sometimes, ‘life happens’ (a family obligation, an illness, a job change, etc.) and they leave and come back, and leave and come back again. We alwayswelcome students back. Something clicks for them—internally and in their external lives—and it’s the right time for them to finish.”

“I love seeing the difference in my students’ lives,” Ginny said. “Their view of what they thought they could do and what they learn they can do vastly changes.  They realize they can do so much more in their lives.”

Ginny recognizes that she must continue to learn to be an effective teacher. She points out that all learners — including herself — experience some struggle grasping new material. That is where the learning happens, amidst the struggle.  The COVID-19 Pandemic introduced rapid new “struggles” as Ginny and her VAL colleagues shifted to delivering services virtually.* 

“I miss my students and I’ve learned we can still maintain a connection,” Ginny said

“I love attending graduations, seeing students’ sense of accomplishment and being able to say to them, ‘Look at what you’ve done for yourself…and your children.’”

*VAL is carefully reopening its sites in accordance with Vermont Department of Health guidelines.  For more information, please contact the VAL Learning Center closest to you:  https://vtadultlearning.org/find-us/

© Vermont Adult Learning

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