A new program is helping Alexandria Redevelopment & Housing Authority (ARHA) residents get access to college classes.
ARHA has a new partnership with the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and the Social Responsibility Group (SRG) that’s allowed a group of 15 ARHA residents to enroll in classes and start getting credits for an associate degree.
The first class is a six-week history course led by Elizabeth Clark-Lewis, a professor of history from Howard University.
Clark-Lewis said that, rather than sit in classes and lecture, she prefers to take students out to experience history.
“This group of students have been very curious and very interested in the contact with history,” Clark-Lewis said. “They’re interested in the context of history, not simply in facts and names. They understand where they’re standing is where this person stood.”
Clark-Lewis said the goal is to help the students connect with resources and opportunities around the region.
Cathy Driver, an ARHA resident and student, has a goal of opening her own business one day. She said she’s inspired by Frederick Douglass and, through the program, was able to see artifacts from Douglass’ life.
“I’m excited to learn about it all,” said Driver. “My parents came from the south when they were in 12th grade. For me and my sisters, they didn’t really know what to tell us. My mother’s side from North Carolina; my father’s side from Alabama… By taking these classes, I can tell my kids about Alexandria.”
While Driver has been researching the history of Black businesses in the region, ARHA resident and student Annette Santiago has been studying the history of Latin American immigration to the region and Alexandria in particular.
Through the program, Santiago was able to connect with a historian from Puerto Rico who helped link Santiago with other resources to use in her study. Santiago was particularly fascinated by the history of immigration to Arlandria and the formation of the Chirilagua neighborhood.
“I’m not from Alexandria and I didn’t know very much about Alexandria’s history,” Santiago said. “Now that I’m in this program, it pushed me to learn more about Alexandria… I was always wondering ‘What is Chirilagua’ and now I know.”
Driver and Santiago are both grandparents and said they were inspired by their families. Santiago said her husband is signing up for the class as well.
Beyond just learning about history, Clark-Lewis said the class helps students build a connection to their community. She particularly thanked Michael Johnson from the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities for helping to get the program together.
“Education frequently helps you develop a network for your own family and community,” said Clark-Lewis. “This wouldn’t have been possible without a connection… There is a reciprocal support network they create, not just for themselves, but for their families. This has a ripple effect, and that’s what you hope to see as a public historian. It’s not the same old boring history: it helps history come alive.”
The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s holiday program promises to bring an eclectic selection this weekend.
ASO will take the stage on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, followed by a 3 p.m. performance at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial.
“Our special guests include both BalletNova creating some Nutcracker magic on the lip of our stage on Saturday, and the fabulous non-binary soprano of Salvadoran heritage, Helena Colindres, a recent graduate of the Peabody Institute and a rising superstar,” said ASO Music Director James Ross.
Dancers with the BalletNOVA Center For Dance will perform pieces from The Nutcracker suit and soprano Helena Colindres will sing a Swedish carol, a selection from Handel’s Messiah and more.
Tickets run $5 for kids 18 and under and up to $90 for adults.
The Northern Virginia Community College has canceled classes at its Alexandria campus after a bomb threat.
The campus was shut down at 8 a.m. this morning, and all classes were canceled by 11:30 a.m. with all campus facilities being closed.
The school advised students and locals to avoid the area.
So far, the Alexandria Police Department said the bomb threat has been unfounded, but that campus police are still working to secure the campus.
The threat came in as First Lady Jill Biden was preparing to depart for to teach a class at NOVA, but the Daily Beast reported that Biden was alerted to the threat before leaving the White House.
“The First Lady was informed about a bomb threat at Northern Virginia Community College prior to departing the White House for class this morning,” her press secretary said. “At no point was she in any danger.” https://t.co/elSmNYdD3l
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) March 29, 2022
NOVA ALERT: UPDATE. All campuses are closed at 11:30AM. In-person classes are cancelled; remote classes continue as scheduled. pic.twitter.com/or3lgBNwpS
— NOVAcommcollege (@NOVAcommcollege) March 29, 2022
Photo via NOVA/Facebook
Northern Virginia Community College wants to close the achievement gap, and its new vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer has a plan.
Eun-Woo Chang started work in July by visiting all six campuses and meeting with staff. His job is to take charge of NOVA’s academic initiatives, and says that the college’s ADVANCE program, which allows for a smooth transition to a four-year degree at George Mason University, will be expanded with advisors to help Hispanic students.
“This is going to be a model,” Chang told ALXnow in a recent interview. “If we are successful, we are going to implement this to the other ethnic groups, as time goes.”
Grant funding will help, Chang said, as NOVA has secured millions in grants for the project from the U.S. Department of Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. NOVA has also received $40 million from the Virginia legislature to expand its health and trades programs.
With 72,000 students spread across its campuses, NOVA was forced to up its online offerings during the pandemic. In-person classes resumed in August 2020, and a lesson learned from the experience, Chang said, was to increase availability for Zoom classes.
“Forty percent of our classes are in person, 40% of percent of our classes are in a Zoom environment, and virtual classes make up 20% right now,” he said. “We anticipate that virtual online format is going to grow even more.”
All of this is part of NOVA’s adherence to the Virginia Community College System’s Opportunity 2027 Strategic Plan. NOVA’s graduation rate last year was 29%, a 2.6% increase over year before. Approximately 64% of students in NOVA are minorities.
Chang, who was previously in academic leadership at Ashland University in Ohio and Mercer County Community College in New Jersey, moved to the area in 2008 when he was hired as a program director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation.
He also says that having First Lady Dr. Jill Biden teaching at NOVA helps the school’s profile.
“It’s an honor for us to have her as a faculty member here,” he said.
Chang says longevity is the key to his success.
“As long as they don’t kick me out, I’ll stay here,” he said. “The longest serving provost has been here more than 15 years. And then the shortest serving provost is five or six years. So, there is a longevity, and that’s why we are successful.”
Photo via NVCC
City phones undergoing maintenance this afternoon — “FYI: Most City government phone numbers will be unavailable 3-6pm on Wednesday, Sep 15 due to system maintenance. Emergency 9-1-1 and police non-emergency numbers will be unaffected. 311 and 703-746-4311 numbers will be unaffected.” [Twitter]
Police looking for man missing since August 28 — “Abdulkarim Godah, 36, was last seen at his home in the 300 block of Yoakum Parkway. He is described as 5 foot 10 and 150 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.” [Patch]
Virginia Department of Health says measles cases came from Afghanistan — “Out of an abundance of caution, health districts in northern Virginia are informing people who were at various locations listed below during the specified time frames, that they may have been exposed to one of three people diagnosed with measles. These individuals recently traveled from Afghanistan as part of the United States government’s emergency evacuation efforts.” [VDH]
Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy skies (during the day). High around 90F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph… Overcast (in the evening) with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly during the evening. Low around 70F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Fitness center assistant at Northern Virginia Community College — “Under directions of the fitness center supervisor, this position will assist with the daily operations of the fitness center, provide answers to general questions, and explain policy and procedure to new/current members. Assist with opening and closing the fitness center. Check patron’s identification on daily basis. Monitor faculty, staff and students in usage of the equipment. Clean fitness center and equipment area on daily basis. Assist fitness center supervisor with intramural activities.” [Indeed]
First Lady Jill Biden is teaching at Northern Virginia Community College — “Starting the week of Labor Day, Biden will be spending every Tuesday and Thursday for 13 weeks on the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), according to a class schedule available to students.” [Washington Post]
ACPS needs crossing guards — “Volunteers are needed immediately to help our elementary students get to school safely due to a shortage of crossing guards. Can you help? If so, complete this volunteer application!” [Twitter]
Chinquapin pool reopens — Chinquapin Park Recreation Center and Aquatics Facility staff members are thrilled to welcome back customers! Following an extended summer closure for facility improvements, the center is now open for public use. For more information, visit alexandriava.gov/12352. [Facebook]
DASH sets up pop-up teams outside bus stops — “Our pop-up teams are still out at stops throughout our network and ready to help you make your trips on the #NewDASHNetwork or answer your questions. Come see us!” [Twitter]
Here’s the calendar for dog swims at Alexandria pools — “Treat your pooch to an end-of-summer dip in a City of Alexandria public pool. Alexandria Annual Dog Swims allow friendly dogs of all sizes to enjoy swims on Saturday, September 18 from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Warwick Pool (3301 Landover St.) and on Sunday, September 19 from 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron St.). Tickets are required for all dog handlers to attend.” [Zebra]
Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum needs volunteer tour guides — “Training is free but completing this online application is required. Following submission, a staff member will make contact to provide more details.” [Zebra]
Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy (during the day). A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 87F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph… Thunderstorms during the evening followed by occasional showers overnight. Low 67F. SSW winds shifting to NW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 90%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Temporary bilingual COVID-19 vaccine promoter — “The Vaccine Promotor(a)/CVN will engage with residents of underserved communities to provide education about COVID-19 and the importance of vaccination. The Promotor(a) will work with Neighborhood Health’s COVID-19 Outreach team to plan an overall outreach strategy and provide support to other vaccine-related activities.” [Indeed]
Alexandria government drops mask requirement — “Starting on June 15, fully vaccinated visitors and employees who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear a mask or practice physical distancing in City of Alexandria government facilities. Individuals who wish to wear a mask or practice physical distancing may continue to do so. Those who have not been fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask and maintain six feet of physical distancing in city government facilities.” [Patch]
Captain Gregory’s eyes expansion — “The popular spot is expanding, looking to add about a dozen more seats… They’ll make use of unused kitchen space and likely complete the additional space by the fall.” [Alexandria Living]
How NOVA’s esports program found unexpected success during the pandemic — “NOVA’s players come from throughout the region, but all 51 of them are united by their passion for and skill in video games.” [Alex Times]
Today’s weather — “Mostly sunny skies. High 88F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy in the evening with more clouds for later at night. Low 71F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New job: Child watch attendant — “The YMCA Alexandria invites you to apply for the Child Watch Attendant position. We are looking for a responsible and fun candidate to supervise the children and all activities by creating a fun, enriching, and safe environment for all children.” [Indeed]
Governor Ralph Northam was in Alexandria Monday to sign into law a $72.5 million initiative making tuition free for low and middle-income students who pursue high-demand jobs.
Northam was flanked by democratic legislators today when h announced at Northern Virginia Community College that funding for his “Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back” initiative (G3) has been approved. The legislation was initially announced in 2019 but funding was held up doe to the pandemic.
“It’s almost like if our children don’t go to a four year college or university they’re not going to be successful,” Northam said. “But I’m here to tell you today there are thousands of jobs out there and they don’t necessarily require a four year college education.”
The G3 program, which goes into effect on July 1, allows students who quality for full Pell Grants to get $1,000 grants per semester and $500 during the summer to receive a certificate for studying health care, information technology, manufacturing and skilled trades, early childhood education and public safety. Participants will be required to give back two hours of community service, public service, or work experience for each credit hour in which they are enrolled.
Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni said that the initiative is important for vulnerable populations.
“This initiative of G3 is really important for the Commonwealth,” he said. “This is really transformative because it is addressing wraparound services for the most students who are most vulnerable and have high needs, and financial fragility issues.”
Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy said that the effort will help students compete in a changing marketplace.
“It’s really about making sure that we can fill our jobs, making sure that we can wrap our arms around the students and make sure they can complete,” she said.
Glenn Dubois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, said that the impact of the day could not be understated.
“This is a really big day,” Dubois said. “It’s the biggest day in my career. It’s probably the biggest day since we were established (more than 50 years ago).”
Video: Gov. Northam Announces “G3” (“Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back”) Program (Includes "$145 million over the biennium to make tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields") https://t.co/YAxDizME6y
— Blue Virginia (@bluevirginia) December 12, 2019
— NOVAcommcollege (@NOVAcommcollege) March 29, 2021
Earlier today, I visited @NOVAcommcollege to sign legislation creating the G3 program, which will provide tuition-free community college and wraparound support to an estimated 36,000 Virginians pursuing degrees in high-demand fields.
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) March 29, 2021
Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC, though the school also calls itself NOVA), which has a campus in Alexandria’s West End at 5000 Dawes Avenue, has announced that there will be some in-person classes this fall when classes resume on Monday, August 24.
“While much remains uncertain about the future impacts of COVID-19, NOVA has outlined safety considerations for limited on-site instruction, services and operations during the fall semester,” the school announced on its website. “This plan is grounded in a commitment to follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidelines for COVID-19 safety.”
Alexandria City Public Schools has put forward a plan to go online-only, with few exceptions, and NVCC said the majority of its classes will be virtual as well. Computer labs, libraries, bookstores, the business office and parking will remain open, but with limited capacity.
Some classes, like, will require in-person instruction. According to NVCC, these include:
- Automotive Technology
- Dental Hygiene
- Engineering Technology
- Workforce Development
“For more hands-on classes that require a physical presence at NOVA, the College is using an individualized approach to identifying and implementing safety controls in a deliberate and sensible manner,” NVCC said. “Safety planning surveys were used to gather detail of what instruction or service will occur in each classroom or area and any unique dynamics or considerations involved. CDC and VDH guidance for physical distancing, the College evaluated each space, measured distance between seats, reviewed instructional areas and prepared plans and configurations to maximize a six-foot distance, to the extent possible.”
The school is requiring that students, faculty and staff complete an online training module that includes information about COVID-19.
Campus events and meetings have also been cancelled, as is the school’s fall athletic season.
Photo via NVCC
Regional Program Awarding 11 Grants to Local Businesses — “The Governor is authorizing $87,619.00 of funding to the Alexandria/Arlington Regional Workforce Council, through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, for employers eligible to remain open during the COVID-19 emergency. Period of performance is from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020.” [Twitter]
Beyer to Host 5 p.m. COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall — “I’ll update you on my work to support the public health response and minimize the economic damage, hear from a local public health official, and take your questions.” [Twitter]
NOVA Launches Emergency Student Aid Fund — “Northern Virginia Community College is dedicated to doing everything in its power to keep students in school to complete the current semester and continue progress toward their degrees. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to assist NOVA students during this challenging time.” [Zebra]
YMCA Giving Out Free Food For Kids — “Free meals contain 3-days’ worth of breakfast and lunch. Meal boxes can be picked up weekdays Monday through Friday from 10 am to 2 p.m. For produce packets, the pick up times at Mondays 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesdays 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. Any child, regardless of their affiliation with the YMCA, may pick up boxed meals two times per week – children must be 18 or younger.” [Zebra]
Fire Department Recruits Finish Training — “Congrats to Recruit School 49 who finished training last week. To avoid a large gathering, we postponed their graduation ceremony. As they report to their assigned stations, we just want to say we’re proud of them, and we’re happy to have them as part of our Fire & EMS family.” [Twitter]
Animal Welfare League of Alexandria Suspending Adoptions — “We are currently booked for adoption appointments through Wednesday, March 25, and we will be suspending adoptions after that time.” [Zebra]
Deli Expands Carryout and Delivery Menus — “Market 2 Market Del Ray is expanding their carryout & delivery menu to include key grocery items — produce, dairy items, meats & cheeses, and bread — in addition to beer, wine, and the best deli sandwiches in the neighborhood!” [Facebook]
Virtual Peer Support Group Launching — “In the current climate of uncertainty and social distancing, Del Ray Psych & Wellness unveils a new 30-day Facebook-based support group, ‘Connection Without Infection.'” [Facebook]
Visit Del Ray Lists Open Restaurants and Shops — “Curbside pickup with gloves and a smile at Junction Bakery & Bistro. Latest updates on restaurant statuses…” [Facebook]