This is part of a series of articles focused on the area nonprofit community and the impact on our region.

“I was an early reader,” Vermont Adult Learning (VAL) teacher 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.”

VAL students come from many walks of life. Some are parents, endeavoring to finish their education 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.

“I like that I have the flexibility to teach in ways that make the most sense for my students. I adap t to serve their needs,” Ginny said.

Ginny revels in working with so many different students. She 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.”

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’s where the learning happens, amid the struggle. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced rapid new “struggles” as Ginny and her VAL colleagues shifted to delivering services virtually.*

“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, call the Rutland VAL Learning Center at 802-775-0617, visit or email to reach Chrispin White, regional director.

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