Literacy Council Recognizes Mason for Language Training Efforts

Posted: June 9, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

Sodexho Campus Services, the contracted company that is in charge of food distribution at George Mason, recently won a community service award for offering English language classes to Mason employees who are not literate in the English language.

Sodexho received the award from the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia (LCNV), a nonprofit educational organization that trains volunteers to teach the English language to individuals who need help reading, writing, speaking and understanding English.

Dining Services realized “if we were to continue to place associates … that were unable to communicate accurately and efficiently with customers, that we were at fault for less than ideal interactions,” says Michael Galvin, marketing manager for Dining Services.

Sodexho Campus Services, in partnership with Mason Dining Services, began the program more than two years ago. The first class of employees included 28 Sodexho workers who completed a 16-week session of twice weekly English classes. The curriculum “included vocabulary and concepts that were related to their work and life in the Mason community,” says Galvin.

After the first class completed the training, the program was expanded to the entire Mason working community with the assistance of Ed Jones of the Mason Office of Adult Learning and Professional Development; Dixiane Hallaj, executive director of the Organization to Promote Adult Literacy; and Galvin.

Thus far, 75 Sodexho employees have benefited from the program. Additionally, more than 50 employees from Mason Housing and Residence Life, Physical Plant and other contracted employees benefited from the program.

“The support of Sodexho Campus Services at George Mason University has provided accessible and affordable educational opportunities for adults and given them the chance to advance personally and professionally,” states a letter sent by LCNV to Dining Services.

“The innovative partnership in education with Sodexho, George Mason University and the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, sets the standard for the future of adult literacy and language education.”

“We are trying to do whatever we can to make the workplace better for our contract partner employees,” says John Spaldo, assistant vice president for University Services. “University Services has been very supportive of the program, both because it benefits the university community customer and Sodexho employees.”

Sodexho Campus Services expanded the program this spring by recruiting four Mason student tutors to conduct one-on-one English tutoring programs for participating employees.

The program is set to expand again this fall. Both Jones and Hallaj will be instructing NCLC 495 Experiential Learning–Special Topics, a semester-long course that will embed tutor training into the curriculum. According to Galvin, the classes will provide trained student tutors for the program.

The LCNV will honor Sodexho Campus Services at an award ceremony on Thursday, June 22.

Write to at