Dorothy McKelvie, 2015 Volunteer of the Year

On April 23, Dorothy McKelvie was presented with the Wake Tech Volunteer of the Year award for 2015 at the annual Excellence Awards ceremony. Dorothy has been a volunteer with Wake Tech’s ESL program since 2009.  She has worked primarily with the refugee population in Shelley Lee’s ESL classroom, first at Wake Tech’s New Arrivals site and then at the Beltline Education Center, starting in 2015. Dorothy is a real asset in assisting our ESL students and a tireless advocate for them as well.  We are thrilled that she has won this well-deserved award. 

Below is the introduction that was read by Wake Tech President, Dr. Scott, before presenting Dorothy with her award at the Excellence Awards ceremony: 

Twice a week, for the past 5 ½ years, Dorothy McKelvie has volunteered in a Wake Tech English as a Second Language (ESL) class working with refugee students. She started with a simple intention— to be a welcoming face.  But she has become so much more to these students—a teacher and a true friend.

In Shelley Lee’s ESL class, Dorothy helps a literacy group read, speak and understand English.  Her effective teaching enables Shelley to provide targeted instruction for all her students.  Through a combined effort, Dorothy and Shelley double their impact in helping these students succeed.

Shelley’s students have opened a whole new world for Dorothy. Some fled their own countries, spent years in refugee camps, and came to Raleigh to start new lives. Many have little to no previous education, and all are so appreciative of our ESL program.

Dorothy has gotten to know the students personally, not only in class but also through home visits, occasional rides to the doctor or to parent-teacher conferences, and most recently, while helping them transition to the new Beltline Education Center.

According to Shelley, the students’ love and trust for Dorothy are unmistakable. When getting oriented to the Beltline Center, they practiced answering the question, “Who is your teacher?”  Their consistent reply—“Shelley and Dorothy.” Even when Dorothy said, “No, Shelley is your teacher,” they insisted on saying both names.

ESL supervisor Sue O’Neill says: “I cannot overstate the value Dorothy has added to our students’ experience at Wake Tech.  She has been such a blessing to so many, and I’m very thankful for her generosity of time and spirit.”

Dorothy feels very fortunate to be a WAVES volunteer and is thankful to Wake Tech for providing such a wonderful volunteer opportunity.  She is especially grateful to Sue O’Neill for giving her this opportunity and to Shelley Lee for making a true teacher out of her.  In her own words:  “It turns out I landed the best job in Wake County! It doesn’t pay well, but the rewards have been enormous.”

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