2006.03.04: March 4, 2006: Headlines: COS - Mali: Civil Rights: Awards: Page News and Courier : Mali RPCV Mary Alice Liscomb Earns LFCC Award For Work With ESL Students

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mali: Peace Corps Mali : The Peace Corps in Mali: 2006.03.04: March 4, 2006: Headlines: COS - Mali: Civil Rights: Awards: Page News and Courier : Mali RPCV Mary Alice Liscomb Earns LFCC Award For Work With ESL Students

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Mali RPCV Mary Alice Liscomb Earns LFCC Award For Work With ESL Students

Mali RPCV Mary Alice Liscomb Earns LFCC Award For Work With ESL Students

“The Malians taught me the importance of generosity and hospitality by welcoming me with open arms into their community,” she said. It’s that sense of helpful hospitality that Liscomb has sought to recreate through Page County’s ESL program over the past seven years.

Mali RPCV Mary Alice Liscomb Earns LFCC Award For Work With ESL Students

‘Walking King’s Talk’

Liscomb Earns LFCC Award For Work With ESL Students

By Joe Farruggla

Caption: Page County teacher Mary Alice Liscomb accepts Lord Fairfax Community College’s “Walking King’s Talk” award during a presentation ceremony this week. Photograph by Joe Farruggla

In his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed a vision of black and white Americans living together in brotherhood, where people were “no longer be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

This Monday that dream expressed itself in the form of Page County educator Mary Alice Liscomb, who was honored with Lord Fairfax Community College’s third annual “Walking King\'s Talk” award.

LFCC President Dr. John J. \"Ski\" Sygielski presented the award, saying it recognized an individual who is “actively involved in improving human relations in his or her community, exemplifies the peaceful philosophy and faith of Martin Luther King Jr., is an advocate of equal justice and opportunity for all people, lives a life of service and is a positive role model for others.”

Liscomb, a native of Page County and a graduate of Luray High School, served for three years with the Peace Corps in the western African country of Mali from 1991-93 along with her husband, Chance Liscomb.

She said it was that experience that guided her in developing Page County’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program from its inception in 1999 to the present.

During her brief acceptance remarks, Liscomb said during her time in Mali that she was at first frustrated over what she thought was her inability to communicate.

\"I had been there for six weeks and was sitting outside, poring over my language textbooks, wondering why none of it was making any sense,\" she said.

Then a native woman came by with a basket on her head and stopped. She reached inside the basket and offered Liscomb a small portion of the food.

It was only then, Liscomb recalled, that she realized her presence was having a positive impact.

“The Malians taught me the importance of generosity and hospitality by welcoming me with open arms into their community,” she said.

It’s that sense of helpful hospitality that Liscomb has sought to recreate through Page County’s ESL program over the past seven years.

Liscomb began her tenure with Page County schools teaching third and fourth grades at Luray Elementary School. She now works exclusively with children of all grades in the ESL program, primarily Spanish speakers.

She also works with parents in an adult basic education program that focuses on language development, child-rearing challenges and daily life skills.

She also established an Hispanic hotline, which works like a telephone tree where important school and community information is relayed to families in their own language.

\"Her relationship with the families of the children she serves helps to connect them to the community and to each other,\" said Donna Whitley-Smith, Page County’s assistant superintendent of instruction, in a nomination application.

“It is remarkable that Mary Alice would never think of herself or her efforts on behalf of others in terms of the ‘Walking King\'s Talk’ award,” Whitley-Smith’s nomination continued. “But then her actions spring not from a desire to right social wrongs, but from a deep abiding concern for all people, leading her to live a life that exemplifies the tenets of the Golden Rule.”

Page County school Superintendent Dr. Randy Thomas, who attended Monday\'s award presentation at LFCC, also praised Liscomb. He called her “an outstanding young leader and a valuable employee who does an excellent job with our ESL program.”

When this story was posted in March 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Page News and Courier

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