Adult Education's Leader of the Year
- Sarah Secrist Nominated by: Susan Gong
Sarah Secrist is the Program Operations Manager for The Learning Source. She is a tireless proponent of adult education who is the center of operations within our organization. She works with our CEO and board of directors to ensure the vision for The Learning Source is being realized in our classrooms. Additionally, she works with program managers to oversee all our programs, which cover English Language Acquisition, High School Equivalency, and Family Literacy. Honestly, I can’t keep track of everything that she does, but here are some of her accomplishments from the past year: she has updated our employee handbook, which contains all our standard forms and processes that are aligned with AEI policy; re-structured how we store and share files on OneDrive, which has made communication amongst our 25 locations much more efficient; organized our agency’s graduation ceremony; organized our yearly all-staff meeting and training, which was attended by about 75 staff, instructors, and volunteers; oversaw our transition to a new ESL curriculum and new TABE 11/12 assessments; and has worked to bring more technology into our classrooms. Most importantly, she has brought an incredible amount of energy and dedication to our organization and is an example to us all. She balances professionalism with warmth by setting monthly goals, meetings, and long-term expectations while also baking brownies and other treats for staff and relating to everyone on a personal level. She ties everything and everyone together. I have never had a better supervisor that can judge when to move fast and get things done and when to slow down and carefully consider all possibilities before acting. If anyone deserves this award, it is Sarah Secrist.
Adult Education's Volunteer of the Year
- Ron Hettinger Nominated by: Janet Paulson
Ron Hettinger has volunteered as a Math tutor with CCA’s High School Equivalency program since its inception in 2014. Ron’s dedication to adult education spans many years as he worked with GED prep students at other adult education providers in Aurora for several years prior to CCA’s HSE program launch.
Ron works with groups of 6-10 students twice a week. He works with ABE-level Math students – helping them to prepare for the ASE-level Math class – and ASE-level Math students to help them get ready for their HSE tests.
Over the years, Ron has made a positive impact on hundreds of adult education students. One young man in particular struggled with his studies because of issues with short-term memory due to several strokes. It took him a couple of years, but he managed to complete his GED tests, with only Math left. He had an especially hard time with algebraic formulas. After requesting a Testing Accommodation for the GED Math test, and having it denied, he was ready to quit. This student has an artistic talent and Ron figured that he might be more successful with Geometry, given how all those angles and shapes relate to one another. Ron worked with this student – focusing on geometry and repetition. It took a few practice tests and another failed attempt at the real test, but this student finally passed his GED Math test and received his High School Equivalency credential.
Ron’s interest in his students reaches beyond mathematics. Many of his students are not native English speakers and need practice with reading. Ron encourages his students to read, read, read! He’s also recommended books to them and has even loaned out his own copies for their reading enjoyment.
Adult Educator of the Year
- Haven Marsh Nominated by: Margie Wagner
Haven has worked as an ABE/HSE instructor since 2010. She is a versatile instructor having taught classes in basic reading for adults reading below a 4th grade level, mid-level reading comprehension and language arts, top level HSE preparation, math, college prep English, and a mixed-level HSE prep course with free childcare for parents at an off-site location. At this site, she often handles intake and assessment duties for both HSE and ESL students in addition to teaching. Haven has always been willing to work nights and summers.
Haven consistently participates in professional development opportunities and shares her knowledge with others. When the GED Exam was revised in 2014 and the HiSET and TASC were adopted in 2016, Haven attended any training provided, did her own research, and then shared her findings with her colleagues. She volunteered to participate in the CCRS Institute and took the lead on training the rest of the staff to adopt this new paradigm. In fall of 2015, I hired Haven as the Lead ABE/HSE Instructor; she has done a superb job of creating a high-functioning team. Haven also presented a popular workshop on teaching writing at a recent CAEPA conference.
Perhaps Haven’s most outstanding quality is her dedication to students. She is a master teacher, creating interesting lessons and differentiating instruction to meet students’ learning needs. When a student is absent, she calls or texts to make sure all is well and encourage them to persist. She will come early, stay late, tutor, offer a ride, connect students to resources, or whatever it takes to help a student succeed. Several of Haven’s HSE graduates started as ESL students and worked over several years to pass the HSE Exam. It is a thrill to witness that kind of success!
Ann Deditz Scholarship
- Diana Rangl Nominated by: Self
Outstanding Organization in Supporting Adult Education
- Cargill Nominated by: George O'Clair
Cargill Meat Solutions knew that Workplace Education was important to the development and retention of their employees. Employees could attend classes before or after their shifts on site. Their employees had improved communication, safety, and attention to quality after attending Workplace Education. Cargill worked with the program director to discover ways to make up for the lack of federal funding. The program found a refugee grant and high school money, and Cargill decided to fund the rest. Cargill also expanded Workplace Education by offering the program to the public to sustain services that Morgan Community College could no longer offer to the community.