In 2010, I met a woman who had never sent an email before and a man who had lived here all of his life but only learned English in the last 5 years. In 2011, I met a woman who had never used a computer before, but was eager to learn. In 2013, I met a man who did not know how to use the internet, but was fascinated by how quickly one could uncover answers with a few keystrokes. And by 2013, I knew I wanted to teach adults.
Before transitioning into a corporate career, I’d been working as a lead/manager in hospitality for 7 years, I had a Bachelor’s of Technology in Graphic Arts Production Management and I was sure, when all was said and done, I would end up somewhere in the middle of those two. That all changed when I accepted a Data Administrator position at one of NYC’s largest third party provider of Title I educational services. The position was new and relatively undefined; the only thing I knew for certain was that I was responsible for gathering and cleaning data and reporting this information to the NYC Department of Education. It was obvious from the outset that in order to do this, I needed to structure the way we collected data from the teacher level to that of the field supervisors. In initiating and leading this process, I began to realize the scope of the learning deficits adults potentially face.
When I began in 2010, I was introduced to something I never considered – an entire community of people who were dedicated to educating the next generation but ill prepared to do so. We dealt mostly with Yeshivas, or Jewish day schools, which tend to focus more heavily on religious studies than traditional education. Having come from this same cycle, many of our teachers did not have certain fundamental skills necessary to do their jobs. When you consider this on a whole – children who grow into adults who go on to propagate this cycle, the question becomes, what happens when they step outside that circle? What will they do when they need to communicate clearly to students, coworkers, parents and supervisors? If they never learned how to construct arguments or how to put together reports using common technology and modern research methodology, how can their ideas make a lasting impact?
Around the same time I began that job, my husband was laid off. We spent hours searching for resources to teach him new skills in hopes that it would make his resume more attractive to potential employers. We reached out to the Department of Labor but they wouldn’t teach you any new skills to help transition into another field. If you didn’t already know it, then those classes weren’t for you. We searched college websites and anything else we could think of but unless you could pay to enroll in courses or workshops, options were few and far between. Concurrently, I was watching the same struggle plague our teachers. The issue was apparent. It wasn’t just him – there are thousands of people in the same predicament. They were missing essential skills that were free, low cost or rolled into tuition when they were younger but now seemed insurmountable after reaching adulthood and spending years working a full time job.
This culmination of events sparked an idea that has since blossomed into a driving goal. Regardless of where I go or what job title I hold, I am dedicated to facilitating adult education through various mediums including webinars, social outreach and free or low cost classes with the intention to empower individuals to pursue their own personal development.