2015 COABE Award Honorees

OUtstanding Adult Learner of the Year


My name is Ismael Hernandez Dimas, and I’m 24 years old. I am originally from Morelia, México but I have lived in the US since 2009. My parents have always taught me that education is the best investment anyone can make. I was decided I wanted to keep with my education, but we came from México knowing just the basics of English and when I tried to register for classes I could not do it due to my poor English. One of NWACC’s advisors told me that I needed to go to the NWACC Adult Education Center to learn English. He said I had to go there because I was too old to go to any of the high schools. At that moment, I felt so frustrated because I could not continue the education I worked so hard back in my country.

Outstanding Teacher of the Year
Kitty Head

Kitty Head joined the staff at Jefferson County Public Schools Adult Education in 1986. With her 38 years of instructional experience, Kitty is frequently called upon as a contributor for program strategy sessions to best meet student needs and provide resources for her fellow staff members. Always an avid student advocate, Kitty is able to reach students on a personal level to better understand their needs and guide them to skill upgrades and the attainment of individual goals. She currently teaches all four subjects of the GED® including Science, Social Studies, Math, and Language Arts and was instrumental in the development of study packets to help students adjust to the new 2014 GED® series.

Outstanding Administrator of the Year
Dom Gagliardi

Dom has been a teacher, professional developer, and administrator in adult and alternative education for 32 years in two school districts in the San Diego, CA area. He taught English, high school subjects, ABE, and GED in a correctional setting and at the adult school. He was Administrative Coordinator and Correctional Education Coordinator at Grossmont Union High School District. He currently serves as principal of Escondido Adult Education and ROP in northern San Diego County. Executive Director for CA Council for Adult Education (CCAE). Adriana Sanchez-Aldana says, “I have known Mr. Dom Gagliardi for almost 20 years, and during that time I have come to value his dedication and hard work. Although we have always worked in different school districts in the San Diego area, I have had the pleasure of working with him on a number of projects and conferences. He is a diligent and detailed person who is not afraid to make the tough decision when necessary.

Scholarship Award
Gusmon Edouard

I am the Assistant Director and the Instructional Specialist at the Greater Homewood Adult Learning Center, in Baltimore city, where I coordinate the ESOL program and professional development for the teaching staff. I have an M.A. in TESOL and a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Transformation Across Cultures from SIT Graduate Institute, Vermont. Currently, I am M.S. candidate in Learning Design and Technology at Purdue University.

I am a dynamic professional with more than thirteen years of successful experience in ELT and Teacher Training. I have worked as an EFL/ESL/ ESOL teacher, teacher trainer, and projects coordinator in domains as diverse as cross-border initiatives, conflict transformation, and peace education. I have been a speaker at several TESOL international conventions and have spoken at the MAACCE (Maryland Association For Adult Community and Continuing Education) and the MDTESOL annual conferences every year for the past four years, and currently serve on the board of MAACCE. 

Scholarship Award
Ann McCauley

Twenty years ago, I (Ann McCauley) was employed in the Head Start program and planned to devote my life to serving young children. I had spent ten years working in Head Start and had a goal of one day achieving my dream job as director. Before I became the director, my agency received a grant to open an Even Start Family Literacy Program in one of the Head Start centers. Parents were going to come to school with their children to work toward their GED certificates in a nearby classroom. It was a collaborative effort between the Head Start program and the Adult Education program in the local school district.


Incentive Grant
Ann Watts

Ann Watts is a director of Career and Adult Education at the Baker County School District in northeast Florida. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and her Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida. Under her leadership the adult education programs in the district have grown to include sub-campuses in outlying areas and accessibility through online delivery. Equally, in rural Baker County career and technical education has expanded to post-secondary offerings under her direction. 


National Institute for Literacy Award
Jennifer Wigginton

Jennifer Wigginton is the Executive Director of  e Literacy Center in Evansville, Indiana and has been for seven years. Her favorite part of her job is watching the adult learner’s progress and her least favorite is writing grants. She was born and raised in Evansville, IN and graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a Bachelor of Science in Communications.

She considers herself a lifelong learner. Wigginton said, “I want to attend COABE because of the vast amount of knowledge to gain through all of the styles of teaching and I enjoy meeting people of adult education at conference.”

Description of COABE Awards

The Adult Learner of the Year Award is provided to a learner who has demonstrated leadership within the formal or non-traditional learning environments.  This award is given to a student who has overcome difficult circumstances to pursue adult learning, who has supported other adult learners, and who has managed significant adult responsibilities such as those related to employment, family or community.

The Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Edgar M. Easley Award is provided to a practitioner with five or more years of adult education teaching experience that participates in school and community activities.  This award is given to an individual who understands the characteristics of the adult learner and who is committed to the adult/continuing education profession.

The Adult Basic Education Administrator of the Year Award is awarded to an adult education administrator with five or more years of experience who has made an outstanding contribution toward fostering the concept of education as a continuing life-process. The awardee must demonstrate a contribution to adult education at the community, state, and/or national levels.


COABE Incentive Grants

COABE provides incentive grants which support activities or projects in the field of adult basic education through the secondary level.  The best practices gained by the incentive grant winners will be archived in an online repository as a resource for the literacy field. The overall purposes of the grants are to promote:

  • Field-based, practitioner-developed activities for student/faculty growth
  • Program improvement through enhanced curriculum, instruction, assessment, counseling, student services, research/evaluation, or community involvement

Projects that are considered for support may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In-house video production for orientation, staff development, instructional scenarios
  • Mentor teacher or peer coaching training/implementation
  • Development and dissemination of innovative instructional materials/techniques, including distance learning activities
  • Assessment and evaluation procedures
  • Small research projects such as student follow-up studies, classroom research on effective instructional techniques, effect of child care service on attendance, etc.
  • Cross cultural training
  • Systematic evaluation and training for innovative use of software for specific purposes
  • Enhanced guidance activities, student services, student handbooks
  • Expanded recruitment/retention strategies
  • Development and implementation of student needs assessment
  • Development of instructor resources such as handbooks, supplementary materials, abstracted bibliographies or materials evaluation and selection for professional libraries, developing/collecting and cataloging a realia library
  • Networking/community linkages

COABE Scholarships

Scholarships from COABE fund, or partially fund, college level courses of study that will advance the professional standing of COABE practitioners.  Examples of scholarships include employees or volunteers in the field of adult basic education earning a degree or a state certificate/credential; obtaining an ESL certificate; teacher/counselor obtaining counselor/administrative credential; earning an advanced degree in adult education.

Special Thanks

Special thanks to Dollar General for its financial support in sponsoring the COABE awards, incentive grants, and scholarship program!