Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mario Gomez: From ESL Student to High School Diploma - with Hard Work, Dedication, and San Mateo Adult School

Mario Gomez graduated in June with a High School Diploma story.  His story, here in his own words, is powerful testament to the strength of himself and his family and the value of Adult Education.

My name is Mario Gomez, and I firmly believe that the importance of education is something that we learn at the young age.

I came from a humble family in Guatemala. Neither of my parents had an opportunity to attend high school, and faced many struggles in their lives. When I was five years old my single mother left me with my relatives in Guatemala, and she decided to come looking for better opportunities in the United States. Even though I spent most of my childhood without my parents, I never felt alone because I had the love of my relatives. They made a commitment early in my life to do everything in the correct way within their power to instill in me a love of learning and an understanding of the importance of hard work and dedication.

My childhood was not easy, but I overcame all the bad moments to gain more life experiences, and all my mistakes were lessons. I moved to the United States in 2008 at the age of 22, and everything was so different from my country and it was a new challenge in my life. My main concern was, where I could learn English? My mother told me about the San Mateo Adult School and its great programs and she encouraged me to attend the English classes. When I started to attend the school, I was afraid to communicate, but I learned that I am the only person responsible for my success. I remember when one of my teachers told me, “Mario, no matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress. You are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying. You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.”

Those words inspired to keep going in school. At the same time, I met great teachers in the school who believed in my potential and they always encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

Once I completed my studies in the ESL program, l decided to take the opportunity to enroll in the High School Diploma Program. During my long path in the high school diploma, I learned the importance of studying, hard work and dedication. Also inspired me to help the school by serving on the student council as board member because I wanted to give back what the school has done for me.

One of my childhood dreams is to work for a company or organization that helps people and I decided that my next goal is to study psychology or nursing at Cañada College because “I want to help and inspire people because people will rarely remember what you did for them, but they will always remember how you made them feel, and I learn from my own experience that life is not about making others happy; life is about sharing your happiness with others. “
Mario and Mr. T
Family, teachers, school administrators, friends and of course my fellows graduates, I want to thank you all of you for support that you have given us to reach this point in our lives. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you and I wish you the best in your near future.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Guidelines for Navigating New Waters

The July 10, 2015 Technical Webinar had a lot of helpful information to help guide us through new waters we're sailing through.

Implementation Focus Group's Draft Guidelines
     Listen to the Recording

Saturday, July 11, 2015

GED and High School Diploma Success Stories

From San Mateo County Times (July 2015) Columnist Carolyn Livengood,
a story of why Adult Education matters:
Proud San Mateo Adult School 2015 Graduates
Photo Credit: Tom Jung

San Mateo Adult School awards 44 high school diplomas, 31 GED certificates

San Mateo Adult School awarded 44 high school diplomas and 31 GED certificates at its annual graduation ceremony held June 17 for graduates ranging in age from 17 to 51 years old this year.

Mr. T and Graduate
Photo Credit:  Tom Jung
About 180 people, including 24 of the 75 total graduates, attended the annual graduation ceremony held June 17 at the College of San Mateo. Graduate Rebeca Zuleta, who earned two scholarships, and Director Lawrence "Larry" Teshara, known affectionately as "Mr. T" by the students, welcomed them to the event.

The adult school, part of the San Mateo Union High School District, is at The SMART Center in San Mateo. Scholarship awards, totaling $15,050 were presented to 15 students. The winners, their city of residence, and their scholarship donors are:

* Rebeca Zuleta, of Fremont (formerly San Mateo), John and Lisa Nelson.
* Megan Tzoc, Burlingame, William E. and Janet J. Price.
* Jose Pina, Redwood City, San Mateo Masonic Lodge #226.
* Marlon Ticas, San Bruno, Burlingame Masonic Lodge No. 400.
* Debra Benavides, Redwood City; Martha Contreras, San Mateo; Carmen Rivera, Burlingame; and Rebeca Zuleta; Burlingame Bodies of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.
* Nathan Nack, San Mateo, Jenny Bratton/GED.
* Mario Gomez, San Mateo, Rotary Club of Foster City.
* Felipe Diaz Vega, San Mateo; Ai-Chu Huang, Millbrae. and Darlyng Lopez, San Bruno; Lynda Mathe Memorial;
* Brian Zamora, San Mateo, Steven Paul Friedman Foundation.
* Isabella Cavett, Belmont, Golden Gate Commandery No.16.
* Fernando Zelaya, San Mateo, Shipman Family (in honor of Lawrence Teshara).

Mario Gomez speaking at Graduation 2015
Photo Credit:  Tom Jung
The student speakers, who shared their stories of overcoming challenges in their life in order to graduate, were: Mario Gomez, Debra Benavides, Jose Pina, Brian Zamora, Isabella Cavett, and Fernando Zelaya.

"The San Mateo Adult School provided an alternative for me at a point in my life when I thought all else was gone," Fernando Zelaya said. "I recently moved from Mississippi to California to finish up my last year of school. I started my senior year attending San Mateo High School.

"I never had the problem of attending school, but this year nothing seemed to go right for me, especially at home. Adapting to a new school, new classmates, new family members, and having to work to pay bills, all these challenges coming my way and I didn't know what to do. My grades were significantly going down, my attendance was getting worse by the weeks, and stress was getting worse by the day.
Graduate speaking
Photo Credit:  2015

"Soon I was called by the counselor of my school to talk about my situation. I was given the opportunity to finish my work on my own times. After a few weeks of attending, I realized I wasn't the only one with personal problems there. I saw the determination in each one of us. I saw that no matter what was happening outside of school, we were still going to strive for our success. Along with the awesome staff at San Mateo Adult School working hard to help us achieve our goals, I think I can say that we have made it here today."

Robert Graffin and Graduate Mario Gomez
Photo Credit:  Tom Jung

Robert Griffin, clerk, San Mateo Union High School District board of trustees, gave closing remarks to the graduates.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

VALUE USA - Adult Learner Leadership Conference Scholarships - Apply by July 20

Voice of Adult Learners United to Educate -
Thank You to Our Helping Foundations
We would like to take the time to thank our supporting foundations for which most of what we do is because of their generous donations.

A big thank you goes to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for helping out VALUEUSA and by sponsoring our Susan D. Green Memorial Award Dinner, an annual meeting and award banquet event on Wednesday, August 12 for the upcoming Leadership Institute. Another thank you goes to the Anderson-Rogers Foundation for providing general support enabling the Leadership Institute to continue operating and reach its goals. We appreciate both of their continued support to VALUEUSA.


Limited Free Registrations
We are pleased to announce that we have been granted a scholarship from SMRT Education to provide adult learner students outside of Texas a free registration! This is what SMRT Education has to say:

"SMRT Education stands with the idea that student leadership is an integral part of student success. Conferences such as the one held annually by VALUEUSA, that allow students to set the agenda and facilitate their own professional growth, are the kind of empowering, SEL friendly activities that SMRT Education strongly supports."

This is a limited opportunity to get out-of-state adult learners a free registration for our conference! All you need to do is contact our office by July 20 either by phone or e-mail to let us know that you need a registration. These free registrations are in limited number so the earlier you contact the better.

Our e-mail address and phone number:
(484) 443-8457
Hotel Reservations and Early Registrations
Lastly we want to inform you that Wednesday, July 15 is the final date to get early bird rates for registrations and RSVP a Grand Hyatt hotel room at $115 for a single occupancy. Higher occupancy adds only $25 for person to this price.

Rooms are getting booked quickly and there’s only a few days left before registration prices increase. You can also become a member to save more on registration even after the deadline above.

Registrations are available online and hard copy mail through our website at

You can call the hotel at (888) 421-1442 and let them know you’re with VALUEUSA to get the special rates or reserve online using this link

If you are still considering sponsoring an event or want to help get an adult learner to the conference, you can sponsor by July 31 using this link

Check us on
Contact Us
1 West 2nd Street
Media, PA 19063

(484) 443-8457

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Older Adults Adult Education in the News and in the Budget

In the final part of the budget process, funding for Older Adults Adult Education ( -- to at least some degree), was added into trailer bill AB104.  The new budget was signed by Governor Brown and it goes into effect tomorrow July 1, 2015. 

 The new trailer bill language in AB104 can be found here.

Here are three articles and an announcement from Assembly Member Roger Hernandez' website:

1.  Assembly Member Hernandez Rallies Support for Older Adult Education - Assembly Member Roger Hernandez' website

Today, Assemblymember Roger Hernández (D-West Covina) held a press conference to discuss the importance of keeping older adult education programs a priority in the state budget. Hundreds of supporters came to voice the need to maintain programs which are vital to the success of California’s diverse and multigenerational population available to our senior community throughout the state.  
According to the California Department of Aging, almost one in five Californians will be over age 65 by 2030. With a large generation of baby boomers beginning to retire, older adult programs are instrumental to help keep seniors active and healthy in our communities while also providing societal savings in medical costs.

“The benefits of older adult education classes for seniors are invaluable. These classes provide an opportunity for seniors to improve their mental and physical health.  It provides them a space to be engaged, to participate in their communities, and remain independent,” stated Assemblymember Hernández. “The voice and needs of our seniors should not be lost as California puts its budget priorities forward.”  Read the article in full here.

Assembly Member Roger Hernandez' press conference
about Older Adults Adult Education

2. Older Adults Programs Get Last Minute Funding in State Budget  June 10, 2015, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

"A group of determined seniors were celebrating Wednesday after a state budget committee changed wording that will allow adult schools to keep their older adult programs.
The Legislative Budget Conference Committee decided late Tuesday to include older adult programs on the list of programs eligible for state funding. The programs, including Baldwin Park’s Older Adult Program, had been on the chopping block after they were excluded from Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget.

“The action taken by the budget conference committee to restore older adult education funding is a victory for seniors in Baldwin Park, seniors in the San Gabriel Valley and seniors across California,” Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, said in a statement. “I am extremely proud of the community coming together and making older adult programs a top priority. Without seniors in my district who brought this to my attention directly, this would not have happened. They deserve the full credit.”  Read the article in full here.

3.   LAUSD To Lay Off Teachers in Older Adult Program.  City To Pick Up Slack.  June 17, 2015, LA Times

"In an effort to save $2 million, Los Angeles Unified officials plan to lay off all 18 teachers who instruct wellness classes for older adults.

This year, the program taught 12,392 seniors how to stay physically active and mentally alert with courses such as yoga and memory training."

4.  Last Minute Moves Support Student Discipline, Adult Ed - Cabinet Report, June 24, 2015.

"The list of courses that Adult Education programs may offer is laid out in the final trailer bill language and they include classes for older adults, as has always been the case.
In a major restructuring of how the programs are overseen and funded, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed removing some of the less “academic” type courses often available through Adult Education, including classes for the elderly and some non-credit classes. It appears as though advocates for those groups won out.

For some 150 years, adult education in California has served as a core service to integrating new immigrants into U.S. society as well as a reentry point for high school dropouts and older students who wanted a chance at higher education.

The national recession devastated adult programs, as the state was forced to move money traditionally earmarked for those services to general educational uses. According to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, which shares jurisdiction over adult education with K-12 schools, overall participation fell by more than 800,000 students between 2008 and 2013.
The budget offers $500 million for adult education that would be distributed based on regional needs by the Community College Chancellor, the state superintendent and the California State Board of Education."

AB104: New Rules for a New Era in Adult Education

AB104 is the trailer bill about Adult Education.

Go here to read AB104 in full.

Go here to get to it via the AB86 website (the place to go for info about the new Regional Consortia system).

There are lots of things to learn and understand.

Here are a few bits. 

First, from the AB86 website:

AB104: Adult Education Block Grant

The California Legislature has passed Assembly Bill 104 which  includes the legislation for the Adult Education Block Grant. The Adult Education Block Grant will fund adult education providers and the adult education regional consortia.  Please refer to Sec. 39, Article 9, Section 84900.

What's Next?

With this final language, the CCCCO and the CDE are working together to develop guidance regarding next steps for implementation of the Adult Education Block Grant. Guidance regarding the fund allocations,  reporting requirements, and outcomes and measures will be forthcoming over the coming weeks and months. We will be sure to keep you updated and will continue to provide technical assistance webinars to provide as much assistance as we can as we transition to implementation of your regional plans. Draft guidance is expected to be made public in July 2015.

From the CCAE Legislative Update:

Programs eligible for funding include:

o   Basic skills, high school equivalency/diploma
o   Citizenship, ESL
o   Workforce entry or reentry, including explicit ability for older adults to access these programs
o   Adult programs, including older adult access, that are "primarily designed to develop knowledge and skills to assist elementary and secondary school children to succeed academically in school" (a la child development for elementary and secondary school children)
o   Adults with disabilities programs
o   Short term career technical education
o   Pre-apprenticeship programs/activities
Section 39 
 (a) Funds apportioned for the program shall be used only for support of the following:
(1) Programs in elementary and secondary basic skills, including programs leading to a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate.
(2) Programs for immigrants eligible for educational services in citizenship, English as a second language, and workforce preparation.
(3) Programs for adults, including, but not limited to, older adults, that are primarily related to entry or reentry into the workforce.
(4) Programs for adults, including, but not limited to, older adults, that are primarily designed to develop knowledge and skills to assist elementary and secondary school children to succeed academically in school.
(5) Programs for adults with disabilities.
(6) Programs in career technical education that are short term in nature and have high employment potential.
(7) Programs offering preapprenticeship training activities conducted in coordination with one or more apprenticeship programs approved by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards for the occupation and geographic area.
(b) A consortium may use no more than 5 percent of funds allocated in a given fiscal year for the sum of the following:
(1) The costs of administration of these programs.
(2) The costs of the consortium.

SEC. 22.

 Section 41976 of the Education Code is amended to read:
 (a) For purposes of this chapter, the following classes and courses are authorized to be offered by school districts and county superintendents of schools for apportionment purposes from the adult education fund:
(1) Adult programs in parenting, including parent cooperative preschools, and classes in child growth and development, parent-child relationships, and parenting.
(2) Adult programs in elementary and secondary basic skills and other courses and classes required for the high school diploma. Apportionments for these courses and classes may only be generated by students who do not possess a high school diploma, except for remedial academic courses or classes in reading, mathematics, and language arts.
(3) Adult education programs in English as a second language.
(4) Adult education programs for immigrants eligible for educational services in citizenship, English as a second language, and workforce preparation classes in the basic skills of speaking, listening, reading, writing, mathematics, decisionmaking and problem solving skills, and other classes required for preparation to participate in job specific technical training.
(5) Adult education programs for adults with disabilities.
(6) Adult short-term career technical education programs with high employment potential. Any reference to “vocational” education or programs in adult education means “career technical” education or programs in adult education.
(7) Adult programs for older adults.
(8) Programs offering pre-apprenticeship training activities conducted in coordination with one or more apprenticeship programs approved by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards for the occupation and geographic area.
(9) Adult programs in home economics.
(10) Adult programs in health and safety education.
(b) No state apportionment shall be made for any course or class that is not set forth in subdivision (a).
For comparison purposes, AB86 originally stated:

The purpose of AB 86 Section 76, Article 3 is to provide grant funds to regional consortium to create and implement a plan to better provide adults in its region with all of the following:

  • Elementary and secondary basic skills, including classes required for a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate
  • Classes and courses for immigrants eligible for education services in citizenship and English as a second language and workforce preparation classes in basic skills
  • Education programs for adults with disabilities
  • Short-term career technical education programs with high employment potential
  • Programs for apprentices

June 26, 2015 AB86 Technical Webinar: New Rules

The latest AB86 Technical Webinar was all about the new rules.

Listen to the recording of the webinar here.

Here are the slides from the powerpoint.

Hit the link to see them.