Introduce Yourself as a Member of Our Community!

As a new, returning, or even a veteran member of this growing and increasingly vibrant community, please introduce yourself to the rest of us! Use the Comment button on this  Discussion Topic to enter your information.

In your introduction, include aspects of yourself that will help you connect with others of like mind, experiences, and interests as we continue to interact on behalf of our own interests and those of the adults we serve!

To access my profile, fell free to visit me at

On behalf of one and all represented here, Welcome!

Moderator, Diversity and Literacy CoP


Hi All,

Nakhwenjitt doonch'yaa shalak naii? Shoozhri' Charleen Fisher oozhii. Beaver, Alaska gwats'an ihlii. Hello all my relations! My name is Charleen Fisher. I am from Beaver, Alaska. I work for the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments that is based in Fort Yukon, Alaska. I am Gwich'in, Koyukon and Denina Athabascan. As the Director of a Native American Career and Technical Education Program (NACTEP) addressing the needs of the diverse populations is very important and am happy to be part of this group! Mahsi' or Thank you.

Charleen Fisher 

You are a big breath of fresh air, Charleen! I love that you greeted us as "my relations!" That makes me feel connected.

We have brought up many discussion on how to best serve indigenous populations in different parts of the US. I just had lunch with a Navajo friend getting her PhD in Indigenous Studies. She told me that her group of cohorts was being encouraged to use "indigenous" instead of "Native American" in referring to native groups. Any thoughts on that?

I hope that other Native-American members will be encouraged to start a discussion, especially since this is Native-American month! What do you think of that designation and its purpose? Let's talk! :)))) Leecy

Welcome, Sudie Whalen! Sudie is a Research Associate with American Institutes for Research (AIR) working primarily on the California Adult Literacy Professional Development Project (CALPRO) out of the Sacramento Office. Her role as CALPRO Online Course Coordinator takes up much of her time, but I also work on other projects. I hope she chooses our Diversity and Literacy Community one of those projects.

To find out a lot of other information on Sudie, including her journey into and around adult education, simply click on her profile at

Drop in her to welcome Sudie and encourage her to comment on her experience in serving diverse students. Let's talk!

Leecy Wise,


Thank you Leecy! I absolutely love working in the very diverse realm of adult education, but sometimes adult ed. gets left out of relevant conversations.  I look forward to the opportunity to contribute here and read what everyone else is working on and passionate about as it relates to diversity in education.

Sudie, what makes Adult Ed such a diverse realm? I'd like to dig into that a bit more. How can we bet prepare to instruct adults in diverse communities? Leecy

Adult education varies so widely in socioeconomic demographics from one location to the next. Students can range from 18 to over 80, cultural background varies depending on where one lives, as does income level, the level of education, even literacy level. Adult Ed is a beautiful, proverbial melting pot of learners. I think we can better prepare instruction for diverse communities by expecting and embracing diversity and acknowledging our bias (especially implicit... is a good place to start).  It's also important to be inclusive in curriculum and even marketing. I remember trying to figure out why we didn't have many males in our programs, then I realized all of our marketing material featured women! 

Self awareness, Sudie. Yes, that's the only place to start. I'm digging into . Great resource. If others here so the same, let's talk about it.

Are you (readers here) aware of your biases? If so, how does that help you embrace diversity and offer instruction that is more inclusive? As my own hidden biases come to light, I am aware that I need to set up and watch a warning-light system that alerts me to when I'm not living consciously in that respect. How about you?

I agree that adult ed is a wonderful melting pot for us to discuss best practices and strategies for (1) acknowledging our own culturally-rooted perspectives and (2) not only embracing but supporting diverse views in our learning environments. What think? Leecy

Laurie is a registered nurse, volunteer tutor, and tutor trainer, who works in a vast rural region. According to her comments in our Mandatory Adult Education program, she travels 60 miles to work.

Drop in her to welcome Laurie and encourage her to comment on her experience in serving diverse students. Let's talk!

Leecy Wise,

I have worked as a volunteer in adult basic literacy for fourteen years. Now that I am retired, I am looking to expand my knowledge and ability to contribute to the great need we have here in NE Pennsylvania. I am definite proof that the more you put into the work, the more personal reward you get in return. My goal is to continue to expand my knowledge - with the help of anyone out there who is willing to share!

What population do you serve as a literacy volunteer? Do you use Laubach or other series as a foundation or do you develop your own materials?

I was a Laubach Supervising Trainer way, way back when. Then Language Experience came in with Literacy Volunteers, which later joined with Laubach to form ProLiteracy, a great resource for early literacy training. What challenges do you face? I know that there are many, many joys!

I also wonder about your experience as a volunteer for so many years. We don't talk a lot about volunteerism here, but, if well managed, I know that volunteers provide a real gift, especially to diverse students. Leecy


I started in 2002 initially training primarily in Laubach, then after a couple of years I became a tutor trainer myself. Our population, scattered over a wide area, serves everyone from our >90 year old woman to commercial drivers, from professionals hoping to improve their writing to quarry workers hoping to improve their English. Many have learning disorders, several have cognitive or neurologic issues, all are determined to make progress. Their motivations run from wanting to deal with the daily paperwork of normal life, to attaining GED, to getting their first jobs. Most have restricted incomes. Many have inadequate transportation and many live in areas without access to technology. Most are best-served by one-to-one tutoring. We have a core of volunteer tutors who are determined to make a difference. One of my favorite days of the year is our annual literacy banquet, where students and tutors all get together. The students are recognized for their year of hard work and the tutors for their contributions.

We have curricula available and a small library of materials. However, it is not easy for tutors to get to the office to browse those materials. Most of us start with a standard curriculum such as Laubach, Endeavor and others. We then use our imaginations and (hopefully) web access to provide varied and interesting review/reinforcement materials. Those tutors without computer experience or access use whatever materials they can.

The primary issue is funding, as I am sure it is for most programs. But we carry on and remember that we aren't the ones doing the really hard work. Our students have to overcome tremendous hurdles just to receive basic instruction. Those able to transition from ABE tutoring to GED classes face a whole new paradigm. Their successes are rewarding to all of us.


Hello Laurie,

You mentioned that many in the population you work with "live in areas without access to technology." Can you tell us more about that? Is it that they do not have a computer or portable digital device and access to the Internet, or is there literally no Internet access available in their area, for example because it is mountainous or remote? There are some inexpensive solutions to helping learners get access if the Internet is available. Let me know if this is of interest.

For students who do have access to the Internet from home, work, library or elsewhere, and who may all have the same interest (e.g. passing the CDL exam, improving their work-related writing skills, improving their English language skills, preparing for a Serv-Safe or a CNA exam, etc.) I wonder if there are enough in a geographical area to organize in a blended learning circle where they take an online course together and meet once a week, face-to-face, to learn how to support each other in the course, i.e. peer-to-peer learning. If this interests you, let me know. These volunteer-led learning circles are expanding in libraries, adult learning centers, and in other venues.

David J. Rosen


Diversity is a very sensitive concept to be discussed and taken on one side in the classroom. It is the state of having students who are of different races or who have different cultures and customs. Students coming from different backgrounds face difficulties to melt in the atmosphere of learn new life,assimilate and adjust in a short or long period of time. However, the instructor is the one who has the golden touch and magic efforts to to turn the differences to the state of uniqueness . Everyone is important and plays a major part in building the community we are concerned with. Let's be one team and cooperate to foster each other is a topic to be emphasized almost in every lesson. Lab work is a good example and the need to know more about technology will push students to forget about their diversity and involve in the essence of life and teaching . After the help of the Adult Badic Director and her enlightenment about some websites, I find my self in the the shoe of every student. Thanks

Yacoub, thanks for your comments. I wonder if we could talk more about why, as you said, "Diversity is a very sensitive concept..." Is it fear of ridicule? Rejection? "The pack?" Is it simply unease with new situations?

I appreciate your saying, "Let's be one team and cooperate to foster each other is a topic to be emphasized almost in every lesson." How do we do that (be one team) earnestly? How can we gain the trust and cooperation of diverse students who feel disconnected? You mentioned getting students involved in a project to push them "to forget about their diversity and involve in the essence of life and teaching." I like that. Let's share some examples of how that works. Let be a team here! Leecy

Hi Yacoub,

I found your statement "diversity is a very sensitive concept to be discussed" interestingly accurate. Change, in general, is often met with discomfort. When a program is developed and does not embrace diversity, or maybe the student population wasn't very diverse, to begin with thus inclusion was not a forethought, it can be hard to sell people on the need for change. I've noticed that some take it very personal when diversity comes up as if including the culture of others is taking away from them somehow.  That couldn't be further from the truth. It's reminiscent of the Starbucks phenomenon that somehow turned into an attack on Christmas. It benefits society when we know about one another and embrace our differences.

Diversity can be a sensitive concept when done wrong as well. We don't want to try becoming more diverse only to end up embracing stereotypes, which can be offensive. I feel It's important to learn about the cultures you want to include, talk to students, read about it, and develop and appreciation for it ourselves before implementing change.

When I drive from my home to the office, there are areas where there is not even radio reception. There is a lack of access in the area, partially due to the terrain; people tend to live in the hollows between bluffs and mountains. However, poverty has a lot to do with it. This area was hit hard by the recession and many are unable to maintain their previous living standards. This makes it more remarkable that they want to improve their educational status. The only computers available to these people are the "Gates computers" once donated to local small libraries. Even these are often without updated software, since the libraries are also hanging by a thread. Those who do have portable devices definitely have an edge and we try to exploit that. (This is ironic, as my husband is an expert in the area of providing technological access to those with disabilities.) The groups we are able to get together are generally immigrants, usually of the same cultural background.

Hello Laurie,

Home Internet access in mountainous areas is a tough problem to solve. Possibly some of your students work for employers such as McDonald's or Walmart that have launched Internet-based English language and h.s. diploma programs, and perhaps they could enlist their employer's help in making a computer available in the store or restaurant at times when it is not being used for business purposes. Perhaps the libraries would be willing to allow students to use Internet-accessible computers, if these are available; many adult education teachers have asked their local librarians to allow more computer time for adult learners who do not have access to the Internet at home or work, and who are taking online courses, and librarians have generally tried to accommodate them.

For immigrants who have access to the Internet, who can meet together once a week face-to-face, and who have access to an online ESOL/ESL course such as USA Learns (free), Burlington English or Mango English (proprietary courses that are free to library users if the library has purchased access), a computer or Internet accessible smartphone,  Peer2Peer University and World Education are beginning to test out an English language learning circle model in five programs in New England for people on waiting lists to learn English.  You can learn more about the learning circle blended learning model, used in several urban library systems -- in Chicago, Kansas City. KS and Charlotte, NC -- by going to the website and selecting the "learning circles" button.

David J. Rosen


Thanks for your input, David! We are constantly looking for new ways to reach our students. I will bring your suggestions to the attention of our program director. Our librarians are the linchpins of our outreach efforts - they do miracles with their limited resources!


Laurie, I created a prep series for students wanting to pass the Commercial Driver's License (CDL) certification college course in Utah. The segments are developed as PowerPoint slides and written at about 6th-8th-grade reading level. However, there are lots of images and animations to help lower readers with the content. I'm finding a way to post those digitally and well share the link here when I do. Leecy

Below is the link to materials that I created for CDL. Look halfway down the page. This is a site with a lot of instructional materials for different levels and interests, all pulbished as Open Educational Resources (OER), so feel free to use and modify, as per the Creative Commons license posted. If you do use the segments, feedback would be great. I know you'll also find errors here and there since the materials were not proofread! :)