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Minnesota

Adult Education Innovations

State Reports on Adult Education


 

Minnesota

State Data on Adult Education


 

Minnesota

Adult Learner Success Stories


 

Minnesota

 

Le T.
Adult Learner

The Challenge

Shortly after school began last fall, Le T. had a serious and overwhelming problem with her home that threatened her family’s security. The roof leaked badly and mold had developed in the attic, ceiling, and walls. Le and her husband own their home and have 4 children ages 7-15. In addition to parenting and regularly attending school, she holds a full-time job and is her family’s primary wage earner. Due to the constant stress, she couldn’t sleep and did not know where to find help.

The Solution

A couple of years ago we started a Student Resource Room at our school. The purpose of the room is to provide help for students dealing with both academic and non-academic problems. Last fall, for the first time, the room was open every school day. We also hold an annual Resource Fair, featuring representatives from area social service and other agencies. After learning about Le’s situation, Resource Room volunteers facilitated Le’s contact with a Hennepin County Community Development Block Grant program. Happily, Le applied and qualified for a no-interest, 15-year loan program. Estimates were written, work plans made, and $32,000 worth of home repairs have now been completed! As her stress lessened, Le also made great academic progress.

The Outcome

Le’s stress level has been significantly reduced. Also this year, she made level gains in both reading and math, improved pronunciation due to twice a week volunteer help, and moved to a higher math group. As of April, her home has a new roof, insulation, venting, rear storm door, egress windows, bedroom walls in the basement, and more. Le is a happy, confident, and determined class and school leader who gets up each morning to run 3 miles and is eager to lead our daily yoga break. 

 

Maria Menendez
Adult Learner

The Challenge

Shortly after retiring in 2015, Maria (Mali) Menendez started classes at our program, AAP. She felt she had not had time to study and improve her English even though she moved here from Mexico 25 years ago. Mali had received postsecondary education in Mexico and had always wanted to further her education in the United States. To her, going back to school to improve her English speaking and writing was a dream come true.

The Solution

In 2015, Mali’s teacher suggested she participate in the Student Advisory Board (SAB). Mali became an active participant in the pilot leadership training program and offered valuable contributions to SAB consultations, event planning, and implementation. As a result of this work, Mali was offered a position on the Community Education Advisory Council. There she contributes insights about ABE and issues related to the immigrant community. This spring, she was hired on a part-time basis to run AAP’s resource room. Her duties include investigating and promoting resources, meeting with students, and helping coordinate volunteers and outside agencies that come to offer assistance. Mali continues to participate in academic coursework as well!

The Outcome

Mali has far exceeded her goal of improving her English since coming to our program. She progressed from Advanced EL to GED® prep class and participated in college prep reading and writing classes this year. Her leadership skills have also flourished. She helps advance the mission of our resource room, while continuing to pursue her goal of improving her English reading, writing, and speaking. Mali is a leader in the school and the community and brings positive energy to everything she does!

State Innovations


 

Minnesota

Adult Academic Program: Job Olympics
Robbinsdale Area Schools
Crystal, MN


The Challenge

AAP students learn skills related to interviewing, job searching, completing applications, soft skills, and exploring careers or higher education. Staff noted that students were more motivated and likely to master learning goals when a real-life situation demanded it.Therefore, the Job Olympics event was devised as a fun way to motivate and encourage students. The mock interview, job application, and online job search provide students with valuable real-time feedback to improve these skills.

The Solution

Staff preparation for the event takes weeks; its success relies heavily on finding unpaid, volunteer judges. The judges, from local businesses, social services, and other sources provide invaluable encouragement and constructive feedback for student participants. Students compete in 3 events: online job search, job application completion, and job interview. For each predetermined category, judges award points. For example, for interviews, students are scored on appearance, eye contact, and response to questions. The event concludes with a closing ceremony where all students earn a certificate, and the students with the top three scores on each team win bronze, silver, and gold medals.

The Outcome

The excitement of this event and the constructive feedback to students from the volunteer judges helps motivate them to do their best. In addition, prizes are awarded to each medal winner, and the names of all participants are entered into a drawing for more prizes. The Job Olympics gives students a better chance at acquiring a job. The local community benefits as new adults join the workforce, and volunteer judges get to know our school and students and become more supportive of both.

Adult Academic Program: Stress Management & Relief
Robbinsdale Area Schools
Crystal, MN


The Challenge

Immigrant students in my class faced many stressors this year. For example, a student’s roof leaked and mold had developed in her walls; another had lost a brother to murder; others fled war and civil unrest in their home countries; others were preoccupied with thoughts of children who remained in their native countries. Limited literacy & financial limitations added more stress. My goal was to provide students with useful, transferable stress management tools in the context of an ABE classroom.

The Solution

In order to provide an environment that was maximally supportive of these students and conducive to learning, I incorporated and modified ideas throughout the year from the New England LRC’s Managing Stress to Improve Learning project. The AAP Resource Room also played a supportive role. Students learned about the impact of stress on learning. They later completed stress circles, an altered shoes project, daily yoga, and a public service announcement that they presented to the other classes. This Google Slides PSA focused on what students could do to maintain a safe and healthy school environment. The student homeowner experiencing significant house problems, as well as others, were referred to our Resource Room for additional support.

The Outcome

The stress relief & management initiative had a positive impact on student persistence and progress. 61.5% of students with more than 40 hours of class time achieved gains, with improvements in alphabetics, decoding, writing, and spelling. Better reading fluency, pronunciation, and math & technology skills were also noted. Students reported lower stress levels and teacher observation confirmed this. In addition, close relationships among and between students and teacher characterized the class.

Adult Academic Program: Student Advisory Board
Robbinsdale Area Schools
Crystal, Minnesota


The Challenge

The AAP identified a need to encourage student input into program operations and assist with new student integration to enhance persistence. Student Advisory Board (SAB) attendance was inconsistent, and the group had trouble focusing and making substantive input. Two new roles were identified to bring focus to their work: assisting with integration of new students and aiding students in the Resource Room. As a result, 8 lessons were developed for SAB members to teach necessary related content.

The Solution

Two teachers, with support and input from the director and others, wrote and taught the eight lessons. Topics helpful to SAB members in enhancing their function as a body and in their work as new student mentors and Resource Room guides were chosen for the lessons. The lessons are as follows: What is Leadership, Communication Perception and Style: Active Listening, Trust and Confidentiality in Peer Relationships, Telephone and Internet skills, Resolution and Peer Mediation, and in process: Stress Management/Mental Health, and Self-Empowerment. SAB members attended meetings and participated in learning the content through a variety of means such as direct instruction, cooperative groups, discussions, and role play.

The Outcome

SAB participants have demonstrated leadership at both the school and district level. Two have become members of the Community Ed Advisory Council; one was hired to staff our Student Resource Room. Individual members increased their involvement in mentoring new students, and attendance of SAB members improved. Participants also seem more self-assured. These efforts are still at an early stage. As SAB members complete training and gain experience, more positive outcomes are expected.